Swiggers Games Club

Board games in central London on Wednesday evenings

Gone virtual until further notice

Yes, the pub is closed because of the pandemic and we're all socially-distant. However, we are continuing to play games, virtually, on Wednesday evenings on various websites. If you're interested in joining us, email Pevans or post on our BGG Guild.

Playing games at Swiggers - July 2013Swiggers meets every* Wednesday evening to play board games. Our usual venue is the upstairs room at the Shipwright's Arms (88 Tooley Street, London SE1). This is 2 minutes walk from London Bridge station (Tooley Street exit and turn right) – here's a map (in a new window). The refurbished room (a while ago now) is great: the light-coloured walls, a large mirror and more powerful lightbulbs mean the lighting level is better than it used to be. The tables and chairs are good, too.

Things get going as people arrive – there are generally enough of us to start something soon after 6 pm. The pub has a decent menu: food can be ordered (from the main bar on the ground floor) until 9 pm and drinks are served until much later. We usually pack up between 10:30 and 11 pm, but this varies according to people's commitments.

Playing games at Swiggers - Nov 2013We welcome visitors and new members. If you have an interest in board games, pop along one Wednesday evening and find out what it's all about. If there's anything you particularly want to play, do bring it along - or use the mailing list to see if anyone else has it. If you want to know more, e-mail Pevans.

Or see what's happening at the Swiggers BGG Guild.

It's not used as much these days, but there's also a mailing list for Swiggers: follow the link to sign up.

More things about Swiggers:

* The deal we have with the pub is that we get the room free, provided they don't have a paid booking, so we occasionally miss a week when the room is booked (not at all in 2019). We also skip one or two Wednesdays around Christmas and the New Year.

Games we play

The games we play are generally modern, proprietary, board (and card) games, usually involving more skill than luck. In particular, we play games produced in Germany, where board games are a much more significant part of the culture, as well as the UK and USA. Examples of the sort of games we play include: Agricola, Ave Caesar, Escape from Colditz, Puerto Rico, (Settlers of) Catan and Ticket to Ride. More recently published games that we play include: Azul, Gloomhaven, Great Western Trail, Scythe, Viticulture and others.

We are also home to a Skat league, which takes place on the first and third Wednesdays of the month, playing the vintage German card game.

We have had occasional role-playing sessions, but not for some years now.


The club started life in 1980 (probably – memories are hazy) as the Esso (London) Games Society. The six founder members (Paul Evans, Paul Hanton, Pete Munn, Mike Sharp, Steve Tayler, Alison Wells) all worked for Esso Petroleum in central London and discovered a common interest in role-playing games (specifically Dungeons & Dragons). They set up the club, which met in the social club in the basement of Esso's office block in Victoria (London SW1). The club grew rapidly and the members became regulars at TSR's annual GamesFair convention in Reading.

The proportion of Esso employees dwindled over the years and the group eventually had to leave Esso premises in the late Eighties. We moved to The Victoria, on Buckingham Palace Road and became Swiggers {SW1 g(am)ers}. Over the next couple of years, several pubs were the home of the club until it settled in The Royal Oak on Regency Street, SW1 for several years from June 1991. At the same time, the focus of the club gradually shifted from role-playing to board games and the membership changed.

Redevelopment of the Royal Oak in 1997 forced a further move. After a few unsatisfactory months at the Rising Sun on Buckingham Palace Road, we moved to SE1 and the Bunch of Grapes on St Thomas Street in 1998. The upstairs room at this Young's pub remained our base – through several changes of manager – for eight years.

A new manager took over the Bunch of Grapes towards the end of 2006 and started making things difficult for the club. After he refused to honour our booking of the room, despite having assured us the week before that we were welcome at the pub, we decided we had to find another venue. We are now based at the Shipwright's Arms on Tooley Street (a couple of minutes' walk from London Bridge station).

The club currently has 10-12 people attending each week (it has been as high as 30) and a much larger membership. One of the founders, Paul Evans, is still a regular. The club has no formal rules, membership requirements or membership fees. We welcome anyone who plays games – come and join us.