Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Skating in Scotland

There's an interesting story connected to the man in the painting below. His name was
Reverend Robert Walker and he was a Church of Scotland minister. Robert was born on the 30th April 1755 in Monkton, Ayrshire, but his father was a minister of the Scots Kirk in Rotterdam. It's probably here, on the frozen canals in winter, that the young Robert learnt to skate.

In this painting, by Sir Henry Raeburn, he's skating on Duddingston Loch, which is where the oldest skating club in Britain used to meet!  - the Edinburgh Skating Society, the oldest skating club in Britain...

The Edinburgh Skating Club is recognized as the first organized figure skating club.[1][2][3] While some sources[1][4] claim the club was established in 1642, most sources accept 1742 or 1744 as the date of its founding. The next-oldest skating club, in London, was not founded until 1830.[1]

The claim to the 1642 founding date appears to derive from a small book published by the club council in 1865, The Edinburgh Skating-Club with Diagrams of Figures and a List of the Members. As of that writing, the club's oldest extant records were dated January 1778, and the reference to 1642 appeared in only in club records from long after that period.[1]
There was an early contemporary reference to the Club in the second edition (1783) of the Encyclopædia Britannica that supports the 1742 or 1744 founding date:
The metropolis of Scotland has produced more instances of elegant skaters than perhaps any country whatever: and the institution of a skating club about 40 years ago has contributed not a little to the improvement of this elegant amusement.[1]

I had no idea figure skating was that old!



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