Ruby Roberts - the lady billiards champion

Ruby Roberts

The Lady Billiards Champion

Diary of my travels abroad 1910-1911 (9)
Ruby Roberts, the lady billiards champion - Diary Entry 9

He (John Roberts) aspires to give the game a fillip among the tender sex’ next season, when he will introduce his protege Miss Ruby Roberts, who, he assures us, is the finest lady player he has ever seen. - The Billiard Monthly : April, 1911 – EABA. Available at:

Next morning at 6.30 we arrived at Port Dickson. I had my luggage all ready and waiting for Mr Gray. I said goodbye to Miss Brown and her uncle. I watched the coolies lowering our luggage down the side of the boat to the sampan. I was so afraid they would drop my cue case in the water but Mr Gray assured me it would be alright. By this time, it had commenced raining and we had to climb down the gangway which had been lowered over the side of the boat. As the sampan was rocking a good deal I was scared out my life but made it alright. We had no shelter over the sampan so by the time we reached the jetty we were wet through.

Sampans on Malacca River 1907
Sampans on Malacca River 1907 via Wikimedia Commons

The sampans are something like a canoe. They are painted with very brilliant colours and on each side of the “boat” is painted a large eye. I asked Mr Gray’s boy what the eyes were for and he said. No eyes, no can see, no can savvy, so the idea is if the boats have no eyes they cannot see where they are going. I was rather amused. Mr Smith, another passenger, came ashore with us so we all went to the Rest House “there being no hotel” and had breakfast. We found we had to wait five hours for our train, so we went for a drive round the town but there was not much to see.

We left Port Dickson at 11am and arrived at Seramban at 12.30. Mr Harrop met us at the station with a letter from J.R. so he took me to the Rest House, the best one I had been in so far. It was situated on a hill overlooking the lake. I had a very nice room with private balcony so I had a lovely view all round. Mr Gray stayed and had Tiffin with me then left by train for Kuala Lumpur. After he left I wrote a long letter to Mum and at 3pm Mr Harrop called and took me to the club where I was to play that night. I had a game with him after which we sat on the verandah and had tea. I went back to the Rest House, had dinner in my room. I played that night before an audience. Usually there would be a few ladies present and at some of the clubs there would be quite a big muster. I used to like to have a few ladies present.

I played a great game, the best since I had commenced my tour. My opponent was very disgusted at the beating I gave him but he was a good sport. We had a very nice supper at the club and Mr Harrop saw me safely to the R.H. Next morning Nov 27, I was up at 6am, had my bath and packed before breakfast which the boy brought to my room. Just as I was ready to leave I received a wire from Mr Gray asking what train I was leaving by. Had some time to wait at the station and had great difficulty in making the man understand where I wanted my ticket for. Eventually, I got the right ticket. In the meanwhile a crowd of natives had gathered round my cue case and got quite excited about it. I found out afterwards that they are very keen on the game.

Seramban to Port Dickson Railway 1910
Seramban to Port Dickson Railway 1910 via Wikimedia Commons

Left Seramban at 9.30am and arrived at Kuala Lumpur at 11.30am. Mr Gray was at the station to meet me and took me to the Empire Hotel in his car. Had Tiffin with him and went for a drive during the afternoon. Had a lovely run and got back in time to dress for dinner. Had dinner with Mr Gray and his friend. Afterwards, we sat on the verandah of the hotel and talked until about 11pm. He proposed to me that night but although I liked him very much, I refused, as I was so keen on my career. He must have had a very large plantation (rubber) at a place called “Raub”. He had just recovered from an attack of malaria and had gone to Singapore for a change. I missed him very much as he had been so kind to me. Next morning I went over to the Selangor Club (usually Spotted Dog, Why? I could not find out). Saw the secretary and he showed me over the Club which was very fine indeed and had a lovely billiards room. I had a practice and the secretary had a game with me. Afterwards I did some shopping and went back to the hotel for Tiffin, rested all the afternoon, had tea in my room.

Played that night at the Club against Mr Crighton before a crowded house. My! It was hot although the punkahs were going all the time. My opponent was a very jolly man and seemed a great favourite. I was very amused at the things he did. I beat him very easily and everyone seemed very pleased but they did give him a bad time for letting a girl beat him but he was a good sport and took it all in good part. I had a most enjoyable evening. Next morning I was very tired. My boy brought me “Chota Hazri” at 7am, after which I fell asleep and did not wake until nearly midday. The secretary called and had tea with me and brought me my cheque for previous night’s exhibition match $100 which equals about £13 in English money. I received this amount for every match, either in dollars or rupees. It was quite a good fee but expenses are very high in the East.

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