Ruby Roberts - the lady billiards champion

Ruby Roberts

The Lady Billiards Champion

Diary of my travels abroad 1910-1911 (4)
Ruby Roberts, the lady billiards champion - Diary Entry 4

Miss Roberts was a buxom, hoydenish damsel of seventeen when Uncle Memmott took her in hand. Now, at nineteen years of age, she is already a highly accomplished billiard player. - (1907). The Lone hand Retrieved December 27, 2023, from

On Nov 5th we left Colombo for Penang by the German mail boat “Kleist”. We went on board about 5pm and after dinner went on deck. We were supposed to sail at 10pm but did not leave until midnight, the boat being crowded Mum had to sleep on the settee as she could not climb into the top bunk and we had another lady in the lower one. Of course on account of the heat we had to keep the port hole open and during the night we shipped a big wave and poor Mum being just under the port hole got the full force of it. We had to get the stewardess in to mop up the water. Fortunately our clothes did not get wet except for Mum’s nightie which she was wearing. The next morning I got up early and went on deck. There were several nice young men walking round the deck so Charlie Lumb brought them over and introduced them to me and we soon became quite chummy. Poor boys there were very few English people on board and no young ones so they were delighted to see me and I had a great time. They were all going to take up positions in the Far East and were very homesick. They told me that what with the German food and all the foreigners on board. They had had a rotten voyage so they all joined our party and as I was the only girl I had a great time.

Deck Billiards, source: National Library of Australia
Deck Billiards via National Library of Australia

We used to play “deck board” deck billiards and quoits and I won several competitions. The night before reaching Penang the captain gave a dinner party to all the passengers. The saloon was decorated with flags, bunting etc., and looked very gay. The band played during dinner and there was plenty to drink and some of the men had too much. Fortunately all the boys in our party were very good and did not drink too much. They told Mrs Roberts that they did not want me to be ashamed of them and that we English had to keep up our prestige. One of the foreigners got drunk and stood on the table conducting the band with a bottle. The boat rolled and so did he, on to the floor. The bottle of course broke and cut his face. So as we had just finished dinner we left the saloon and went on deck where we danced for some time but it was too hot for much dancing so we sat on deck until midnight. We were rather startled because the boat stopped and we did not resume our journey until morning. I heard afterwards that they could not take their bearing and when day broke we were very close to the shore.

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