For ten years David Smith has been making a record of all the places where a game of curling has taken place. He began by going through all the Annuals of the Grand/Royal Caledonian Curling Club, from its inception in 1838 to the present day. From these volumes he noted the name of the place where any sort of game was recorded.
David also used the minute books of curling clubs as well as newspapers, and books. The comprehensive term 'places' has been used because of the variety of locations. Throughout the
recorded history of curling there is no doubt that the commonest place was the purpose-built pond. Clubs expended huge amounts of time, money and effort on the construction and maintenance of such shallow-water ponds. They also took every opportunity to play on dams and reservoirs, constructed for industrial and other purposes, when the ice there was satisfactory; and for large matches it was usual to play on natural, or man-made, lochs, and on surprisingly numerous occasions on frozen rivers, and, sometimes, canals.
The list of curling places was expanded in October 2000 and again in 2002, David studying old maps from across Scotland which show actual curling ponds.
The list was updated again in 2003 and in 2006, and now the newest version (2008) is available. It is hosted on the Royal Caledonian Curling Club website and can be downloaded here. It's a big pdf file. There are more than 2,500 places listed.
David will be pleased to receive information on curling places from curlers. He says, "If I already have it, no matter; but it may be new and important."
Many clubs keep alive the tradition of curling outside, and some continue to maintain their own 'curling places'. The top picture is of curling at Carrbridge on the club's tarmac rink in 2003. The photo is by David Robertson. More about the Carrbridge club is here.
Strathendrick Curling Club is another example. Check out photos of curling on their pond at Drumore here. Of many curling places, no trace remains, and old photographs of curling outside are quite rare. But sometimes one comes across tantalising references to curling places which are no more, such as 'Curling Pond Lane' a housing development in Longridge, West Lothian.