Ruby Roberts - the lady billiards champion

Ruby Roberts

The Lady Billiards Champion

Diary of my travels abroad 1910-1911 (7)
Ruby Roberts, the lady billiards champion - Diary Entry 7

A revelation of the feminine capacity for excellence in billiards is afforded by Miss Ruby Roberts, a nineteen-year-old girl, who has lately played her first games in public, at Alcock’s Billiard Hall, Mel- bourne. - (1907). The Lone hand Retrieved December 27, 2023, from

We left Ipoh at 1pm, had our Tiffin on the train and arrived at Kuala Lumpur at 6.30pm. We went to the Empire Hotel only to find that they were full up. All the other places were the same, even the R.H. but eventually we got in at the Bristol right in the heart of the town and very noisy. We booked rooms for the night but went to the Empire for our meals. We found out that there was a large fair on and that the planters were all down for the weekend. After dinner John Roberts went to the Selangor Club (Spotted Dog) and I waited at the hotel until his return.

Kuala Lumpur Railway 1910
Kuala Lumpur Railway 1910 via Wikimedia Commons

I was quite dreading going back to the Bristol to sleep, it looked such a funny place but fortunately it was very clean. The manager’s daughter showed me to my room and told me that I need not be nervous that there was only her father and herself sleeping there in that part of the building. Mr Roberts had the next room to me and I must mention that the wall between the rooms were weatherboard and did not reach the ceiling, there being a gap to allow a current of air through. I was just dozing off to sleep when I heard a most peculiar noise coming from John’s room. I could not make out what it was and I was terrified because the old chap is so deaf. I didn’t know whether to go and knock on his door to see if he was alright but thought I had better not as he gets so impatient with me for being so nervous, so I never slept all night. In the morning he asked me how I had slept and when I told him about the queer noises he only laughed and said that a mosquito had got under his net and he had got the towel and kept hitting at it to try and kill it. If I wasn’t mad to think I had spent such a restless night for such a cause.

We had breakfast at the Empire and went to the Station where we boarded the train for Port Swettenham. Passed a great number of rubber plantations on the way and was very interested to see how they tap them for the rubber. Most of the trees had cuts round them and little cups hanging to catch the liquid.

Left Port Swettenham at 1pm by “SS Kinta”. It was such a nice boat and built to suit the climate. All the cabins and saloon are built in the front of the boat to catch all the breeze. The cabins are lovely and cool being on the upper deck and outside each cabin has a long cane chair for lounging in. We had “Tiffin” then sampled the deck chair outside my cabin and fell asleep. The boy woke me up when he brought my tea; it was a terribly hot day. There were only two ladies on board besides myself but quite a number of very nice men. We sat at the Captain’s table and I had the place of honour next to him. We had a lovely dinner and I had my first taste of the sweet called “Gulu Malacca”. It was delicious; it seemed to be a soft mould with Gulu and cocoanut milk poured over as a sauce but my word the flavour is wonderful. My word! Gulu for me in future, whenever it is on the menu. After dinner we sat on deck talking to some of our fellow passengers.

At 9.30pm we arrived at Malacca where some of our passengers disembarked. We anchored and they had to climb down the side of the boat on what looked like a rope ladder and get into sampans (small boats). I met a very nice man on board, Captain Gray, a fine tall military looking man. He was very nice and we remained on deck talking until 11pm. We had a terrific thunderstorm during the night, very vivid sheet lightening. We have had a number of storms at sea and they come up so suddenly.

Monday morning we arrived at Singapore at 6am. I was up early and on deck to watch the view entering the harbour. It reminded me somewhat of Sydney harbour. A tender came alongside the boat and took us ashore. All the hotels were crowded there being a great number of American tourists in the city so we had to go to the Adelphi Hotel.

Cavenagh Bridge Singapore 1900 vis Wikimedia Commons

It is a large place but only second rate. After Tiffin I was at the office sending a wire when to my surprise Mr Gray came up and spoke to me. I thought he was going to stay at Raffles but like ourselves he had to go to the Adelphi. We went upstairs to the drawing room and sat talking for some time. Mr Roberts had to go to Jahore so I felt rather lonely on my own. I was delighted when I heard that Mr Gray was staying at our hotel. He had brought his car and two servants with him so when it got cool he took me for a drive round Singapore and showed me the sights. We went to the gardens and a place called the Gap, and then went all round the hills where we got lovely views. On our return we called at Raffles Hotel for tea.

I had been very anxious to see Raffles as I had heard such a lot about it. Mr Gray asked if he could sit at our table. Of course we were only too pleased. Mr Roberts had played at Captain Gray’s home – Raub. He owned a very large rubber plantation and as he had not been very well he intended having a holiday at Singapore. That night he invited us to the “Hippodrome”. I thought it would be a theatre show but found when we got there it was a circus. I was amazed to see the people in evening dress but I found it was quite the thing. The shows are very few in the East and the prices very high. The harbour looked lovely at night with all the vessels lighted up. Had supper on our return to the hotel. Next morning I went to Robinsons to see Mr Rathborn whom we had met on the”Kleist”. He was delighted to see me as he did not know many people and was very lonely.

John Little Store in Raffles Square Singapore 1900 via Wikimedia Commons
John Little Store in Raffles Square Singapore 1900 via Wikimedia Commons

From there I went to John Littles, the big store and did some shopping. Mr Roberts told me I would have to wear a Topee because of the heat so I bought one. Did not care much for the appearance of them. Went back to the hotel for Tiffin. Mr Gray and his friend joined me. We had music every day for Tiffin and dinner which was very nice. Slept all the afternoon and had tea in my room. Had a bath and changed for dinner. It was so dreadfully hot that we always had a bath in the morning and another before changing for dinner.

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