The earliest years at the Orbiston Pond

The earliest record we have of the club is from the first minute book, started in 1877.

The earliest venue known to be used by the Bellshill Curling Club is the pond at Orbiston. This is close to where Orbiston Mains farm was and the club was then known as the Orbiston Curling Club. We know that this pond was in use from the earliest club minutes. The Ordnance Survey map of 1864 marks a curling pond here so we know that it was in use rather earlier than the 1864-1865 foundation of the club.

The pond is still there today, and will be familiar to local golfers as the pond between the second and third holes of Bellshill Golf Club (founded 1905). This pond appears to be natural, there is no need to fill the pond, indeed attempts by the golf club to drain it were not very successful.

As a curling pond it is deep enough to give the stones the proper roar as they slid over it (the effect which originally gave the Curling its name of “The Roaring Game”). Later many clubs build very shallow concrete based ponds; these freeze very quickly and allow much more play in the year. The pond was north to south which is not ideal for Curling, artificial ponds were usually laid east to west to balance the effect of the sun. There were more trees around the pond at that time.

There does not appear to have been a house for stones at Orbiston. The minutes record costs for carting stones out to Orbiston for games.

The pond was used until 1883 when the new pond in Bellshill was built. After the demise of that the Orbiston pond was used again between 1907 and about 1912 as the club was transferring to indoor ice at Crossmyloof. The farmer at Orbiston Mains by this later period was Mr. John Gilchrist, a former member of the club.

One 1910 reference in the minutes refers to playing on Babylon, meaning the Orbiston pond. This is a name given to the area from the 1820s when for a couple of years there was a community living there. This was organised along the lines of Robert Owen of New Lanark fame. Unfortunately the community fell apart due to internal disputes after the death of key leader and was nicknamed Babel or Babylon. Its existence lives on in the local street names such as Community Road and Liberty Road and the 17th hole on the golf course is called Babylon. The community had a building immediately to the west of the railway viaduct.

From 1885 the club changed its name from the Orbiston Curling Club to become the Bellshill Curling and Skating Club. This reflected the change in venue and presumably being in the town it allowed more people to easily access the pond. The idea that the pond be for skating as well was minuted on October 1883

Ordnance Survey map of 1864

1864 Ordnance Survey map of Orbiston showing a curling pond

Image produced from the www.old-maps.co.uk service with permission of
Landmark Information Group Ltd. and Ordnance Survey.