Club History

Curling probably started in the local area towards the end of the 18th century as a social activity.  The first local mention of the sport appears in a poem published by James Thomson in 1801
Twa curling stanes he also had
Which ran out o'er the ice...

Currie and Balerno curling club can trace its history back to two separate and very different clubs, the Currie curling club, instituted in 1830 and the later Balerno curling club which was founded in 1895.

The Currie curling club was established by the local gentry in the early 1800s.  Early members included the well-known Gibson-Craig family, Colonel Scott of Malleny, Robert Palmer (the schoolmaster of Currie), Dr David Somerville (minister of Currie Kirk) and David Cunningham of Harlaw.

They used to gather in the Ferguson Arms and later at the Riccarton Arms.

The club was influential in the development of the game of curling as we now know it - both in the equipment used and in the rules of the game.
  • Dr Somerville is credited with the invention of the "justice", a device for marking out the house, the "counter", for keeping the score and the "toe-see", which was originally an aiming point placed in the centre of the house.
  • There was some debate at the time between supporters of Dr Somerville and John Cairnie, the famous Largs curler as to which of the two men invented the shallow curling pond. 
  • Members of the club were involved in the design of stones and handles of the time.
  • Dr Somerville, Robert Palmer and David Cunningham invented the rules of the "points" game, played to this day.
  • Founder members of the club were instrumental in the formation of the Grand (later Royal) Caledonian Curling Club.
The club's greatest claim to fame in these early years was the winning of the 1847 Grand Match.

The Balerno curling club was founded for ordinary folk in 1895 and first met in the school room in October of that year.  Members played on natural ponds and later on an artificial pond built at Johnsburn behind the local smithy.

The two clubs combined in 1928 and continued to play on the natural and artificial ponds of the area as well as the Haymarket ice rink.  The club owned a wooden clubhouse and much of its curling was done at night under first acetylane lamps before electric power was installed.  During the Second World War, the ponds fell into disrepair and a lague of moles finally put paid to things.  The last time that outdoor curling took place on the artificial rinks was 1954.

Today, the club has a playing membership of 32 with a healthy reserve and waiting list.  It played at Gogar Park curling club until it shut down and now the club plays its competitions at the Murrayfield curling rink most Fridays during the curling season.

Club members have had some notable national and international successes.

Anne Laird has won multiple Scottish Ladies Championships, played in the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver and was a member of the Ladies World Championship Gold Medal rink in 2002.  In 2010, she was a member of the Silver Medal winning rinks in both the World and European Championships.

Gillian Barr and Kerry Barr have won multiple Scottish Junior Championships and have also won World Junior Curling Championship Gold Medals.  

Graeme Copland was Scottish Junior Champion in 2005; he won a Bronze Medal at the World Junior Championships and, as winner of the GB University Championships went on to win a silver medal at the World University Games in 2007.  Ian Copland represented Great Britain at the World University Games in Harbin, China in 2009.

Colin Barr and Robin Copland are past winners of the Scottish Men's Championship and Colin is also a past winner of the Scottish Pairs Championship.

Louise Edwards (nee Wood) and Kerry Barr are multiple winners of the Scottish Mixed Championship and have also won Gold Medals at the European Mixed Championships.

Susan McLean, Fran Harvey and Katie Wood won the Scottish Junior Ladies Championship in 1984 and followed that up with Bronze Medals at the European Junior Ladies Curling Championships in the same year. 

Susan Kesley (nee McLean) and Fran Stretton (nee Harvey) together with Morna Aitken won the Scottish Senior Ladies Curling Championship in 2018.  They went on (with Vicky Gumley) to compete in the World Senior Ladies Championships where they reached the quarter-final round.  The same team went on to repeat their 2018 success in the Scottish Senior Curling Championship in 2019 in their home rink at Murrayfield.
Tasha Aitken and Caitlin Barr are both past winners of the Scottish Junior Ladies Championship.  Tasha's sister, Gina Aitken skipped her team to victory in the 2014 Scottish Junior Ladies Championship.

David Aitken won the Scottish Junior Championship in 1986.  He followed that up with a Gold Medal at the World Junior Championship that year, skipping his team to victory over Canada's Kevin Martin in the final.

Gina Aitken won the Scottish Mixed Doubles championships in 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2018.

Rebecca Kesley was in the team that made both  the final of the Scottish Championship and Scottish Ladies Junior Championship in 2011.  She represented Great Britain in the European Youth Olympics Winter Festival in 2009 and won a Gold Medal.  Struan Wood won a Silver Medal at the same competition.

Jimmy Barr and Ian Gibb won the Scottish Senior Championship in 2006.

Robin Copland won the Scottish Senior Championship in 2004 and again with Lois Copland in 2015.

Kirsty Barr and Emma Barr were both members of the Scottish Junior Ladies Champions team in 2019.

Kerry Barr, David Copland, Steven Kennedy, Annie Barr (representing Currie High School) and Struan Wood (representing Daniel Stewart's and Melville College) are all past Scottish School Curling Champions. 

1 comment:

  1. I found an old bronze Currie and Balerno pin among my late fathers curling collection. I'm newly retired and was happy to find the history behind the pin. My Dad played the game well and loved it too.Cheers to you all.