History

The story of Duns Curling is, like the origins of the game itself, lost in the mists of time and we are dependent on hearsay, legend and sporadic references for our knowledge of its history. Statements by John B. Kellie ( perhaps the clubs most notable member) at the Centenary testify that "a gentleman I knew well, the late James Watson, was admitted a member in 1807 and confirms the clubs activities from 1800". Reference is also made in The History of Curling to its existence in 1801. It probably started without formal constitution, office bearers or minutes, but adopted written constitution and rules in 1807, in which year was published the name of its first patron, Sir H.H. Campbell of Marchmont. In 1856 Duns Curling Club joined the Royal Caledonian Curling Club.

Thanks to the excellent accounts in the records of the Centenary, we can read about and discover the flavour of curling in Duns during its first hundred years and we are fortunate enough to have access to the 20th century minutes to briefly examine the second hundred years.

From the late 19th. into the early 20th. century there are interesting references to activities not perhaps generally well known to Curlers of this era. Notably a Silver Kettle competition at the Loch at Manderston, an international, Scotland versus England on Talkin Tarn near Carlisle (Scotland won with the help of one Duns Rink) and reference to the Ladies of Duns taking to the ice to play 13 ends in the morning and 13 in the afternoon. Apparently they "sooped like demons - beg pardon - like Angels".

1879 saw the commencement of the Kettle competition when Edward Marjoribanks, Lord Tweedmouth, of Duns Castle, presented a Silver Kettle to the club for competition among curlers in the Berwickshire District. Because the game was played outdoors and subject to the vicissitudes of "that autocratic individual Jack Frost" there are many gaps in the records of the Kettle, but nevertheless, it grew and prospered and is with us still.

In 1892 there began a long period of patronage by the family Hay of Duns Castle with the appointment of William James Hay. This connection has been maintained by successive members of the family, men and women, throughout the past century and is an integral history of Duns Curling Club.

In 1897 the weight of the stones was reduced to 44lbs (approx. 20 Kg). It appears from old magazine articles that at one time they weighed as much as 200lbs (approx. 90Kg) and had names such as "Rob Roy".

In 1921 it was decided that if outside ice was not available by February each year, the competition would be held indoors at Haymarket and this was soon followed by Club ice also being booked in Edinburgh where indoor curling was available. These arrangements were to lead to far greater interest in, and development of the, Roarin' Game in Duns and throughout the Borders and, probably, also led to the foundation in 1964 of the Borders Ice Rink.

Life in general seemed to develop at a startling speed in the 20th century, especially in the period following the Second World War, and curling was no exception. We saw games spread throughout the world and eventually included as a sport in the Winter Olympics. We saw young players coming into the game and we saw the ladies game develop to encompass standards of the highest quality. Duns witnessed and took part in all this. In 1965 we started to play at the Borders Ice rink. Pairs and Points competitions were instituted in 1972 and the introduction of a club jersey in 1977 was closely followed by a club badge in 1978. Our ladies section has grown in its influence and now represents a large percentage of the Club as a whole. The first Lady President, Louise Seed, was elected in 1995.

In October 2000 the Club held a dinner dance at the volunteer hall in Duns to celebrate our Bi-centenary. The event was attended by club members, guests from other Borders clubs, and representatives of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club. On the evening, in commemoration of the Bi-centenary, the club was presented with a plaque by Ainslie Smith, President of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club. The menu for the dinner was prepared in the form of a souvenir brochure which included the brief history outlined above. I would like to take this space to record my appreciation to the late John Isaac for his comprehensive research of club records and other documented evidence which has made this page possible.

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