Chess in the Park

One of two newly installed tables in Redditch – overlooking the lake in Arrow Valley The table in Arrow Valley Park, Redditch with set on a frosty morning in November
A sunny day in February. All we need now is …
Two players arrive to enjoy the the new table


Back in August the Department of Culture, Media and Sport announced a combined package of measures worth almost £1 million to help develop the next generation of chess players, bring chess to a wider audience, and support the development of elite players.

The investment will include Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) support for players to receive world-leading training and development opportunities, Department for Education (DfE) grants for schools in disadvantaged areas to get more primary school children playing chess, and support from the Department for Levelling Housing and Communities (DfLUHC) for 100 new chess tables to be installed in public spaces.

Full details can be found at

The Chess in the Park programme is a key part of the governments initiative and is now well underway as at December 2023, with the grant funding allocated to local authorities in designated Levelling Up areas, and local authorities are now in the process of planning for and/or installing tables and seating and making arrangements for sets and equipment.

Local authorities have been given some discretion as to how they spend their grant funding and there are a number of choices to be made, including selecting a suitable location, procuring and installing a concrete or recycled plastic table or tables with seating, and making arrangements for supporting equipment (including sets and potentially clocks and/or giant sets to support events). A key consideration is how to make sets available for players to use the tables, with the expected approach being to locate the table near to a café or park facility with the staff making the sets available on request and retrieving for storage.

ECF Support

The ECF has been in contact with the DfLUHC team to support the chess tables initiative and have set up this web page to help share information on the tables as they are installed, and how the local authorities are being supported by their local chess community.

We will update the page with details of the table implementations as they become available.


Redditch table in Arrow Valley Park
Redditch table in Arrow Valley Park – game on!
Second Redditch table in Morton Stanley Park, near the outdoor table tennis and other amenities Morton Stanley – another view

After receiving their grant, Redditch Borough Council have acted quickly to procure and install two tables with seating – one in Arrow Valley Country Park, and a second in Morton Stanley Park on the other side of Redditch. The Arrow Valley table (pictured at the start of the article) has been installed in a fine location overlooking the Arrow Valley Lake and in the grounds of the visitor centre. The plan is to make sets available from a stock of basic tournament style plastic sets held at the Visitor Centre and issued on request. The local Redditch Chess Club have been in contact with the Parks team and will be looking to run a launch event in the spring to promote the facility as the weather gets warmer. This may be a standalone event or part of one of the park’s spring events. The club will be bringing some of their trestle tables and sets to add to the concrete table in Arrow Valley and will be looking to take on park goers and all comers.

An earlier ‘Chess in the Park’ event run at ‘Pebworth Party in the Park’ by the Redditch club secretary Dan Lambourne within the classic car display

Walsall Council have installed their concrete outdoor tables in the grounds of the 170 acre Walsall Arboretum (below) with sets available from the cafe.

Follow this link —

Greater Manchester
Follow this link for details about the Farnworth Park tables –
Two chess tables are also planned for installation in Oldham parks –

Kingston Upon Hull is a second early adopter and will be installing tables in Pearson Park and East Park. You can find further details of the Council’s plans at the BBC News link at

Chess in Pearson Park, Hull

The local association (Hull and East Riding Chess Association) have been extremely active in supporting social chess playing and have run ‘Play Chess’ Festivals for the past three summers.

Tables have been placed in two Hull parks – in East Park, near to the boating lake and in Pearson Park in west Hull, close to the pond and café. HERCA president Graham Chesters organised a launch event with local councillors in attendance.

Councillor Jack Haines (left) pictured with Graham Chesters from Hull and East Riding Chess Association.
Read more on the BBC website here –
By pure coincidence, one of Hull’s strongest ever players (above left, unfortunately long retired from the game) Stuart Brown was taking gentle exercise in Pearson Park as the photoshoot of the table’s first use was about to begin. Here he is playing in the rain against local Councillor Singh

Barnsley Council have installed tables in Elsecar Park in Elsecar and Locke Park in Barnsley. These are trestle-style tables with benches and two board positions per table with the option for mixed games. Both tables are situated outside the park cafés in each park.

Elsecar Village Park, Elsecar Locke Park, Barnsley

Bradford Council have identified Grosvenor Park in Manningham as their chosen site for their two chess tables. The picture above shows one of the tables which have now been installed in Grosvenor Park.

Leicester City Council have installed two chess tables with four boards in total in a central location near to the cafe in the historic 69-acre Victoria park. The park is situated in central Leicester next to the University Campus. The installations are based on recycled plastic tables with bench seating and accessible access as shown in the picture. There are two boards per table to allow multiple games at once. Plans are in progress to arrange for provision of sets from nearby facilities, and a launch event for the new tables and supporting equipment supported by the local chess association. Leicester has a long history of supporting British chess, with De Montfort University’s Venue hosting the 2023 British Championships which included a well-attended outdoor chess programme with drop-in chess events held in the Circle in Leicester city centre and on the De Montfort University campus.

Drop in chess on Leicester University campus – FIDE Master Jonathan Blackburn provides commentary on the 2023 British Championship games, which are showing on a large display screen

The Local association (LRCA) is supporting the council in the installation programme, and hopes to  organise promotional events once the tables are in place via local Leicester clubs.

Grant funding has been provided to three authorities in Lancashire with plans to install tables as follows:

Blackburn by Darwen – local centres of the two main towns

Hyndburn – Gatty Park, Accrington and Rhydding’s Park, Oswaldtwistle –

Pendle – Marsden Park, Nelson and Letcliffe Park, Barnoldswick –

South Ribble Council have installed a concrete table within the grounds of Strawberry Valley Park in Leyland.

East Anglia
Ipswich Council have installed two concrete chess tables in Christchurch Park near to Christchurch Mansion.

The opening of Chess in the Park took place on Saturday 16th March in Prospect Park, West Reading.

The grand opening (move) Across the ages – John Roper vs Krish Keshari


Croydon Council have selected Coulsdon Memorial Grounds near to the Coulsdon Chess Club as the best place to install their chess table. The table is now fully installed and has been located near to the cafe overlooking the Green.