Sunday, August 02, 2009

Curling's history celebrated in restored Thomson's Tower

Thomson's Tower, here seen from across Duddingston Loch, was built by the Duddingston Curling Society whose members first penned the rules of curling. It was their 'curling house' where they met and kept their stones. It was constructed in 1825.

The Tower is an octagonal building designed by William Henry Playfair (1789-1857), a famous Edinburgh architect. Duddingston Curling Society was one of the foremost societies of its time, having a membership of eminent men of the day including peers, baronets, judges, and lawyers. In 1804 the society drew up a Code of Laws by which play was to be regulated. These eventually formed the basis for the rules of curling.

The Tower is within Dr Neil's Garden. More on the history of the club and of the curling house is on the the website of Dr Neil's Garden Trust here.

The Tower was completely derelict until 1978 when it was re-roofed by the Duddingston Village Conservation Society, thanks to donations received from various sources, including Rotarian curlers from Canada.

Over the last two years, Dr Neil's Garden Trust has completely restored the Tower with grant aid from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Trust for Scotland and Historic Scotland. Ian Seath, pictured above, has been instrumental in making the project happen.

The restored building was officially opened on Friday, July 31, 2009. That story is here.

The walls of the curling room have colourful, accurate and informative story boards, such as this one. (Click to view larger size)

The centre of the room has a display case with a variety of treasures!

A number of stones are on display and can be examined closely.

Archive video footage can be watched, bringing curling's history to life. Of particular note, is a film of the 1935 Grand Match on Carsebreck.

Ian Seath with curling historian David B Smith at the official opening of the restored Thomson's Tower.

For details of when Thomson's Tower with the curling exhibit is open, see here. And there's a related history blog post about the Rev John Ramsay, a member of the Duddingston Curling Society, here.

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