THE widow of one of Huddersfield’s best-known businessmen has donated his collection of chess sets from around the world to the town.
Lady Kagan has given her late husband, Joseph’s, sets to Huddersfield Chess Club.
Lady Kagan, who lives in Fixby, found the boards in a storage room.
The treasure trove of chess sets will now be given a new lease of life after she donated them to the club.
They have many fond memories for Lady Kagan.
“The chess boards all date back a long, long time,’’ she said. “Joseph was always playing chess and loved collecting chess boards.
“Whenever somebody was thinking about what to buy him for a present for his birthday or Christmas they would always get him a chess board. That started a collection which grew and grew.
“I remember going to Russia once and buying him one as a present as I knew it would be just what he wanted.”
Lord Kagan was the founder of Kagan Textiles based in Elland.
His firm made raincoats from the waterproof Gannex fabric he invented and were famously worn by Prime Minister Harold Wilson.
Chess was his main hobby from being a young boy and he passionately played the game throughout his life until he died in 1995.
It was only recently when Lady Kagan was looking through his possessions that she discovered the chess sets.
Some come from as far away as India and Russia, while others are more comical and based on past Prime Ministers or Disney characters.
Lady Kagan added: “I used to play myself. I taught our two boys to play, but I gave up when they started to beat me.
“It was hard to give up the sets, but I am very pleased the club will benefit from Joseph’s hobby.
“I wish I could have used them to encourage young people to spend their time better, but I don’t think chess is the way to do that.
“It’s a wonderful hobby and myself and Joseph had many wonderful times playing chess. I always found people who played chess to be so interesting.
“But the most important thing is Joseph would be so pleased and delighted his chess sets are being used and appreciated again.”
Robert Sutcliffe, a former secretary for Huddersfield Chess Club, said everyone at the club was grateful for Lady Kagan’s kind donation.
He said: “There are 20 of them and they are splendid pieces. I think some of them date back to the 1950s and 1960s.
“One of them features Harold Wilson and Jim Callaghan so we can tell the period that dates to, but some others are more ambiguous.
“They are certainly very impressive pieces which we were delighted and thankful to receive.”
He added that the club would be researching the history and value of them before deciding how they should be used.
Huddersfield Chess Club has just ended a successful season by winning the district championship for the first time since 1999 and is in pole position to take the Calderdale title.
They have also maintained their place in the Woodhouse Cup.