Pan Ross Social

Curling

Page 9 

LEDGOWAN CURLING CLUB

Ledgowan Curling Club is the furthest west outpost of the Ross-shire Province and takes its name from the Ledgowan Hotel at Achnasheen, whose proprietor, Graham Millard, instituted the club in 1973, the same year that they joined the Royal Caledonian Curling Club. The club is very much a family affair with his wife, son and daughter-in-law as team members. Graham is a passionate supporter of Ross County Football Club, as is his son, so they have been more than pleased by developments at Scottish League level. Graham also speaks with a very strong English accent, but his heart is certainly Scottish. The Ledgowan club are currently in the semi-finals of the President's Cup so they are enjoying a successful season - well done.

MUIR OF ORD

1904

Patron - Major Mackenzie of Ord
Patroness - Mrs Mackenzie of Ord

President - K A Maclean
Vice-Presidents - Wm. Tuach, Wm. Mackintosh (B)
Representative Members - Don. Fraser, Alex Robertson
Secretary - William Forbes
Treasurer - Alex Robertson
Committee or Council of Management -
Wm. Christie, Donald Fraser, Don. McLeod
Ordinary Members (Regular) -
Donald Fraser, K A Maclean, William Forbes, Wm. Maclennan, Colin Robertson, Wm. Mackintosh (A), Alex Robertson, Wm. Mackintosh (B), Alex Gordon, James Fraser, C S. Spence, Wm. Tuach, Wm. Ross, Alex McKenzie, Alex Lennox, Wm. Christie, Dun. Cameron, Alex Mackintosh, Capt. McKenzie-Gillanders, Angus Tuach, John Tuach, Don. McLeod, Rodk. Tuach
Ordinary Members (Occasional) -
James Taylor, John Cameron, Major McKenzie, Robert Sinclair, John Campbell, Alex Fraser, Wm. Murray, Donald Macivor, Malcolm Macaulay

2004

President - Moira MacDonald

Representative Members - Moira MacDonald, J McKie
Secretary and Treasurer - J McKie
Ice Rink - Inverness
Honorary Member - A Butter
Ordinary Members -
Mrs C Dickie, A Hoare, Mrs B Hoare, Mrs F Inglis, T Inglis, Mrs A Leiper, D Lyall, G Macdonald, Mrs M Macdonald, F Mackenzie, G Maclennan, R Maclennan, J McKie, R McWilliam, Mrs I Meldrum, S Rose, A Rosie, R Urquhart

A number of clubs in the County have already celebrated their own centenary - Fairburn, Strathpeffer, Belmaduthy and Muir of Ord.

The latter became affiliated to the Royal Caledonian Club in 1892 and the club representative at the historic, inaugural meeting of "the Ross-shire County Curlers Association" on 22 November 1893 was Hugh R Adam. Their first official match as part of the new Province was when drawn against Ferindonald in the first inter-club competition. This match did not take place due to lack of suitable ice - a very common occurrence in those days of exclusively outside ice.

The first Provincial bonspiel, for a trophy donated by J D Fletcher of Rosehaugh, was played at Muir of Ord on 12 January 1895, including for the first time rinks from Cromarty and Avoch.

Muir of Ord rinks were drawn against Rosehaugh, Belmaduthy and Fairburn, finishing with an average pointage of minus one on the three games played. The winner of the event was Belmaduthy. The scoring system, based on average shots of all rinks of a particular club taking part in the competition, was considered disadvantageous by clubs entering a large number of rinks. In the future a maximum of four rinks per club was permitted.

Muir of Ord was the favoured site for Provincial and Northern Counties curling in these early years, probably on Loch-an-Dohan. Considerable difficulty was experienced over the years with a sluice, operated to retain sufficient water in the loch over the winter period, requiring regular repair by members, and also financial support from the Province. Eventually, agreement was reached with the local farmer to flood the lochan between 1 December and 28 February for the princely annual rental of ten pounds.

The club constructed an outside curling pond in 1957, the only one presently in use in Ross Province. The driving force behind the scheme was the club president at that time, David Macrae, local police sergeant. The new facility was immediately in demand, and the first matches for the Provincial President's Cup were played there from 1957. The trophy was presented by Alex Mann, Avoch.

The Allan Moore Trophy, presented for Provincial club competition as a league trophy, was first played at the Muir of Ord rink in season 1963-64, and for the first four years of this competition home advantage proved decisive as Muir of Ord dominated.

All club curling is now done indoors for the most part but the outdoor bonspiel is still regarded as "real" curling, when the game is taken back to its roots and all the old traditions are revived. Weather conditions are of course critical and the succession of mild winters in recent years has limited the scope of outdoor events. The last outdoor Provincial bonspiel in Ross-shire was held at Locheye in 1979, and the event was won by Muir of Ord, in the same year, incidentally, as the last Grand Match.

The Muir of Ord club has contributed a great deal to curling in Ross-shire. It has a small but dedicated membership. Anyone living in the local community is welcome to participate.
____________________

From the Annual of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club for 1902-03:

THE COURT AT MUIR OF ORD
Air - "When the Bloom is on the Rye"

The winter nights were growing short
And ushering in the spring,
When Ross-shire curlers met in Court
To play and sport and sing.
The gathering place agreed by all,
Was good old Muir of Ord;
From all the airts keen curlers came,
And Dewar (1) was 'My Lord'.

Then hooray, my lads, for county of Ross!
With them let me live and die,
Among the ponds of crystal ice
When the frost is in the sky.

There were Tuachs, Chalmers, old and young,
One of the 'Starry' Rosses;
MacLennan, Robertson, Macgrath,
Two William Mackintoshes.
Macdonalds and Mackenzies and
Macraes were quite a crowd;
A Birnie, Gordon, Taylor, Leach -
All guests of 'The Macleod' (2).

Then hooray ......

Five-and-twenty curlers keen
That famous night discovered
The chains and bands of curling when
To curling they were brothered.
Five-and-twenty, brave and bold,
Each one put through his paces,
Were all presented to 'My Lord'
With 'ensigns' on their faces.

Then hooray, my lads, for a Curling Court!
With them let me live and die,
Among the ponds of crystal ice
When the frost is in the sky.

'My Lord' reigned absolute all night long,
The curlers early so found,
As each one struggled to avoid
The costly personal pronoun.
Young Walter (3) of the many names
Much laughter soon begat
By trying, within the laws of Court,
To toast 'My Lord's' old hat.

Oh, leave that hat with the curlers of Ross!
With them let it live and die,
Among the ponds of crystal ice
When the frost is in the sky.

Macleay (4) got leave to rise and tried
To praise the Muir of Ord.
It cost him tenpence: he was stopped
By order of 'My Lord'.
Then Cameron's (5) sentiment evoked
A cheer of three times three,
That sweethearts should be turned to wives,
And wives aye sweethearts be.

Then hooray for the girls of the county of Ross!
With them let it live and die,
Among the ponds of crystal ice
When the frost is in the sky.

To jinks the fines Macaulay (6) spoke
(And Peter sang) in Gaelic;
Dumbfounded stood the officer
While we enjoyed the frolic.
'My Lord' translated what was said,
But Naughty (7) still stood puzzled;
We never saw a curler in
A state so clean bamboozled.

Then hooray for the Gael of the county of Ross!
With them let it live and die,
Among the ponds of crystal ice
When the frost is in the sky.

At last came, with deep regret,
The selling of the stoup,
As an auction on the market stance
Was the bidding at that roup.
And so the fun went rolling on,
We all declared it fine.
I must not tell when the curtain fell
By the singing of 'Auld Lang Syne'.

Then hooray for the fun of a Curling Court!
With them let it live and die,
Among the ponds of crystal ice,
That Godsend which money cannot buy.

Curliana

From The North Star of January 1902.

(1) Mr A Dewar, town clerk, Dingwall
(2) Mr D Macleod, proprietor of Tarradale Hotel
(3) Mr W R T Middleton, solicitor, Dingwall
(4) Ex-Provost Macleay, Dingwall
(5) Mr D Cameron, merchant, Muir of Ord
(6) Mr Macaulay, chief constable of Ross and Cromarty
(7) Mr A Naughty, JP, Dingwall
____________________

MUIR OF ORD CURLING CLUB CENTENARY 1892 - 1992

INTRODUCTION

These notes have been prepared as a historical record of the Club which should prove of interest to past and present members. Their preparation is one of several events organised to celebrate the centenary of the Club's affiliation to the Royal Caledonian Curling Club in 1892. Three main sources of information were identified for the research. Unfortunately the Club's own minutes are restricted to the period 1934-1939 and from 1946 to the present day. However, Ross Province's minutes are available for two earlier periods from 1893 to 1897 and from 1905 to 1906. The Club has also kept a complete record of all outdoor curling matches on their artificial rink situated behind the Tarradale Hotel. The rink is illustrated in figures 1 and 2.





The notes have been enhanced considerably by these excellent cartoons prepared by Daniel McAteer, a current member of the club.

The following is a list of the club presidents over the period of some 58 years covered by the minutes:

1934-36 John Fraser
1936-38 Angus Tuach
1938-39 Collinson Hall Robertson
1939-40 William Burns
Gap in Minutes during World War II
1946-47  J M Gammie
1947-48 Murdoch Mackenzie
1948-49 G Urquhart
1949-58 David Macrae
1958-62 Ian Mackay
1962-64 Ken Chisholm
1964-67 Walter Malcolm
1967-69 A J Fraser
1969-71 H G Munro
1971-73 A Mackay
1973-75 A MacEwan
1975-77 John Webster
1977-79 Alistair Butter
1979-80 John Webster
1980-82 Dennis Noble
1982-84 Bob Hamilton
1984-86 Tom Stewart
1986-88 Gordon Macdonald
1988-90 Tom Inglis
1990-92 Ross Urquhart
1992-present Albert Hoare

This record will be updated as soon as possible by reference to the RCCC Annuals but on the basis of the records to date the longest serving president was David Macrae, the local police sergeant, who served for nine years between 1949 and 1958 during which time the idea of an artificial rink was first conceived and finally executed. He was a member of the Club from 1939 until his death in 1959. Members of the Club have been eternally in his debt for his leadership of a dedicated group of members who worked relentlessly to complete the construction of the outdoor rink. It remains the only active outdoor curling venue in the Province. Figure 3 shows work underway on the artificial rink. [Fig. 3 not capable of reproduction.] Other outstanding service by office bearers over the same period includes the following:

Treasurer -  J Fraser 1934-52 -  18 years
Secretary -  J McGruer 1953-62 - 9 years
Treasurer -  K Lines 1971-93 - 22 years
Treasurer - W Barclay 1955-71 - 16 years
Secretary -  W Malcolm 1967-79 - 12 years
Secretary -  J McKie 1983-93 - 10 years

PROVINCE RECORDS

In November 1893 the Club was represented at a meeting convened by the Caberfeidh Curling Club in the National Hotel, Dingwall, which established the Ross-shire County Curlers Association for the clubs in the county associated with the RCCC. This was to be renamed the Ross and Cromarty Curling Province three years later. In the initial draw for the Association's annual competition the Club drew Ferindonald, a club no longer active in the Province, but the game was never played due to the lack of suitable ice. By 1894 the Association had agreed to play its annual competition as a one-day Bonspiel at Muir of Ord for a trophy presented by Mr Fletcher of Rosehaugh. Thirty-eight teams were entered in the draw on 12 January 1895 where Muir of Ord's opponents were Fairburn and Belmaduthy.

The following year the Province appointed a committee to meet a representative of Dochfour Estate with a view to acquiring land for curling at the Tarradale Hotel, Muir of Ord. At the same time the RCCC suggested that future Northern Counties Provincial Association Bonspiels be held at Muir of Ord. It is evident that Muir of Ord was favoured in those early years for much of the county's curling activity. It could be claimed that the topography of the site was ideal for providing suitable conditions for curling, but figure 4 suggestes that there may have been alternative motives.



By the time the minutes recommence in 1949, Loch-an-Dohan, Muir of Ord, had become the regular venue for the Province Annual Bonspiel. Considerable difficulty was experienced over the years with a sluice operated to retain sufficient water in the loch over the winter period. It required regular repair by Muir of Ord members, often with financial support from their sister clubs in the Province. Eventually agreement was reached with the local farmer to flood the lochan between 1 December and 28 February in exchange for an annual rental of £10. On completion of the Club's artificial rink in 1957 the Club agreed to its use by the Province for a new knockout competition for the President's Cup presented by A Mann, Avoch. The club was to receive 5/- per player per tie for the use of the facilities. During the '60s Muir of Ord Curling Pavilion was also the venue for the Province AGMs. The Province league was first played on the Muir of Ord rink during the winter of 1963-64 when the trophy now played for in the present "A" league was donated by Allan Moore. Muir of Ord was the proud winner of the league for the first four successive years of its existence on their home ground which unfortunately does not feature on the Province trophy board in the Inverness Ice Centre where all league games were played after 1969. The Club also won the last Province outdoor Bonspiel on Loch Eye in 1979, the year of the last Grand Match which was held at the Lake of Menteith. Unfortunately the availability of indoor ice has greatly reduced the frequency of use of the Club's own outdoor rink. This is illustrated in figure 5 [not available] which shows the number of outdoor curling sessions on the artificial rink between 1963 and 1992. Whereas previously 20 to 40 sessions per season could be expected, it is now rare to play more than five sessions of outdoor curling over any winter. However, it is encouraging to see the increase in outdoor games since 1984 following the very poor numbers in the early '80s.

The members of the Muir of Ord Curling Club have always played an active part in the administration of the Province as well as the Club providing an ideal venue for competitions over the years. As already stated, the Club was present at the inaugural meeting of the Province. In 1905 William Forbes was elected secretary/treasurer. He was a well-known shopkeeper whose family still run a grocer/bakery business in the village. In 1949 H G Munro of Muir of Ord Curling Club was elected secretary/treasurer and was to remain in that post for at least 20 years. His widow still lives on Balvaird Road, Muir of Ord. To this day the Club is still represented on the Province Committee by their secretary, Jim McKie.

CLUB RECORDS

The Club's close association with the Tarradale Hotel led to its annual general meeting being held there from at least 1934 until 1961 when their pavilion became available. Many of these meetings would undoubtedly have been occasions to remember.

As early as 1934 there is reference in the minutes to lighting and a curlers' hut on the banks of Loch-an-Dohan where both Club and Province curling matches took place. From 1958 matches were played on the artificial rink constructed at the rear of the Tarradale Hotel and although since 1968-69 all Province competitions have been played indoors at the Inverness Ice Centre the Club still manages to play a few intermittent outdoor matches for their own trophies.

Over the years these facilities have been expensive to maintain for a club with a membership which has varied from only 15 to 30 members. Insurance of premises is referred to as far back as 1948 when the hut was insured for £200 and its contents £100 and of course the capital and running costs of the artificial rink have been considerable.

The pattern of increase of the membership subscription over the years is shown in figure 6 [not available] but this fell far short of meeting the costs of the artificial rink. To meet the additional costs the Club established a highly successful entertainments committee in 1952. In addition to raising the necessary funds they gained a reputation for providing much of the social entertainment in the village at that time. Their success can be measured by reference to a sale of work in 1957 which accrued a sum of £320, a notable achievement at that time. This was followed by a social evening in the Tarradale Hotel as a reward for those who had participated in the sale. It included one of Joe Mackenzie-Gillanders' well-loved cine film shows which depicted the construction of the new artificial rink. The Club organised regular New Year dances in the village hall during the '50s and '60s along with various dances and barbecues on the curling rink. They also regularly entered a float in the Amenities Association Gala parade of floats. In 1962 their topical theme was Colonel Glenn's space module. These fund-raising events are still an essential part of the life of the Club. Only two years ago a ceilidh in the village hall and a sponsored walk provided much of the funding required for the present centenary events. Over the past 30 years the Club has provided the use of the artificial rink to the Amenities Association for various gala events, the most memorable of which have been the Friday and Saturday open air dances at the closing weekend of their annual gala. The rink was also used in 1975-76 by the Golf Club for their centenary celebrations.

To this day the Club is proud of its reputation for hospitality and is one of the few remaining clubs in the Province where members still meet socially in addition to playing the ancient game. An annual dinner dance regularly attracts between 80 and 100 members and guests from sister clubs. In addition, over the last 12 years members have met for a social gathering in the pavilion at Muir of Ord following the final of their Noble Cup competition. Several of these occasions have continued well into the early hours of the following day.

Today, club members participate in two indoor club competitions. Over the season a knockout competition of teams drawn randomly compete keenly for the Noble Cup, a trophy donated by Mrs W J Noble in 1975-76. In the latter part of each season members also compete in a points competition for the Neil Whittet Memorial Cup, donated by his parents in memory of their son who was a member of the Club. Past winners of the trophies are as follows:

NOBLE CUP (Skip)                                          NEIL WHITTET MEMORIAL CUP
1976-77 A Butter
1977-78 M Harper
1978-79 K Chisholm
1979-80 A Butter
1980-81 R Hamilton
1981-82 A Butter                                                D Mackenzie
1982-83 A Paul                                                  R McWilliam
1983-84 A Butter                                                R Urquhart
1984-85 F Mackenzie                                       T Inglis
1985-86 R McWilliam                                       R Urquhart
1986-87 G Macdonald                                     Mrs B Hoare
1987-88 A Hoare                                              A Hoare
1988-89 A Hoare                                              J McKie
1989-90 A Butter                                               R Urquhart
1990-91                                                              D Mackenzie
1991-92 A Hoare                                              R Urquhart
1992-93                                                              D Mackenzie

The four Club trophies historically competed for outdoors are still retained for that purpose. Details are as follows:

1. Muir of Ord Rink Cup (known as the Morrison-Mackay Cup). A silver cup of 19.5 oz. troy weight, hallmarked London 1906-07.

2. Points Cup (known as the Highfield Challenge Cup). A silver cup of 14 oz. troy weight, hallmarked Sheffield 1910-11.

3. Skip's Cup (known as the Rink Challenge Cup). A silver cup of 5 oz. troy weight, hallmarked Birmingham 1910-11.

4. Pairs Cup (known as the John Fraser Challenge Cup). A plated base metal cup donated in 1962 in memory of John Fraser, a Treasurer of the Club from at least 1934 to 1952.

In 1956 the Club was also donated medals by John Fraser which had been in his possession since 1916. These are still held by the Club Secretary.

Considerable reference has already been made to the Club's artificial pond which consists of three rinks. The history of its construction and development will be of interest to members. From the Club's inception to the mid 1950s curling took place on the lochans lying between Hawthorn Road and the Black Isle Road. A substantial effort had been put into sluice maintenance and the provision and maintenance of a hut and lighting. Unfortunately, the writer has been unable to uncover any written record of that era but conversations with elderly and not so elderly residents have revealed fond memories of the wonderful scenes on the occasion of curling on the lochans.

The first mention of an artificial rink was in the minute of a meeting of October 1955 when it was raised by a member, K M Leighton.At that same meeting we find the first reference to Walter Malcolm who was to become a long-serving office bearer of the Club. This was followed by a meeting in June 1956 at which a committee comprising David Macrae, John MacGregor and the Rev. Grant were authorised to discuss with the owner, Robert Maclean, the possible purchase of part or whole of the field adjoining the natural curling pond. Three weeks later the committee notified the Club of their success in acquiring the following for a sum of £40:

(a) the existing curling pond with seven yards above high water;
(b) approximately 1.5 acres at the rear of the old stables at the rear of the Tarradale Hotel.

The Club still holds the titles to these parcels of land which were purchased from the trustees of the late Murdoch Maclean, a former proprietor of the Tarradale Hotel, who had been a great benefactor to the Club despite never being a playing member. For a sum of £80 Novar Estates undertook the earthworks in late 1956 to form the hollow in which the pond was constructed by members. Construction by voluntary labour commenced in the summer of 1957 and was completed in time for playing the 1957-58 season. This represented a tremendous enthusiastic effort by the members of the Club. The pond was formally opened by Sir John Stirling, Fairburn Estate.

A proposal in October 1958 to add the hose reel house was followed in October 1959 by a proposal to demolish the old clubhouse, which had been transported from the original pond, and replace it with the present pavilion, and in May 1963 the tender of £188 from William Morrison, Tomich, was accepted for the erection of the fencing around the rink. Prior to the commencement of the next winter, two dozen brushes were bought at a cost of £5 per dozen from the Institute for the Blind, Inverness. The present floodlighting poles were erected in October 1965 at the same time as the pavilion floor was fitted with winyl tiles at a cost of £42. The most recent work undertaken was the replacement of the lighting and wiring on the rink and the pavilion in 1987.

Over the years the Club has developed a reputation for a reluctance to have women members. However, the records show that such a reputation may have been unwarranted other than for perhaps a few specific male members. The earliest Club records in 1934 refer to Mrs Mackenzie-Gillanders and Mrs Mackenzie, Ord, as patrons of the Club. Although this undoubtedly did not identify them as playing members, it equally well did not reflect a completely male-dominated organisation with no place for women. As early as 1959 Miss Peggy Logan is minuted as having attended the Annual General Meeting which was one of the last still to be held in the Tarradale Hotel. A few years later, in 1963, the then President, Ken Chisholm, proposed the formation of a ladies section of the Club with a discounted subscription fee. Today's lady members may have found that unacceptable in view of modern expectations on equality for sexes. Alistair Butter, the longest serving active member of the Club, recalls Mrs Barclay and Ivy Gammie as playing members in the past. The writer also recalls Irene Findlay and Winnie Sutherland as former lady members and today some 30% of the Club members are women.

This warranted or unwarranted reputation for disapproving of female curlers along with their undaunting belief in their prowess on the outdoor rink led the Club to a famous defeat at the hands of the Ross Ladies Club on 1 February 1977. You can imagine the situation with Ross Ladies having beated Muir of Ord during a league game at the Inverness Ice Centre. In the bar during the discussion after the game, Muir of Ord obviously claimed that the ladies would be unable to beat them at their game, the outdoor game, the game for which they had lifted the trophy for the first four Province League competitions. They were to be proved horribly wrong when a rink of Helen Munro, Babs Ross, Liz Barras and Jean MacAllister beat the Muir of Ord rink of Billy Noble, Ackie Campbell, Ken Chisholm and Sandy MacEwan by 11 shots to 10, watched by Dennis Noble, Ron Harper and Walter Malcolm. Although having beaten Muir of Ord, rumour has it that some, if not all, of the ladies had little recollection of the event, having been somewhat overwhelmed by the hospitality provided.

It would not be appropriate to end these notes on a defeat as the Club has seen many successes. However, its greatest success of all must be the countless hours of entertainment, the friendships and relationships it has provided its members with over the years. These are major successes indeed which outweigh the receipt of any trophy and must inevitably be attributed to the members themselves who, over the year, have given the Club its changing image. It only remains to wish the Club every success in the future. Long may it flourish and its future members derive the same pleasures from its existence as members past and present.

Continued in Page 10
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