Thursday, June 04, 2020

A Successful Season for Wanlockhead curlers

I have this old postcard in my collection. It has not been sent through the post, but was in the past stuck in someone's album. In pencil, written on the back is 'Wanlockhead Curling Club from Miss Flo Mitchell, Thornhill'. I recognised two of the trophies, and thought I would try to identify those in the photograph.

Scanning the photograph, and cleaning it up, the Wanlockhead curlers can be seen clearly. The trophy in the centre is the Grand Match Challenge Trophy, and one on the left is the Waterlow Cup, and that on the right is the Fraser Cup (a Wanlock Curling Club trophy). Note too the curling stones and broom hidden in the grass.

The information I needed was easy to find, as the photograph had been reproduced in the Royal Caledonian Curling Club Annual for 1912-13. The curlers' names, according to the Annual, are:

Back row: Robert Jamieson, J Hoatson, William McMillan, T Gilchrist

Middle: William Laidlaw, Hugh Nicol, W Jamieson, William Stevenson (Secretary), William Mitchell, R Nicol

Front: Alex Brown, John Wilson, John Kerr (Vice President), J Edmond (President), W Kerr

Here is the membership of the Wanlock Curling Club as at September 16, 1912. All the names accompanying the photograph are members of the club, except 'J Hoatson'. The Wanlockhead Curling Society is amongst the oldest curling clubs in the country, with minutes dating back to 1777. The club did not join the Royal Caledonian Curling Club until 1905, and then with a slightly different name, the 'Wanlock Curling Club'. This was after the railway reached the village - in 1902 - which made it easier for curlers to travel to national competitions, such as the Grand Match.

The Wanlock curlers had been successful at the Grand Match at Carsebreck, on February 2, 1912. The club had won the Challenge Trophy, being the Club on the winning side having the highest average majority. They had entered two rinks, and been drawn against two rinks from the St Fillans CC. The Wanlock team skipped by John Kerr beat Duncan McIntyre's side 25-6, and that skipped by J Y Wilson beat Donald Sharp 26-5, average majority 20.

Four Badges were also awarded to the Wanlock Club Rink (J Y Wilson, skip), which had the highest majority of shots (23).

The Wanlock rinks' success helped the South to victory over the North, by 3477 shots to 3038.

The report in the Annual for 1912-13 says, "In the opinion of those who have had long experience of curling there has never been a finer match on Carsebreck. The sheet of ice was magnificent, smooth, black, and thick, and held splendidly throughout the day. A bracing north-east wind prevailed, and overhead the sky was a vast expanse of blue with never a cloud to fleck it, and although the sun shone brilliantly the ice remained keen."

Just four days after the Grand Match, on Tuesday, February 6, the Wanlock curlers were in action again, this time on the Castle Loch, Lochmaben, winning the Waterlow Cup, a competition just for the curling clubs of Dumfriesshire. It had been five years since the previous competition, and 114 rinks (456 players), representing thirty clubs, took part.

A report in the Newcastle Daily Chronicle recorded, "Play commenced at 11 o'clock, and concluded at 3 pm, the result of the contest being announced by Provost Halliday, Lochmaben."

Wanlock were the winners of the Cup, with the highest average shots per rink. Sanquhar was second, and Hoddam, third.

"Miss Yorstoun, East Tinwald, presented the trophy to the most successful rink of the Wanlockhead Club, the members of which were J Wilson (skip), W Wilson, James Gass and A Brown, who gained 42 shots over an Annan rink, skipped by T Gray."

Three of these Wanlockhead curlers are listed in the Annual, and in the photograph, but the third player 'W Wilson' is not.

Tuesday, February 6, 1912, was a busy day for curling. The Scotland v England match was held on Craigielands Loch on that date.

The other trophy in the photograph is identified in the Annual as the Fraser Cup. This was for club competition. Had it not been for the current lockdown, I might well have been heading for the Museum of Lead Mining in Wanlockhead to see if the minutes of the Wanlock Club contain information about that club competition. Above is a photo of the Miners' Library at the museum, where the curling minutes are kept. The museum is currently closed, of course. But do plan to visit in the future.

An interesting challenge I now face is to find out what the role of the curlers named in the photograph was in the life and work of Wanlockhead. And of course I have to search for the mysterious 'J Hoatson' who appears in the photograph, and the 'W Wilson' in the newspaper report, neither of whom seem to have been accredited club members!

One name is already familiar to me, that of John Redmond, the Club's President, about whom I've written, see here, in connection with the school curling club!

On the evening of Friday, March 15, 1912, an 'enthusiastic social meeting' was held in Wanlockhead to 'round off the winter's play and successes in a social meeting and dance'. The company numbered about one hundred and thirty. After the presentation of prizes, Mrs Edmonds, the President's wife, sang 'Wanlock's Curlers':

We sent oor team off tae the curlin',
To Carsebreck to join in the play;
The South - their side - won, they enjoyed the fun.
And we 're happy tae meet them to-day.

Then a cheer for oor staunch Wanlock curlers,
And lang may they join in the play,
Lose or win, all the same, may they aye 'play the game',
And 'oppose' men who act the same way.

A' conditions were set fair for curlin'.
Baith rinks strove for victory like men.
At the finish they stood 40 shots to the good,
So the trophy comes hame tae oor glen.


Wi' a right hearty welcome we greet you,
We've some right tae be prood o' your game,
Let the men o' the North bring their 'Saint's arm' forth,
Strength and skill we can match wi' that same.


Oor auld mither at Wanlock's nae chicken,
For her sons a lang century ago
Took the hill weel arrayed, wi' their stane in their plaid,
To help friend or quaten a foe.


To the memory o' Wanlock's past curlers,
To the present ones - equal in fame,
And, true to the breed, may their sons who succeed
Strive as nobly to 'lead' in 'the game'.


The photo of the miners' library was taken by me. The membership list of the Wanlock CC comes from the Annual of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club for 1912-13.


Unknown said...

Hi is there a way I could contact you, I would really appreciate it as my neighbour passed away sadly. I have all her curling trophies memerobilia, some going back to the 30's.
Kindest regards

Bob Cowan said...

Hi Jonathan

My email address is: