Troon Portland Curling Club from 1830 to 2023

Troon is a small seaside town on the west coast of Scotland some 30 miles south of Glasgow.

Troon Sunset

Troon, Scotland

The fourth Earl of Portland is credited with transforming Troon from a resort of lawless smugglers in the early 1800’s into a thriving seaport town. The majority of the men who formed Troon Ice Club (the original name) had probably taken part in this development.

The Club was formed on 17th November, 1830 when 46 members each subscribed one shilling and Mr Wm. Aiton was appointed Treasurer.

In 1920, 90 years after Troon Portland Curling Club was founded, TPCC was admitted to the Royal Caledonian Curling Club, which had been in existence since 1838.  The club was presented with their 100-year medal at the RCCC AGM in 2020–from RCCC President and longtime Troon Portland member Andrew Kerr.

In the beginning, the Club’s annual subscription was sixpence but the bulk of the funds came from fines imposed on members for non-attendance at meetings and matches. The main expenses then were for cartage of stones to neighbouring village matches, the maintenance of the pond, the provision of whisky and gifts of food to the poor.
loch curling
The Club’s ponds were first at Burnfoot (on the North Shore), then on South Beach near Lochend Road and at the Barassie end of the Darley golf course. The last pond was bought from Welbeck Estates in 1845 at a cost of £6-10 shillings paid by a levy on each member of 3 shillings and sixpence. This was known as the Reed or Red Loch and latterly as Lochgreen, in a field inland from the present Lochgreen Hotel.

In these early times Mr. Hector Cowan and Mr. A. B. Cowan each gave over 50 years service to the Club. The first lady member, Lady Glenarthur, was invited to join in 1899. She was a great benefactor and thoroughly approved and supported the Club’s tradition of giving to the poorer off.

The first record of the Club taking indoor ice was in 1941 at Ayr Ice Rink. The Club subsequently sold its Lochgreen pond and clubhouse back to Welbeck Estates in 1947 for £30, (despite the pond field then being drained for agricultural use it is still a favourite haunt of curlews).

TPCC curlers

TPCC curlers at Ayr Ice Rink

In September 2023, the Ayr Ice Rink closed it doors for the last time after a crippling 110% increase in energy prices combined with falling curling membership, meant the ice rink could no longer break even. As a result, Troon Portland Curling Club moved its home ice to Greenacres Curling Club in Howwood, southwest of Paisley, and carried on with a slimmed down agenda, playing two of the previous four competitions.

The first Club trophy was a silver medal presented by Mr. Robert Smith played for between sides representing Templehill and Portland Street with a levy on players in the interests of the poor. In 1929 half a stone (3 kilos) of meal and half a pound of tea was distributed to each of 160 poor persons.

The Club has won the prestigious Eglinton Jug three times, and the Gairdner Silver Curling Stone often. This is played for between the local parishes and is a special feature of each season when lose or win “to hurl the channel stane wi’ skill is the joy of the true curler”.

The Club’s recent Curlers’ Courts were held in the South Beach Hotel on 8th February, 1963 chaired by Mr. Stewart Young – “A’ here – Aye, a’ here and fit”, and at Ayr Ice Rink on 31st January, 1981 chaired by Mr. James Watson.

In 1980 the Club celebrated its 150th Anniversary and sat 135 members down to dinner, Mr. James Watson presided, Mr. Charles Carlow was Hon. Sec. and Treasurer. Many new clubs formed themselves in the 1970s and 1980’s drawing some members away from the bigger clubs such as Portland.

Sheriff David Smith at the 175th Anniversary Bonspiel

In 2005 the club held its 175th Anniversary. The occasion was celebrated by an number of events. A bonspiel was held at Ayr Ice Rink attended by Provost Gordon Mackenzie of South Ayrshire Council who presented the club with a Quaich. This was followed later in the year by a dinner at the Ice Rink to which

RCCC President Gifford Rickard was invited. The last event was a curling weekend at Pitlochry at the beginning of November which had been the closest date available to the actual formation date.

For many years, the club hosted the Letton Bonspiel, where curlers played for the Letton Stone (and Wooden Spoon!) presented by Kirsty and Jimmy Letton to mark Kirsty’s rink winning the World Senior Ladies Championship at Braehead in 2000. The competition was put on hold following the move to Greenacres.

In early March 2020, the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic meant a shortened curling season for all curlers in the UK, and resulted in the cancellation of the 2019-20 AGM dinner and prizegiving which was due to be held in late March. All curling the following year was also cancelled, so the usual club competitions could not be held. The ice rink reopened under tightened restrictions in the autumn of 2021.

Troon Portland Curling Club presently runs two daytime leagues at Greenacres Curling Club–the Martin Inkstand competition at 10:00 on Tuesday mornings, and the Carlow Cup at 3:00 pm on Thursdays. It continues to host a Christmas Bonspiel and a Closing Bonspiel, as well as its AGM and Dinner at the end March/early April. The Club also continues to enter rinks in many competitions, including the Province competitions, the Eglinton Jug, and friendly matches with Crossmyloof Curling Club and Forest Hills Curling Club.

As we approach our 200th anniversary year, we continue to welcome new members and new curlers, and in the tradition of the first club members, the club continues to host raffles and raise money to support local charities, chosen each year by the club President.

Any curler or aspiring curler wishing more information about becoming a member of our Club is invited to contact the Club by emailing troonportlandcurling@gmail.com.