Sir Noel Mobbs

1878 - 1959

Sir Noel Mobbs was a former President of both the European Bridge League and British Bridge League.

From Bridge Magazine, June 1953

It is not only the bridge of Britain, it is the bridge of the world which owes a debt to Sir Noel Mobbs, K.C.V.O., O.B.E., who retired from the Chairmanship of the Portland Club this year as he resigned from the British Bridge League in 1951.

The big, burly, genial and decisive figure was the indispensable - the inevitable - delegate whenever the Laws were altered; and, as Chairman of the Portland's Card Committee, he dealt with more fine legal points in the game than anyone else.

The B.B.L., in its present form, embracing all the Bridge Associations and Leagues in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, is largely his bastion; so almost entirely is the European Bridge League which, before his day, was a mere appanage of the American H.Q. of the game.

Besides being the supreme organiser of bridge, Mobbs was no mean player. the late Arnold Ward, one of the legendary names in card play, selected him for the Carlton Club quartette which reached the Final of the Portland Club Cup; and he was a member of the Portland's own team on the only occasion it won its own Cup.

It was only when arthritis compelled him to take to an ebony walking-stick that Noel Mobbs made bridge his game par excellence. he was a fine player of lawn tennis and of golf; but it was curling - on which he wrote in 1939 what is still the standard text book on "ice bowls" - that was his supreme sporting interest.

His life was built on a tripod: business, games and charity - and the greatest of these was (and still is) charity. In business, his Slough Estates has ramifications as far afield not only as Birmingham but Melbourne and Toronto; and his activities have been primarily responsible for the development of Slough itself from a country town of 15,000 into an industrial centre of more than five times the size.

But Slough is no mere mushroom growth; for Mobbs, Lord of the Manor of Stoke Poges, exerted a careful and benevolent control over the swift expansion. He founded the local Community Centre and its charming Park; and another Mobbs creation, the local Industrial Health Service, safeguarding the well-being of its swiftly soaring population.

Even in his most arduous days Mobbs devoted an enormous amount of his time and energy - and money - to charitable work; as he has gradually relinquished his many professional activities, more and more work for altruistic motives has absorbed the dynamic drive of the man. No other figure in our little world - few, indeed, in the great world - has done one-hundredth as much for others, or has devoted himself so ruthlessly to purely honorary tasks, as Mobbs.

He took over the B.B. L. in 1939; and, during the war, there was little to be done; but it was he who, in 1948, was primarily responsible for the resurrection of the Internationals; and it was the B.B. L. over which he presided that registered the only three victories - 1948, 1949 and 1950 - which Britain has ever gained in the event. Very fittingly, it was in his last year, for the first time ever, that Britain brought off the "double"- winning both the Open and the Women's European championships.

Sir Noel has been twice married - to Frances Mary Tanner in 1903; and, after her death in 1929, to Helen Gertrude Cornish in 1932. He has three sons and one daughter, and seven grand-children.

His retirement from the Presidency of the European Bridge League allowed Baron Robert de Nexon to succeed him; now, the Hon. M. F. P. Lubbock takes his place in the Portland Chair.