The Story so Far !!!
The Gourock Curling Club was founded in 1858 with the local laird, Major Duncan Darroch, being made Patron with his son Duncan as the first President.
Fortunately for the Club, Major Darroch owned the former large estate with Gourock House being his mansion. Gourock House which no longer stands - was situated in Darroch Park and part of his estate ( Auchneagh Meadow) was offered to the club to make a Curling Pond.
It was proposed that the rent be not more than 31 pounds. However there was an amendment to this and it was agreed that it should be one shilling ( 5p ) per annum.
Within a year, the pond had been made and water was " let in "in December 1859.
In February 1860 it was mooted that a house be built at a cost of 39 pounds to accommodate the stones, and members were encouraged to offer donations so that the house could be completed as expeditiously as possible. It was built ( according to a Minute of the day ) :-
"so that brother curlers when they come to play a match will not have anything to say against the Gourock Club in the shape of uncomfortableness".
On completion of the Curling House in 1861, Sir Michael Shaw-Stewart, the laird of the neighbouring Ardgowan intimated ,at a match between Ardgowan Barony Club ( of which he was President ) and Gourock, that he would be willing to propose Gourock as a member of The Royal Caledonian Curling Club and the Club was duly admitted in 1861.
The first reference to a Curlers Court is made in the Minutes of 1862 when the Secretary invited some of the members of the neighbouring Ardgowan Club to come to Gourock and initiate our Club members. It is recorded in the Minutes of October 1862 that several members "had the mysteries of curling instilled in them"
To this day, the tradition of the Curlers Court is maintained, one being held every other year.
The new patron, Duncan Darroch, came quickly to the aid of the Club and offered ground for a new Pond near the gamekeeper's cottage. And so it was that by January 1867 a new Pond had been formed and a new house measuring 18 feet by 10 feet was erected at a total cost of 393 pounds. This money was loaned by the Bank and was eventually paid off by 1874.
Interestingly, in 1864 a Chaplain was elected as an office-bearer of the Club Rev George McCorkindale, who remained as chaplain until his sad demise in 1870. The Minutes recorded the members "....... deep regret at the loss sustained by the removal from their midst of their much lamented, highly esteemed, honoured and greatly beloved Chaplain, the late Rev George McCorkindale who perished in a snow storm on the heights of Mont Blanc."
Four further Chaplains were appointed between 1870 and 1889 but no further chaplains were appointed until 1949 when Rev Robert Paterson was elected. In 1950. Rev Harold Eggo became chaplain in 1951 but, following his departure to Dunbar in 1956, no further appointments have been made.
The Pond was constantly and annually under repair towards the start of each season which must have involved a great deal of effort and financial commitment on the part of the Committee and members. Even as recently as 1856 a new Pond Fund was set up to continue the possibility of playing outdoors but with games being increasingly held in Indoor Ice Rinks particularly the Scottish Curling Rink at Crossmyloof, it became obvious that with the expenditure involved, the recurring vandalism which was taking place and the milder Winters, the possibility of curling on the Pond became more and more unlikely. The Curling Pond, which was situated opposite the entrance to Gourock Cemetery, was eventually abandoned in 1963 with the Rent to Gourock Burgh Council still at one shilling per annum.
The Club owes a great deal to the then village of Gourock, then to the town, to the Darrochs ( the local lairds - the club's first and subsequent Patrons ), whose name remained in the Minutes until 1955, the Gambles ( Mrs Gamble of The Gamble Halls also being a Patroness of the Club ), the Provosts, Baillies and Councillors of the Burgh, many of whom were members of the Club, one of whom Ex Provost John M Fletcher died as recently as March 2004.
The above, together with the Presidents and members alike, each in their own discreet way made monetary donations when the need arose, or gave gifts such as medals, pipes, curling stones, Tam 0' Shanters etc to be played for in competitions.
It was known throughout Scotland that Gourock was renowned for being one of the best curling clubs
In the West of Scotland, an accolade which has continued, although perhaps more socially than recently in inter-club competitions, its hospitality and friendship is still much appreciated and valued by its kindred clubs.
There are numerous newspaper cuttings retained in the Club's Minute Books which are now housed in the Watt Library, Union Street, Greenock where access to them may be obtained on production of a letter of authority from the Club Secretary. Many of the newspaper cuttings emanated from the now defunct Gourock Times whose proprietor the late James C Simpson ( Mr Gourock ) was himself a former President and Honorary Member of the club.
The opening of The Waterfront Leisure Centre in nearby Greenock saw a resurgence of interest in the Club whose membership has increased greatly in recent years. The Waterfront run a Super League which is contested by all of the local clubs and which, to our credit, was won in the inaugural Season for that League in 1998/99......and by the nicest of coincidences, it has been won once again in 2008 in an appropriate start to this special year of 2008 which marks the Club's 150th Anniversary. Forty-one members founded this Club in 1858 and on the roll were one Sheriff, two sea captains, one lieutenant, a doctor and a minister. Today the Club ( which remains an all male club ) has a current membership in the high seventies, and includes six former sea captains ( now mostly retired Clyde pilots ), doctors, surgeons (including some specialising in orthopaedics showing that we don' t take any chances on the Ice ) an optician ( leaving no excuse for being off the brush ), a ferrymaster, accountants, architects, engineers, IT specialists, local government officers and other businessmen, entrepreneurs and retirees.
In recent years, the name of Gourock Curling Club has become known in Europe as a result of the Club's involvement - in both 2002 and 2003 - in the Tournoi International de Chamonix as well as in Competitions in Switzerland resulting from friendships forged with Curlers from Neuchatel at the WCCCs held at Braehead in 2000.
Aye - this Club ( which has featured as Club of the Month in The Scottish Curler ) is truly "a grand wee Club to play for" and a credit to the Roaring Game. To be a member of it is most rewarding and enjoyable.
Long may its stones reach the Head.