One of the most remarkable - and least publicised - 'by-products' of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this summer was the publication by Historic Scotland of the book, Scotland's Sporting Buildings, by Nick Haynes.
The purpose of the book is 'to celebrate the divers range and outstanding quality of historic purpose-built sporting architecture that exists across the country'.
The book is not long at 108 pages, but it is crammed full of illustrations in colour and black and white. Its format is a general introduction on Scotland's sporting history followed by shorter sections on each of a list of sporting activities beginning with archery and ending with tennis, racquets, and squash.
The place of Scotland's two 'national games', golf and curling, is emphasised in the introduction, and each has its own chapter following.
The emphasis is on the buildings which accompanied each sport. Naturally there is more continuous history of, say, golf and bowling clubhouses, than there is of curling houses because the former sports have maintained their buildings whereas curling has more or less departed from its ancient outdoor ponds and rinks and become an indoor sport played in ice rinks.
There is an early, nineteenth century photograph of the making of curling stones by hand in Kay's factory at Mauchline, and a wonderful picture of The Royal Patent Gymnasium at Canonmills, Edinburgh. This little known sporting structure was designed for 'the promotion of healthful and exhilarating exercise' and among its many machines and contraptions, contained a vast 'rotary boat' 471 feet in diameter, seated for 600 rowers. I mention the gymnasium for it also included a curling rink, very close to the site of the pond on which David Allan painted the curlers at the end of the eighteenth century in the water colour painting belonging to the Royal Club.
From the curler's point of view perhaps of most interest are the colour photographs of the curling houses of Abdie CC, Aberlady CC at Gosford, Banchory CC, Easter Balmoral CC (the Queen's), and Partick CC, all of them listed by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, and therefore likely to remain as icons of the earlier days of curling's history.
We are very grateful for Nick Haynes's permission to reproduce the photographs which follow.
The interior of the Abdie Curling Club House, Lindores Loch, Fife.
The book may be purchased online, see here, and at all good booksellers.
The images of the curling houses are © Nick Haynes