Continued from Part 3 ….
By the mid 1890’s, Blantyre Curling Club had established itself as one of the foremost clubs in the Province and a force to be reckoned with. Like all competitive clubs, as well as the successes, there were some failures which were accepted. Membership steadily grew and was most competitive both in club competitions and in outside matches. Blantyre’s team soon established a reputation for their friendliness, enthusiasm and curling skill and were held in high esteem.
The first Trophy for Annual Competitions within the club itself was presented in 1896 by Club President, John Craig. The trophy, a cup, had to be competed for in rinks in knock out competition and any rink winning it 3 times, not necessarily in succession to keep it permanently. (The cup was eventually won three times by J Menzies in 1901 after which he got to keep it).
A new site
Unfortunately over the 1890’s, the Curling Pond near Greenhall continually had problems ‘leaking’. Whilst the ice on top froze over, the water below leaked from underneath the pond, making the ice unstable and sometimes uneven. One of the players, David Hastie, offered a solution in 1897. One of the fields on his Stonefield Farm, was clay logged, and retained water well. The field was eventually to become the Stonefield Public Park in later decades. Construction of the new Stonefield Curling Pond was undertaken in 1898 and the area was enclosed by a stout sleeper fence. The new pond was opened for business on 26th January 1899. Considerable work was needed to level the site and a construction cost of £35 was collected by subscription from people throughout the Parish. Monies were collected in by the members themselves, with the shortfall being covered by a bank loan. (The loan was cleared fully a short time later by 1901 by members taking over the liabilities to avoid paying any interest. It would take until 1922 to pay back those members, David Hastie and AB Maxwell being the last two people to receive their investment back).
The pond at Greenhall would continue to also be used for the following decade. (as pictured just after 1900) but by 1910 professional matches were all being played at the ‘better’ site at Stonefield.
In 1903, Mr John Dow, was recognised as the clubs first life member. In 1908, three rinks competed in the R.C.C.C Grand Match and Blantyre won with majority of 48 shots, winning the prestigious trophy for the second time. Credit went to M Campbell Senior, William Adam, Arthur Blackley, James Kelly, John Hastie, AB Maxwell, Peter Hastie, JF MacDonald, John Roberts, James Smith, James B Dow and William Baxter. By this time many of the members were from Low Blantyre, perhaps also due to the readiness of the nearby new Stonefield pond.
On 25th January 1910, that Burns Night was the date chosen for the annual curling match between High Blantyre Curling Club and Stonefield Curling Club took place on the Stonefield Pond.
M Campbell,J Brown and JF McDonald were skips for Stonefield and for High Blantyre, skips were J Pettigrew, A Aitkenhead and C Allan. After a well contested game, Stonefield won this one closely 66-64. The visitors were afterwards entertained to lunch.
On Wednesday that week, an amusing incident took place when Mr David Hastie, the owner of Stonefield Farm at the corner of Victoria Street, and also the owner of the field where the pond was, made sporting challenges a little more interesting by offering up a bag of potatoes for the winner. The Stonefield Club then played against each other, the winners going forward to the next round, until the final which saw winners Mr James Dow and President himself, Mr David Hastie battle it out. The winner? Mr David Hastie! I wonder if he kept his own potatoes or gave them away.
In 1911/1912 season the Stonefield Pond facilities were greatly improved. A Tar macadam rink was laid down within the enclosure adjacent to the pond. Lighting was also provided by Acetylene Lamps. The tarmac rink was donated by Mr P Forrest and allowed play to take place when not possible on the pond. Captain Faulkener, Major Charrier and Colonel Peter Forrest were invited to be patrons of the club, accepting those roles., Miss Forrest became Patroness.
As World War One saw further intake of men from Blantyre, Blantyre Bowling Club suspended meetings in 1915. Even after the war and the shock of that terrible conflict, it would take until 1921 for members to decide to resurrect the club.
Continued on Part 5…..