Please note: due to the recent Covid-19 outbreak the Centre is currently closed, but our website is still open for business.
Basketball or netball, Belhaven 1910

East Lothian’s Sports – an introduction

The county has a long and honourable sporting tradition. Golf and archery have been established for centuries. The origins of bowling and curling clubs lie deep in the past. Horse racing and field sports were also popular. Increased leisure time in the nineteenth century saw a proliferation of clubs representing an increasing number of activities. Rifle shooting, cricket, tennis, football and rugby flourished and professional sprinting was popular in our mining communities. Press reports, club minutes and county registers held at the John Gray Centre provide an invaluable insight into the membership and activities of clubs past (and present).

Basketball or netball, Belhaven 1910Sporting activities have left their impression on the landscape – if golf courses are the most obvious manifestation the more obscure include archery butts, rifle ranges, race courses and a multiplicity of curling ponds, bowling greens, courts, pitches and circuits. Croquet lawns adorned the policies of some of the larger houses and quoits pins were to be found in the more urban areas.

The county has produced its share of champions. They include rugby internationalists Finlay Calder and Derek White; the bowler Willie Wood, golfers Ben Sayers and Open champions Musselburgh’s Park family (Mungo, Willie, & Willie Jr) with Catriona Matthew of the present day; sidecar racer Jock Taylor of Pencaitland; Musselburgh’s runner Yvonne Murray and Tranent’s pro sprinter George McNeil;  and footballers galore. Even the now obscure Victorian sport of competitive pedestrianism is represented by Haddington’s Robert Carlisle.

The links on this page highlight some of our collections relating to sportspersons and their activities.  At the end of July 2012 the John Gray Centre will take sporting history as its theme. If you have any suggestions for us or would like to contribute yourself please don’t hesitate to get in touch in person at the John Gray Centre in Haddington, or email us, or comment below, or share a story about this topic at Your Stories.

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