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History

Update on East Linton Club history
The first President of East Linton Curling Club was Sir David Baird, the second Baronet of Newbyth.  His wife, Lady Anne Kennedy, was the eldest daughter of the Marquis of Ailsa and is recorded as the Patroness in 1839.  Very little information is given about Sir David in the club records.  Fortunately the Rev John Kerr has a number of references to Sir David in The Golf Book of East Lothian as a man of ability, a founder member and first Captain of North Berwick Golf Club in 1832.  In his book on the History of Curling, Kerr also noted that Sir David attended a meeting of delegates from instituted clubs to discuss the setting up of a Grand Caledonian Curling Club in 1838.  Although John Kerr would not have met Sir David, he suggests he could have helped organise events after this meeting but others took up the challenge.  He was however elected the third President of the Grand Caledonian Curling Club for 1840/41, something that is not mentioned in the club archives.
A recent visit to the British Golf Museum at St Andrews had a display board that disclosed Sir David had won five gold medals at North Berwick Golf Club and two from the Royal and Ancient Club.  But it was on stairway at Balbirnie House Hotel that I spotted a reprint of this painting on the wall. It is “The Golfers” by Charles Lees RSA and was based on a golf match of 1844 at St Andrews with Sir David being the main subject and surrounded by a group of important golfers of the day.  The original is in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.
Another painting of Sir David by Sir Frances Grant PRA was included in Kerr’s Golf Book.  Attempts to trace it had been unsuccessful.  Kerr also referred to Sir David and a Charles Robertson as “two amphibious heroes who loving the gutty well and were splendid curlers”.  Charles Robertson is identified on the key to the Lees painting standing at the rear of the spectators.  Fuller information on him has yet to be located.
Sir David was an early casualty at the Battle of Waterloo when a musket shot entered his lower jaw and lodged in his neck. It was eventually removed. He died at the age of fifty seven after being injured when he was repeatedly kicked by a horse after he dismounted to clear an obstruction.  His obituary in The Scotsman of 8th January 1852 tells us that whatever he took in hand, he steadily pursued until he acquired the complete mastery of it.
David Affleck
5 April 2013
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The Sir Richard Waldie Griffith Competition
Extract of Haddingtonshire Courier article of 28th April. 1911
The competition among the Provinces of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club for the silver challenge trophy, presented by Sir Richard Waldie Griffith, Bart. of Hendersyde Park Kelso was brought to a close on the Scottish Ice Rink at Crossmyloof, Glasgow on Saturday night. The object of the donor is to encourage play in the provinces and this aim has been fully realised, 17 provinces, represented by 1248 curlers having taken part in the bonspiel. On the scores being made up at the close, it was found that the trophy had been won by East Lothian with an average gain of 6 5/11 shots per rink.
Mr Thomas Taylor of Chipchase Castle, Northumberland, the president of the English Province and brother in law of Sir Richard, offered four gold badges to the highest up rink in the winning province, and these went to the rink skipped by J.K. Smith, Johnstounburn, who defeated his opponent, R. Menzies of Weem, by 31 shots to 11.
The report goes on to identify the results between East Lothian and Stirlingshire. The East Lothian clubs were East Linton skipped by A Buchan Hepburn 21-7, Yester skipped by D Murray 16-15, Dirleton skipped by James Simpson, 21-12, Johnstounburn skipped by T N Johnston 18 (?) -16.
Haddington club was not represented, their opponents, Borestone having wired them off on the previous evening. The average of the other eleven county rinks was taken to represent the absent Haddington players.
(Note the Johnstounburn score is not easily legible.)
There is a follow up article for the 7th July 1911 which refers to the presentation of the cup and the prizes by Mr Thomas Taylor of Chipchase, Newcastle upon Tyne.  It says the cup was received on behalf of the East Lothian Province by Mr R Grant Suttie of Balgone.  Mr J K Smith replied for the winning rink, all of whom were present. East Lothian Province was represented in addition to the names given, by Mr E Yule, Balgone, chairman of the committee, Mr J Robertson, British Linen Bank, Haddington, secretary; Mr P Fyshe, Newtonlee; Rev John Kerr, Dirleton; Mr P Wilson, Rhodes; Mr Pate, Mavishall; and Mr Stoddart, Bughtnowe. The cup which is extremely handsome, is in the possession of Mr J Robertson, and will be exhibited in the shop of Mr J Gilchrist, High Street.
Extracted and edited by David Affleck
3 April 2012
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THE DARK AGES OF EAST LOTHIAN CURLING HERITAGE
Like the standing stone heritage and the gaps in our knowledge of the people of that era, the main evidence of curling activity before 1800 to date is the existence of curling stones with known East Lothian connections. The recent gift of an early stone found in Lawhead pond on Tyninghame estate has triggered a review of other early known stones associated with locations such as Dunglass, Smeaton (dated 1698), Broxmouth and Balgone. This topic is currently under review with John Burnett of the National Museum of Scotland and Sheriff David Smith, the noted curling historian. The existence of the stones validate that curling in some form was active in parts of East Lothian before 1800. Identification of who some of the people were through network analysis and then through archive research is in progress.
Old stanes
This photograph shows four stones offered to John Shedden our present Province President for his use in an anticipated Grand Match. They come from the Pease Bay area and are linked to the Dunglass and Cockburnspath club first formed in 1831. They are part of a collection of sixteen stones. The heaviest of the four weighs 89 lb., not as much as the Jubilee stone from the same club which weighs 117 lb. and is now held by the RCCC. Today’s rules require no stone should weigh more than 44 lb. and be of a circular shape. So even if our President could get the 89 lb. stone on the ice without damage to the surface, he would be in breach of the rules of the current game. As Robin Welsh observes in his 1985 book “International Guide to Curling”, brain is now the victor over brawn”.
David Affleck 6-02-12.
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