The introduction to the 1938 prospectus for the Falkirk Ice Rink Ltd begins:
“Curling and skating have been always popular in Scotland, but it is not possible for enthusiasts to have the use of natural ice in the open air for any appreciable time. Within recent years, however, indoor facilities have been made available. Ice rinks have been constructed which have taken advantage of extensively… There is an increasing demand for recreational facilities, and curling and skating provide amusement and exercise for people of all ages.”
At a speech delivered by Festus Moffat in March 1939 he pointed out that almost 90% of the people who had subscribed to the Falkirk Ice Rink were curlers or skaters whose primary object had been to provide a sports facility so that they could play and had not done so not for financial gain. The convenience of a more or less permanent floor of ice is hard to stress and did much to promote women’s curling.
A curling club was also formed in October 1938, named the Randyford Club after the surrounding area. It and other local clubs were invited to play in a new tournament at the Falkirk Ice Rink on the first week of opening. A suitable trophy was donated by the company named the “Directors’ Trophy.” The open tournament attracted 48 entries and was the prelude to grander events in years to come. The second week of opening saw the Falkirk Curling Club members playing for the Nimmo Medal.
Even the convenience of having the ice rink on its doorstep was not enough to sustain the Randyford Curling Club and so in April 1939 it was disbanded and another one formed at the ice rink with a wider geographic range of membership to be called the Falkirk Ice Rink Curling Club. December 1939 saw the introduction of a separate trophy for the ladies but it was only after the war that the Falkirk Ice Rink (Ladies) Curling Club was re-formed in October 1946. Despite the war many curling matches were staged at the Falkirk Ice Rink. The curling season had always been constrained by the natural weather patterns and even in the indoor venue all of the activities associated with it took place between September and the end of April. The ice was therefore dispensed with for the summer season in late April 1940 and the rinks gave way to one of Britain’s largest dance floors.
They were reintroduced on 21 September 1940 but the experience over the summer months had taught the management the value of the site as a dance venue. For the coming winter season part of the extensive ice pad was retained as a dance floor. Curling was reserved to Tuesdays and Thursdays. Wartime travel restrictions meant that curling competitions had to be focused on the locality. Even so no fewer than 240 curlers from all over Stirlingshire, comprising 60 rinks, took part in one held in April 1943. It resulted in a handsome donation to the funds of the local Red Cross. Even more turned out for the Victory Curling Bonspiel held in October 1945. The winners on that occasion were a team from Corstorphine skipped by William Scobie which had recently won the British championship (for which see below).
In March 1947 the Royal Caledonian Curling Club National Rink Tournament was held at the Falkirk Ice Rink as a mark of appreciation of the services rendered to curling during the war years by the directors of the Falkirk Ice Rink. A total of 237 rinks competed and William Scobie was again the winner.
The links with the Royal Caledonian continued for many years and in 1964 it held its annual general meeting there, attended by 1,600 curlers and members of the press. On that occasion the Duke of Edinburgh presented the prizes for the men and Winnie Ewing for the women.
G.B. Bailey, 2022
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