Towards the end of 1944 it appeared that the war in Europe was going well and the management at the Falkirk Ice Rink were looking to the future. After much discussion, in the first week of December, the Falkirk Herald carried a promotional news story:
“Arrangements have been made to hold the British Open Curling Championship at the Falkirk Ice Rink in the week commencing 5th February, 1945. It is anticipated that entries will be received from all over Great Britain. Most of the leading British players have already played over the Falkirk Ice and have congratulated the management on its quality. It is a fitting reward for all the work which has been done to obtain this standard, that the British championship is to be staged on the Falkirk Rink. Mr Festus Moffat, who is acting as secretary of the tournament, informs us that the championship trophy is open for competition to any four curlers. The winners, in addition to retaining the trophy for a year, are made the recipients of individual prizes, and the runners-up also receive individual prizes. During the championship week, a curlers’ dinner is to be held on the Tuesday, and an ice hockey match is being staged for the Wednesday, and on Thursday a dance, which will consist largely of old-fashioned dances, with Harold M’Ardle and William Hannah and his band, will help to make the championship week of greater interest.”
The Falkirk Ice Rink management said that they were keen to promote the ancient game of curling which they saw as a national cultural asset and adopted the motto “The Game for the sake of the Game.” The British Championship Trophy was a 15ins diameter solid silver bowl of Queen Anne design with a fluted body on an ebony plinth. During the week before the competition it was displayed in the window of W B Callander, jeweller, 130 High Street, Falkirk. To emphasise the importance of the occasion it was arranged that the Secretary of State for Scotland, the Right Hon, Thomas Johnston, PC, MP, would present the trophy and that the event would be recorded for broadcasting.
|DATE||WINNING SKIP||RUNNER UP||No. of |
|Feb 1945||William Scobie, Corstorphine||J Wardlaw, Laurieston||70|
|Feb 1946||R B Dick, Braidwood||A A Mayes, Falkirk||98|
|Feb 1947||D S Rutherford, Biggar||J Scott, Falkirk||102|
|Feb 1948||J Robertson, Crossmyloof (Glasgow)||William Smith, Mauchline||96|
|Feb 1949||J Sellar, Merchiston||William Scobbie, Corstorphine||96|
|Feb 1950||William Young, Airth||W Robertson, Little Denny||102|
|Feb 1951||William Young, Airth||George Lindsay, Kilmarnock||102|
|Feb 1952||James Sanderson, Oxenfoord||108|
|Feb 1953||William Young, Airth||T Timmons, Ballingry||108|
|Feb 1954||John Robertson, Glasgow||William Young, Airth||96|
|Feb 1955||J Sellar, Merchiston (wife)||K Melville, Glendoick||96|
|Feb 1959||George Lindsay. Waterside||96|
|Feb 1960||David Kinnaird, Kinglassie||Bonnybridge||98|
|Feb 1962||WW McIntosh, Gask|
|Feb 1963||George Haggart, Crieff||96|
|Feb 1964||Chuck Hay, Perth|
|Feb 1965||George Haggart, Monzie & Cultoquhey|
It is not surprising given the nature of the game and the venue of the championship that the majority of the curling teams were from Scotland. The Canadian representation increased over the years and in the early 1960s there was even a team from Wigan! Those from Central Scotland dominated. The establishment of the Falkirk Ice Rink had done much to promote the game in the locality and the local teams did remarkably well. In 1950 there was an all Falkirk final when Willie Young skipped a team from Airth against that of W Robertson of Little Denny. Young triumphed on three separate occasions.
Indoor curling had advanced the playing of the game by women and in 1949 a ladies’ rink caused a surprise by beating the 1946 winners in an opening round. They were eliminated by a Canadian team in the following match. It was 1955 before the first woman had her name on the trophy. That year James Sellar was the winning skip and his wife, Rena, was the lead on his team.
|DATE||WINNING SKIP||RUNNER UP||No. of |
|March 1955||J McGregor,Strathaven||Park, Larbert|
|March 1962||Nicol, Thornton|
In 1950 the Ladies British Open Championship was inaugurated at the Falkirk Rink and took place there annually at the end of the usual curling season in mid-March. It was unique in that the Muirhead Bellsdye trophy was played in the same week for those not successful in the first round.
When the Falkirk Ice Rink closed to ice sports in 1977 the British Open Championship was transferred to Stirling.
G.B. Bailey, 2022
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