Ruby Roberts - the lady billiards champion

Ruby Roberts

The Lady Billiards Champion

Diary of my travels abroad 1910-1911 (20)
Ruby Roberts, the lady billiards champion - Diary Entry 20

Miss Roberts is only just back from a Maoriland tour, in the course of which she made a break of 108 against the amateur champion of the Dominion. - (1914). The bulletin Retrieved December 22, 2023, from

Jan 7. Had a game with Mr Nahapiet after breakfast and made 84 break against him. Remained home all the afternoon. Played Mr Yee of the Irish Fusilliers that night at Minter. Did not commence our match until 10pm, as there was a large dinner party at the hotel and as they wished to see me play we waited until they came in. We had a very large audience and during the interval we adjoined to the verandah for refreshments. I was introduced to a number of very nice people. They were all drinking whisky stingers which seems to be the most popular drink but as I am not allowed to have anything intoxicating, I had to stick to squash. I played very well but was beaten by 17. It was a very good game although I was beaten. The people all joined hands and sang for she’s a jolly good fellow and called me a good sport. In fact I did not know how to get away from them all.

A funny incident occurred as I was leaving the billiard room. A man came up to me and asked me if I remembered him. He seemed to be under the impression that he had met me before at J R’s house in London. I told him that he must be mistaken as I had never been to London. Then he said aren’t you J R’s daughter? I immediately understood how the mistake had arisen. Everyone used to think that J R was my father. It is rather extraordinary that my father’s name should be John Roberts also and yet we are no relation to the famous J R. I got tired of explaining eventually and used to just let people think what they liked. This man turned out to be a Mr McKenzie and Mrs R had been telling me about him a few days previously. I think she would have liked her daughter to have married him. He was a very nice young man and offered to drive us home in his car which we thankfully accepted as all the gharries were on strike at the time.

(Sunday Jan 8th) Got up early and went for a walk, after breakfast had my practice as usual. Rested all the afternoon. After tea went for a drive to the lakes. Mr and Mrs Nahapiet gave us all a large dinner party that night in their private suite. They have three children and they are all very musical so we had a musical evening and enjoyed it very much. (Jan 9) Had my practice as usual, went for a walk after tea and played cards with Captain and Mrs Cross all the evening.

(Jan 10) Had a call from Mr Nahapiet to say that he had secured an engagement for me to play at the Strand Hotel on the following evening. We also received an invitation to dinner at Mr McKenzie’s bungalow that evening and we had a most enjoyable evening. He has a beautiful home and his own full sized table, so after dinner we all played billiards. He is a very nice player and I enjoyed having a game with him.

The Strand Hotel Rangoon 1845-1911 via Wikimedia Commons
The Strand Hotel Rangoon 1845-1911 via Wikimedia Commons
Strand Road Rangoon 1845-1911 via Wikimedia Commons
Strand Road Rangoon 1845-1911 via Wikimedia Commons

(Jan 11) Mr Balthayan called for me at 8am with his cart, a lovely turn out; he owns the prize harness horse. The trap was rather high and at the back was a step in which the footman stood. He was dressed in a very smart livery and carried a kind of whip only with long white hair at the end. I forget the name they are called but they are to keep the flies off the horse. I felt very smart going out in such a smart affair with Jack Balthayan driving. It was a beautiful morning and had not become too hot so I enjoyed the drive into town. I wanted to try the table that I was to play on that night. Mr Balthayan could not wait until I finished my practice so he arranged with the manager to see me safely home. Rested all the afternoon. We had dinner early and went over to the Minter. I had a very nice black lace evening frock which I wore that evening. Of course it was always so warm that did not need a wrap unless we went driving afterwards.

Mr Balthayan was to send his car for us at 8.30pm to take us to the Strand. When the car did not come, I got so worried. There was no way of getting to the city all the gharries still being on strike so someone in the hotel heard of our difficulty and offered to drive us in for which we were extremely grateful. In arrival at the hotel they told us that the audience were all waiting. There had been some misunderstanding about the car. Jack had told his driver to call for us but it appears he took ill and never sent word to his master. So there they were, all waiting and wondering what had happened to us. Then when he heard what had happened he jumped into another car and raced out to Minter only to find that we had gone. It was a proper mix up. They told me afterwards there were four cars out looking for me. Of course we were both upset and did not play so well, but I beat Jack Balthayan by 117 in 400 up. In spite of everything we had a very enjoyable evening and Jack drove us home in his car. It was a glorious moonlight night so he suggested taking us for a drive. We went round the lakes and out through Palm Avenue which is the most beautiful avenue of Palms that I have seen and it looked wonderful with the moon shining through the leaves. We did enjoy it after the hot stuffy room.

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