Friday, 16 August 2019

Midlothian Province Bonspiel, 31 January 1900

Norman Nicol has unearthed a fascinating story about Balerno CC and he provides us with a real glimpse into the past in the following article.  Many thanks to Laura Barr, who did a lot of the "leg work" research to bring the story to life.  Enjoy the read...

Margaret Barr (the surname is purely coincidental, and she is no relation of any of the many Barrs in our club!), contacted us about an old photograph she had found in her father’s belongings.

The photograph depicted eleven gentlemen, dressed in their ‘Sunday Best’ behind a plethora of Curling Trophies and Medals.  “Where’s the photograph?”  I hear you ask; just be patient as the story unfolds!

So, what do you do when you receive an old photograph?  You hope you recognise someone it, when or where it was taken or what is going on.  It came with a few clues.  Margaret knew it was of a curling club, either Currie or Balerno.  She was also able to identify some of the personalities in the picture.

When was it taken?  Judging by the gentlemen’s attire it must have been between 1890 and 1920.  The trophy was the big clue; it is the magnificent Midlothian Province Bonspiel Cup.  Once the cup had been identified, it was a simple matter of tracking it down and having a look at it to determine when either Currie or Balerno won the Bonspiel.  We discovered that it was Balerno CC that had prevailed in season 1899-1900.  Furthermore, extracts from the year book highlighted the club membership and the bonspiel result.

Here is the extract from the year book pertaining to the Midlothian Province Bonspiel held on 31st January 1900.

“The bonspiel in connection with this Province of the RCCC took place at Cobbinshaw on the 31st January last. The bonspiel was favoured with fine weather, the ice being splendid condition for the “roaring game”.  Mr. Peter Shaw, who acted as umpire, carried out the arrangements of the rinks in a highly satisfactory manner.

There were altogether 80 rinks forward, representing 320 curlers.  The number of clubs in the Midlothian Province is twenty-nine, twenty-eight of which entered for the Bonspiel.  After nearly three hours’ play gunfire announced the close of the contest.  It was found that Balerno Club with three rinks forward, with an average of 8 1/3 up per rink, had carried off the RCCC Province Medal and the Midlothian silver Trophy for the year.  Messrs. James Fairbairn Snr (skip), Thomas Horsburgh, James Fairbairn Jnr and William Wood, the players in the highest (Balerno) club received gold badges.  The President of the Province, Sir James H Gibson-Craig, Bart., who unfortunately was unable to be present, gave a pair of curling stones and handles as a prize to the rink making the greatest majority over its opponents, under condition that the members of the winning rink play off for same at points.  This prize was won by a Penicuik rink with 24 shots up, the players being Messrs. Charles Buchanan, skip; John Fleming, James Steele and John Hunter, and the pair of silver-mounted handles given by the Vice President Mr. Alex Fairley, were won by the rink skipped by Mr. James Fairbairn, Balerno, with 23 shots up.  This makes the ninth Midlothian bonspiel that has been played since this fixture was instituted in 1879, and the following are the winners in their order:- Corstorphine, Dalkeith, Temple, Glencorse, Rosslyn, Lasswade, Merchiston, Whitehall and Balerno.  The general arrangements were carried through in a most satisfactory manner by the club’s secretary, Mr Colin C. Moffat. S.S.C., Edinburgh.”

Another interesting point was the number of curlers who were members of both clubs back in the early 1890s to 1910, a foretell of what lay ahead.

Going off on a slight tangent here, for those of our club members who participated in the outdoor curling in Princes Street Gardens, you may remember a magnificent set of curling stones which had a pair of silver-mounted handles.  Could they be the silver-mounted handles referred to in the extract from the year book?  Indeed, could they have been the curling stones in the photograph?  If anyone has any further information please let us know.

And now for the Photograph.

Balerno Curling Club
Winners Midlothian Province Bonspiel
31 January 1900

We have identified a few of the curlers in the picture.  John T Campbell from Shothead is standing at the far right hand side in the back row.  Next to him is his brother-in-law, David Wylie from Pilmuir - the very same Pilmuir that was farmed by the Holmes family until the house was demolished to make way for Cala houses about fifteen years ago or so.  The club's own Tom Holmes of course farmed there for many years. 

In the front row, second on the left is John Campbell, possibly from Goodtrees.  Goodtrees is again in Balerno and is owned by Sir David Thompson. 

Further research has unearthed that David Wylie (1864 - 1953) was Margaret Barr's great-grandfather's younger brother.  He had moved to Balerno as recently as 1894, when his parents moved from Castlemains in Gifford. 

John T Campbell (1871 - 1940) married David's sister, Barbara, in 1896.  They lived in Starr, Kilmary.  Margaret assumes that John Clifford is John T's father.  

Margaret thought that some of the curlers featured in the picture would have included
David Wylie senior
David Wylie junior
Robert Wylie, all of whom farmed Haughhead in Balerno (now farmed by the Wardlaws)
Thomas Horsburgh, blacksmith, of Glenbrook Road, Balerno.  Nook and Alistair Weir now live in the old Smiddy
There are Campbells, including Charlie Campbell, who were members of both Currie and Balerno CCs around this time
John Potts, who farmed at Bankhead, Balerno was a curler with Currie CC in the 1880s.

A number of the curlers featured were at the Balerno Burns Club, "Let it Blaw" dinner in 1881.

If anyone has any additional information about any of these gentlemen, please let us know.

Finally, one of the gentlemen featured in the photograph is the famous Balerno blacksmith of the time, Thomas Horsburgh.  He is deserving of an entire and separate article.  Look out for that in the coming months!

Thursday, 23 May 2019

End of Season Round Up

First off - have a look at this picture. It's from the front cover of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club's Your Curler magazine. 
Morna Aitken and Gina Aitken in Stavanger
Photo courtesy of WCF and taken by Tom Rowland
Recognise anyone?  It reflects great credit on the Aitken family that the RCCC chose to publish a picture of Mother Morna and Daughter Gina, both of whom had Scotland on their backs - Morna in the Scottish Ladies team playing with our own Susan Kesley and Fran Stretton, ably assisted by Vicky Gumley in the World Senior Ladies Curling Championship, and Gina, partnered by Scott Andrews, playing in the World Mixed Doubles Championship.

Team Scotland at the World Senior Curling Championships in Stavanger
Pictured here after winning the Scottish Senior Ladies Curling Championships
(from left) Fran Stretton (third), Morna Aitken (lead), David Aitken (coach)
Susan Kesley (skip) and Vicky Gumley (second)
Susan's team was coached by David Aitken so it was a real family affair out in Stavanger in Norway.  As members will know, Susan, Fran, Vicky and Morna came agonisingly close to a medal, just losing out to Switzerland in the Bronze Medal play-off game, having earlier lost the semi-final to a strong Canadian team that went on to win Gold in the final.

C&B's own Gina Aitken with Scott Andrews
Photo courtesy of WCF and taken by Tom Rowland
Gina and Scott finished ninth in the World Mixed Doubles Championship, losing in the round of 16 to Estonia.  Though they were disappointed not to have progressed further, the fact of the matter is that anything can happen in a one-off game in the knock-out stages of any competition.

Friday, 15 March 2019

Lymphoy Trophy Round 7 Results and Final League Table

There was a wee while when Susan Kesley's team, skipped by Gina Aitken, had inched closer to Robin Copland's team in ends scored.  Robin and his team had scored a three in the first end, then had lost the next four ends in a row - the last one when Robin dumped an in-turn hit into all kinds of guards that really should not have been in play - a four-shot swing!  4-3 down after five and Gina 9-2 ahead after four ends and three ends on the board already!  Gina/ Susan keep winning ends/ Robin and company keep losing ends and...

After four ends, Katie Wood, also in the running for the Glenbrook Quaich was 7-5 up against Brian Fleming (including a five scored in end 4).  She had gone into the game with a good ends score so was very much in the running as well.

Then, there was John Steven.  He was going for the perfect seven-win streak in the competition.  His cause was hampered by regular third Niall Gunn's absence due to back problems, but we welcomed Jared Lander (apologies if I have your name mangled there, Jared!), an American curler visiting Scotland to be a keynote speaker at a data conference, who was subbing for Richie Anderson.  In the middle ends of their game, the three of them (regular second Rowena Steven moved up to throw third stones) controlled the game beautifully and had three steals in a row in ends two through five.

Bob Barr was also there or thereabouts and, after a slow start, was fighting his way back into things until a four in end 7 brought things to a shuddering halt!  As Bob put it, we were six down against a team being skipped Gina Aitken and she didn't need the ends.  Hand shake time.

Robin Copland, Morna Aitken, Lois Copland and Norman Nicol win the Glenbrook Quaich

So, it all came good for Robin, Morna Aitken, Lois Copland and substitute Andrew Cargill.  They managed to get on the board again in end six, which brought the game back to peels.  A steal in end seven, when John's last stone just failed to take an angled-raised
 double (John played the shot under time pressure) and a choice for him in end eight.  A (difficult) draw to the four foot round some guards for a peel, or an even more difficult long raise to win the game.  To be fair, he had to take it on and go for the raise; the shot just failed, leaving Robin and company with another steal and the win.  This game could have gone either way though - make no mistake.

Here's the final results grid with tonight's results

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Susan Kesley       6 5 4 2 9 2 6 3 4 6 3 4 13 7 4 2 7 1 3 7 3
Shona Watt 5 6 3       7 9 4 7 7 3 5 3 4 5 6 4 6 6 3 4 6 4
John Steven 9 2 5 9 7 4       7 2 5 10 2 5 10 6 4 9 2 5 4 6 4
Katie Wood 3 6 3 7 7 4 2 7 2       7 5 4 9 4 6 7 10 2 6 6 4
Jenny Barr 3 6 3 3 5 3 2 10 2 5 7 3       6 9 2 8 5 4 8 5 4
Bob Barr 7 13 3 6 5 3 6 10 4 4 9 2 9 6 5       8 5 5 5 5 5
Brian Fleming 7 2 5 6 6 4 2 9 2 10 7 5 5 8 3 5 8 2       2 11 2
Robin Copland 7 3 4 6 4 3 6 4 4 6 6 3 5 8 3 5 5 3 11 2 5      

And the final league table looks like this.  Congratulations again to John Steven, Niall Gunn, Rowena Steven and RIchie Anderson.  Winning the Lymphoy Trophy with a game to spare is a great achievement!

  Team Played Ends Shots u/(d) Shots scored Points
1 John Steven 7 32 31 58 12
2 Robin Copland 7 25 14 46 10
3 Susan Kesley 7 22 -3 38 8
4 Bob Barr 7 27 -8 45 7
5 Katie Wood 7 25 -4 41 6
6 Brian Fleming 7 23 -14 37 5
7 Shona Watt 7 25 -4 39 4
8 Jenny Barr 7 21 -12 35 4

Monday, 11 March 2019

Lymphoy Trophy Round 6.2 Results and League Table

Congratulations to John Steven, Niall Gunn, Rowena Steven and Richie Anderson - Winners of the Lymphoy Trophy

Many congratulations to John and his team who, with one round remaining cannot now be caught and are deserving winners of the Lymphoy Trophy.  They had a big win against Jenny Barr to seal their victory in the league.  Here is the game grid.

Susan Kesley   654292634634   271373
Shona Watt563   794773   564663464
John Steven925974   72510251064925   
Katie Wood363774272   754946   664
Jenny Barr363   2102573   692854854
Bob Barr   6536104492965   855555
Brian Fleming725664292   583582   2112
Robin Copland734643   6635835531125   

The other game has thrown the race for the Glenbrook Quaich wide open!  Have a look at the league table first of all, then be prepared to be bored to sobs as I run you through the various permutations... (ooh err, missus.  Ah cannae wait.  Haud me back!)

 TeamPlayedEndsShots u/(d)Shots scoredPoints
1John Steven628335412
2Robin Copland62112408
3Bob Barr624-2387
4Katie Wood623-1346
5Susan Kesley618-9256
6Jenny Barr618-10324
7Brian Fleming618-17273
8Shona Watt621-6242

  • Robin has John to play.  To ensure second place in the table, he has to win the game, because that would take him to an unassailable ten points.  A draw would take him clear of everyone, except Bob who, if he beats Susan, would in all probability still overtake him on ends.
  • Bob Barr plays Susan Kesley.  Bob needs at least a draw against Susan.  That would draw him level with Robin on points (in the event that Robin loses his game against John), but move him ahead of Robin (in all probability), because he has three more ends going into the last round.  If he wins against Susan and Robin loses or draws, well, you get the picture.
  • Susan has to beat Bob by six clear ends and eight shots in order to overtake him in the table.  Oh - and hope that Katie loses or only draws her game against Shona Watt.  Oh - and finally, hope that John gubs Robin so that she can overtake him in the table as well.
  • Katie has to beat Brian Fleming.  She is currently two ends ahead of Robin, but two points behind, so she has to score no worse than two ends less than Robin in the final round, hope that Robin loses and hope that Susan beats or draws with Bob and, in the event of the latter (a draw), she wins her game by at least four shots.
In other words, a case can be made for four potential winners of the Glenbrook Quaich - not a bad finish to the season.

There is one other game being played.  Shona v Jenny.  What can we say?  Nobody cares.  The caring gene has been sucked out of the world as far as this game is concerned.  The crowd will look around, embarrassed for all concerned.  Well, it's maybe not that bad!  I think that Jenny could leap up the table to fourth.  And Shona who, let's not forget was last year's winner of this trophy, could leap off the bottom of the table to sixth.

Crivens and helpmaboab - what a night is in store!