It may come as a surprise for some to read that in 1909 a rink was started in Johannesburg, by Mrs. Dale Lace, who used to go to Winter Sport in Switzerland each year to Engelberg, above Lucerne. That was at the time when that lovely little resort was favoured by Rudyard Kipling and his family and by E. W. Hornung (who wrote amongst other things Raffles). Mrs. Dale Lace used to come to Princes Skating Club and was a friend of Lady Randolph Churchill, whom she resembled. They were two most strikingly beautiful women, and they skated there frequently. Johannesburg came back into the picture when our British Mens Championship was won by Arthur Apfel of that city, in 1946. I always think that the most extraordinary skating country however is Australia, where, as far back as 1904, a Mr. Newman-Reid built an ice rink at Adelaide. It worked under great difficulties, the refrigeration being piped from an ice works a quarter of a mile away. There, however, the long line of Australian skaters started, fifty years ago. With this Adelaide experience behind him, Mr. Newman-Reid went to Melbourne where he built the Glaciarium in 1905. it opened its first season in May, 1906, and has remained open ever since, despite all hazards, crises and world wars. Under such capable teachers as James Brewer and Claude Langley rapid progress was made; where these two learnt their skating it is difficult to say, but the world famous Miss Dent of Princes Skating Club known to my generation affectionately as Rock of Ages who went out each summer and taught there, once told me that she learnt to skate in the North of India where she lived as a child while her father served there in the British Army.
In a short time Australia produced men good enough to compete in the World Championship. The late Dunbar Pool, who came back here after the First World War and managed several of the rinks both in London and in Scotland, was a very sound performer, as were Ramsay Salmon, the Reid boys and their sister Mireylees, as well as the well-known Miss Phyllis Hammond-Clegg (Billy Clegg to her intimates) whose waltzing was a joy for both partner and spectator in the years just before the First World War at Princes, where she attracted great attention and with whom we all wanted to dance. In 1907 the Sydney Glaciarium opened its doors. It was not until 1911, however, that a figure-skating association to govern the sport was formed, and this body promptly proceeded to hold championships for men and ladies, as well as for waltzing on ice. H. Newman-Reid won the mens, Miss Mireylees Reid the ladies and Miss Ryl Moore and Cyril F. MacGillicuddy won the waltzing. This, together with the formation of the Figure-Skating Club of New South Wales in 1912 by Charles MacLurcan, and the eventual amalgamation of both the Melbourne and Sydney bodies into a National Association, paved the way for the fine successes of Australian skaters of today. Ably led by Charles MacLurcan and Dr. Cyril MacGillicuddy, who started National tests on the lines of those of the N.S.A., Australians now rank as worthy contenders in International Competitions.
Such skaters as R. G. Park, who was second in the British Championship in 1949, Adrian Swan who won it in 1952, Patricia and Gweneth Molony of Melbourne and Dawn Hunter and the Sydney pair Jacqueline Mason and Mervyn Bower, who skated so well in the World Championship in Paris in 1952, and who stayed here and passed the Pair Gold test, bear witness to this.
It is a most encouraging fact that from those countries where one would least expect skating or indeed any form of winter sport South Africa, Australia and New Zealand there should come the greatest enthusiasm for the idea of an Empire and Commonwealth Winter Sports Federation, a scheme which I began with an article in The Times and which is making great progress.
The Early Years upto 1914
Part 15
The Early Years upto 1914 Index.