Every so often, the Chess Club receives a communication, with the following general thrust:
Why do you ABSOLUTE MORONS spell your own name wrong???!!! EVERYONE knows it’s Queen’s Park, not Queens Park!! What are they even teaching in Scottish schools these days?? *
It’s true, we purposefully leave an apostrophe out of our name, even though many deem it “incorrect” and “just plain wrong”.
You may be curious: why do we go by Queens Park Chess Club – rather than Queen’s Park Chess Club?
Buckle in. Here is the full story.
It begins on 3 August 2022, when the Covid pandemic was receding, lockdowns and restrictions were heading into the rear view mirror, and normality was returning to Scottish life.
In its Annual General Meeting in Brodies Bar, by the north corner of Queens Park – and home to our Thursday Group partners at the time – the Chess Club Committee were excitedly planning for a busy new season, one which would see the return of league chess.
A landmark decision was taken at this meeting, as shown in the following extract of the AGM minutes:
Agenda Item 5: Name of Club
There was a discussion over the potential value of changing the name from Govanhill Chess Club to Queens Park Chess Club, to develop a historical connection with a previous Club of that name, active from 1873 to the 1930s, and to help attract new members from a wider set of neighbourhoods including Shawlands, Langside and Mount Florida.
Harvey reported that he voted in 2021 to retain the existing name, but having since learned about the 1873 Club, would now like to change the name to continue a historic local tradition. Julien and Graeme highlighted the reality that most members already come from the wider Queens Park area outside Govanhill. Derek said the change of name would be helpful in avoiding a situation in which small, precarious clubs are set up in the different neighbourhoods around Queens Park. He noted some online discussions about setting up a Shawlands Chess Club, and felt it would be better for a single, active and sustainable Club to serve the area.
Alex Lane asked if there would be any bureaucratic challenges associated with the change of name, and it was noted the Club would need to notify a number of parties, and change its website domain name, official email addresses, and Facebook page name.
There was a discussion about the merits and drawbacks, and Julien called the matter to a vote. With five votes in favour of the change and two abstentions, it was agreed the Club would henceforth be known as Queens Park Chess Club.
Graeme said he strongly felt the change was for the best, as a local person who has lived in, and is passionate about, several of the local neighbourhoods. Harvey said the Club’s debt to Govanhill, and its period as Govanhill Chess Club, should be fully acknowledged. Derek said he was working on a historical webpage that would include a timeline and a prominent reference to its Govanhill roots.
What the minutes don’t record, is why the apostrophe was left out when the new Club name was adopted.
Immediately following the above vote, the question was asked: “before we do the league registrations and everything, are we spelling Queens Park with or without an apostrophe?”
Blank looks followed. “You know, I’m actually not sure.” “Is it owned by the Queen?” “Is it a reference to multiple Queens?”
Then someone said “Look!” and pointed out the bar window to Queens Park. Heads turned to follow the outstretched arm. Almost as one, the Committee said: “No apostrophe!”.
Sure enough, the official Glasgow City Council park signs, look like this:
The answer was settled (history doesn’t record why no-one simply took their phone out and Googled). We registered our apostrophe-less new name with Chess Scotland, the Glasgow Chess League, and other parties. We developed a new logo, changed our banking name, website domain, sorted out our social media channels, email signatures etc. All using Queens Park.
Several months passed, and Committee Members began to notice the preferred description of Queens Park is actually: Queen’s Park. We started seeing it everywhere. On the Glasgow City Council website. In official city documents. Queen’s Park Football Club. Friends of Queen’s Park. Queen’s Park Parkrun. Even the ubiquitous Wikipedia uses an apostrophe in its Queen’s Park entry. Everywhere an apostrophe, it seems, apart from the signs on the Park. And your humble Chess Club.
So when we realised the mistake, why didn’t we make the change? Well, by now we had become used to it – among other reasons to stick with it. It made us distinctive. It had become part of the modern Club’s lore. There are two Queens on a chessboard – not one. We feel the park is owned by the good people of Glasgow, not a monarch. And maybe, just maybe, over drinks in a private conversation with a trusted friend, we may reluctantly concede, if we were absolutely sure no-one else was listening, that retrofitting the apostrophe would have involved some hard (OK, mild) work.
So there you go – if you are the latest person to ask the above question – you will have received a link to this page. Still not happy? Take it up with whoever commissioned the Queens Park (sic) signs for Glasgow City Council.
Finally, if you are curious about who the mysterious Queen of Queens Park is, it’s named after Mary Queen of Scots, whose forces were defeated in the nearby Battle of Langside; and not after Queen Victoria, as commonly assumed. It was created from land donated to the City of Glasgow in 1857, designed by the influential architect and botanist Sir Joseph Paxton, and initially known as the South Side Park.
We leave the reader with a closing thought. Mary died in 1587, and could never be said to have ‘owned’ the Park. Perhaps the apostrophe has been wrongly used all along. Perhaps Queens Park Chess Club, and whoever made the Park signs, proudly stand on the grammatically correct side of history. Perhaps, if there are any ‘absolute morons’ in this story with a poor grasp of the rules and traditions of the English language, it isnae us pal – awright?
* in reality, these questions are invariably put to us very politely. Main image created by artificial intelligence using Dall-E.
The above post has generated some unexpected debate! Thank you to those who commented.
We are delighted to give the final word to Bob McCalden, Chair of the UK Apostrophe Protection Society (yes, it’s real!), who kindly took the time to review our situation and comment. Bob provided the following notes and clarifications:
- The usage, or not, of an apostrophe in “Queen’s Park” is somewhat inconsistent, even by Glasgow City Council – although the “general view and established usage” for the area favours inclusion of the apostrophe.
- Possessive apostrophes can also denote an association, not solely ownership.
- As Queens Park Chess Club’s name is derived from the area, it may be strictly correct to use an apostrophe.
- Queens Park Chess Club is, however, a brand name, and brand names can justifiably drop apostrophes – see the Waterstones example.
- Consistency is key: “If you want to omit the apostrophe, make sure you do so everywhere.”
While we will remain Queens Park Chess Club, we support good apostrophe hygiene, and are happy to promote the Apostrophe Society’s simple rules on usage.