Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Curling into the New Year, 1887

Pitfour House and estate lies in the north east of Scotland. Here, courtesy of the British Newspaper Archive is a record of curling, and skating, on Hogmanay 1886, from the Aberdeen Press and Journal, January 3, 1887. I just love the idea of curlers playing in the dark, just with the light from lamps set on the ice!


"Friday (Hogmanay) was fixed for a curling tournament and skating carnival on the Lake of Pitfour by torchlight but the complete success of the proceedings was somewhat marred by an unexpected fresh which set in. The number of curlers and skaters which arrived was not as large as it might have been. The ice was somewhat soft, and with falls of rain soon became wet, and thus very disagreeable.

Only a few, what may described as lanes, were available for skaters, the rest of the lake having a coating of snow, these lanes having been swept through the instruction of Colonel Ferguson.

All the rinks which had been prepared for curlers were not utilised. When it became dark numerous lamps containing inflammable material steeped in naptha were placed at different points on the lake, and these had a most brilliant effect, and enabled the votaries of the 'roaring game' to continue their sport till far into the night. It was intended that the New Year should be 'curled in', and this was done.

Before twelve o'clock a procession of those who had been engaged skating and curling walked towards Pitfour House, in order thank Colonel Ferguson for his uniform kindness in permitting the privilege of access to the lake, and for the lively interest he took in both sports. Mr Francis Ferguson stated that Colonel Ferguson, his father, had retired to rest, but on his behalf expressed his pleasure at seeing them.

On three cheers being called for Mr Ainslie, factor, Mr Ainslie said he hoped they would have another such event next year.

On the stroke of twelve o'clock great cheering and hand shaking was engaged in, and the company sang 'Auld Lang Syne'.

A special train left Mintlaw at one o'clock, conveying the visitors to Peterhead and intermediate stations."

This last piece of information just shows how the railway was indispensable to curlers and skaters in Victorian times.

Here is detail from the OS One Inch map of 1876, courtesy of the National Library of Scotland's map website, showing the relationship of The Lake to Pitfour House and the nearby station. The venue was the site of many curling matches and bonspiels in the 1880s, see here. Local curlers even constructed a temporary railway platform nearer the lake for a bonspiel in 1892. For more on such 'temporary platforms' see here.

Happy New Year!


Unknown said...

How do I go about asking you a question on curling history? Some at our club are looking for info on the 1932 Olympics.

Bob Cowan said...

My email address is on the blog's sidebar. This is obvious if you are looking at the blog on a computer, but on a phone you need to hit on 'web version'. is how to contact me.