May 22, 2008

Chamonix 1924 Olympic medals acquired by Royal Caledonian Curling Club

Not everyone shares my interest in the history of our sport, but perhaps you can imagine my excitement when David Smith told me that two of the Gold medals won by the British curling team in the 1924 International Week of Winter Sports organised by the International Olympic Committee were for sale. This event was the first Winter Olympics! The medals were won by WK Jackson (skip) and his son Lawrence Jackson (lead) who played with Tom Murray (2nd) and Robin Welsh (3rd) in Chamonix.

William Kilgour Jackson farmed in Symington in Lanarkshire. He was the best known Scottish curler of the inter-war period. He skipped his rink to success in no fewer than fifty-nine competitions in Edinburgh Ice Rink alone, and scored many other triumphs. He was the top performer in the 1924 Scottish touring team to Canada.

He died in 1955, aged eighty-four. His collection of curling memorabilia and that of his son Lawrence passed to his grandson, James, whose widow, Sylvia Jackson, offered it to the Royal Caledonian Curling Club. An independent valuation was obtained - a five figure sum - and the purchase was agreed with the Royal Club's Charitable trust, made possible by the generous donation made for historical purposes by Bob Gardner of Falkirk last year.

The collection is still to be comprehensively catalogued but it contains in addition to the Olympic gold medals, 23 for winning the Edinburgh Ice Rink Directors' Trophy; 27 for the Linlithgow Trophy; 33 for the Robson Trophy; 25 for the Swan Trophy; and 18 for the World's Curling Championship (a Scottish competition but the most important of those run by Edinburgh Ice Rink in Haymarket). There are two medals for participating in the International Match between England and Scotland; one Edinburgh Meat Traders' Curling Club medal; one for the Manchester Ice Palace Shield. There is also Jackson's gold presidential medal of Edinburgh Ice Rink and a gold life membership medal awarded to him by the Canadian Branch of the RCCC, when he was touring in Canada.

A number of the club badges which he brought back from this tour are also in the collection with newspaper cuttings, and photographs.

A treasure trove indeed, which hopefully all will go on display at some point in the future.

Thanks to David Smith for much of the detail. Above: the front of a Gold Medal awarded in 1924.

The British team at the 1924 Olympic Games. L-R: WK Jackson, Robin Welsh, Tom Murray, Lawrence Jackson. From a Royal Caledonian Curling Club Annual, courtesy of David B Smith.

Action in Chamonix 1924. From the Official Report of the 1924 Olympics. This is available as a (large) pdf file from the Digital Achive of the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles website here.

Sylvia Jackson and Royal Club trustee David B Smith with just a few of the medals and pins in the Jackson collection. Photo by Bob.

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