In 2012, the Edinburgh Curling Club celebrates its centenary. Plans are well advanced for the centenary dinner at the city’s Corn Exchange on Saturday, February 25, and before that a series of ten centenary bonspiels at the Murrayfield Curling Rink on January 28 and 29. The bonspiels are all but fully-subscribed as I write and we have sold over three hundred tickets for the dinner. All of these celebrations were made possible by a linked, but totally separate series of events in 1910.
By that time, the west end of Edinburgh was built up as we know it today. If you were to travel back in time, your twenty-first century olfactory sensibilities would be assaulted by the different smells of the time and you might notice a smoky pall in the air; almost everyone would be smoking something or other and the noises you would hear would not be the sounds of idling internal combustion engines waiting interminably at the traffic lights, but instead be the clip-clopping of horses’ hooves on cobblestones mixed with the screech of metal wheels on tram lines. But the buildings that you see today were already built and the Haymarket station was a longstanding feature of the landscape, having opened in 1842 as the original terminus for the Edinburgh and Glasgow railway.
Just beside the station, John Swan and company had their Edinburgh operation, but it was landlocked and too small for purpose, so they moved their auctioneering business out to Gorgie, near the newly-developed Corn Exchange building. The new Haymarket ice rink was built on the freed-up parcel of land and opened for business in February 1912. The directors of John Swan and company presented a magnificent trophy to the Edinburgh Curling Club for double rink competition. To this day the trophy is presented to the winners of 'the Swan', as the competition is known.
It really is a great format, perhaps because it is so little used. A club presents two teams; they play against another club’s two teams side-by-side and the game scores are totalled. No ends or points come into play – just the shots-up. You have to keep a wary eye on your own game, but adjust your tactics in case the other game is going (or not going) according to plan. Great fun.
This year – the centenary year of the competition – the two semi finals pitched Midcalder CC against Haddington CC, and Currie and Balerno CC against Oxenfoord CC. Currie and Balerno and Midcalder prevailed, so the scene was set for a thrilling final. Currie and Balerno’s Andrew Galloway skipped Robin Copland, Raymond Preston and Caitlin Barr against Midcalder’s Stewart Barr, Basil Baird, Andrew Brash and Lesley Barr. The game started off tight but a big steal of two in the fourth end gave the Midcalder team a two-point lead which they added to in the next couple of ends. In the meantime, Currie and Balerno’s Brian Fleming skipped club president Dave Munro, Bob Barr and Andrew Cargill to a small lead in a tight game against Midcalder’s Alan Russell, John Baird, Scott Baird and Graham Young.
Come the eighth end Midcalder led in one game by three shots in the Barr versus Galloway game but were down in the Fleming versus Russell game by two shots. Try as they might, the Galloway team could not get a stone in the four foot behind the cover. They had plenty of chances and did not take one! Meanwhile, on the other sheet, Midcalder had put the squeeze on and managed a two-shot steal to peel their game. A great performance by Midcalder’s two teams; they drew one game and won the other. In so doing they stopped a Currie and Balerno hat trick.
Jack Clark, the managing director of John Swan Ltd presented the trophy at a happy prize giving ceremony in the club rooms immediately after the games. The celebratory party went on well into the night!
Top: Winners of the Swan Trophy, Midcalder CC. Back L-R: Jack Clark (managing director of John Swan Ltd), Stewart Barr, Alan Russell, John Baird, Scott Baird and Andrew Brash. Front: Graham Young, Lesley Barr and Basil Baird. Photo by Ian Millar.
Above: Currie and Balerno CC, the runners-up in the competition. L-R: Jack Clark (managing director of John Swan Ltd), Andrew Galloway, Robin Copland, Andrew Cargill, Dave Munro, Brian Fleming, Raymond Preston, Caitlin Barr and Bob Barr. Photo by Ian Millar.
The two winning skips, Stewart Barr, Jack Clark (MD of John Swan Ltd) and Alan Russell, with the Swan trophy. Photo by Ian Millar.