Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Bell Quaich

Faed Sproat was a weel kent farmer and curler from the Stewartry of Kirkcubrightshire from the early 1930s onwards. His mother club was Anwoth. I was fortunate recently to be given by his daughter some curling items from his estate. Among these was a small silver medal.

As the pictures of it show, it was won by a rink competing in the Bell Quaich competition in 1939, the year of the trophy’s donation and of the opening of the original (The Aul’) Ice Rink in Ayr.

The medal was intriguing from a number of viewpoints. It was one of the very earliest prizes from Ayr Ice Rink; and the obverse was of a design with which I was familiar. A bit of research showed that it had been won by a rink of which Faed Sproat was a member.

The Quaich was presented by E A Bell, the first secretary of the ice rink curling club, for inter-district competition. The first winners were The Stewartry, and the small medal was obviously the prize which was given to each member of the winning rink.

As will appear from the illustrations there are other examples of this design. The first I acquired are thin, uniface, gilded strikings with no clue as to when or where or why they were made. The same comments go for the second example I got, except for the fact that it is bronze and ungilded. The third is thicker, has a rim and is in the form of a blank medal for engraving and presentation. Sadly, it too gives no clue as to why, where, or when. The small medal is 'signed'. That is, it bears the maker’s name, John Pinches, who was a well-known London medallist.

The Bell Quaich still exists; it is still played for at Ayr but no longer for inter-district competition. In fact, the original plinth which boldly proclaimed its inter-district nature has been pensioned off.

The photograph shows that the plinth is made of ebonised wood and of heptagonal cross-section. On each of the seven faces is a silver plaque bearing the appropriate heraldry for each of the original districts, the team of each of which had to consist of three rinks. They are:

Kyle,
Carrick,
Cunningham,
Machars,
Rhins,
Stewartry,
Dumfriesshire.

That for the Stewartry includes as the first winners’ inscription in 1939 'JF Sproat'.

This is a photograph of the first winning rink and the Quaich in 1939. Faed is wearing the plus fours, front left.

Faed Sproat is second from the right in the front row. The picture is of Stewartry curlers and Americans on tour to Scotland in 1952.

David B Smith.

2 comments:

gmcurl said...

David, that last photo looks suspicously like it was taken on the steps leading from the Bow Lounge at Cally Palace, Gatehouse of Fleet??

John McKinlay said...

My late Grandfather, John R. McKinlay - First row, second from the left. Great picture to find on the internet and one I've never seen before. Thanks, John R. Mckinlay (grandson)