Other Tournaments

During the Craiglockhart years other tournaments than the Scottish championship were held at the hydro. The main one, contested in 1898 and then from 1901 to 1914, was for the Macfie prizes. This may have been a replacement for invitational tournaments the Macfies had organised at Borthwick Hall. In 1912 and 1913 the Edinburgh Hydropathic prize was also played for.

The following results are taken directly from handwritten tables compiled by Colonel Prichard and made available to me via Chris Williams by Prichard’s son William, though I have used Christian names instead of initials. I have not checked the accuracy of all the entries in the tables though I have replaced Prichard’s finalists and number of entrants for the 1898 Macfie prize by those for the tournament in which Miss Fenwicke won her CA silver medal (see ”other trophies”).

Macfie prize

Year

Winner

Runner-up

Entrants

1898

Rev Arthur Law

David Macfie

16

1901

Mrs Mary Macfie

Rev James Blake

14

1902

J Wilfred Woolston

Mrs Mary Macfie

21

1903

Rev Samuel Smartt

Miss Eveline Bramwell

30

1904

Rev Samuel Smartt

Capt Gordon Lister

13

1905

Mrs Mary Macfie

Miss Eveline Bramwell

38

1906

Miss Eveline Bramwell

John Thain

36

1907

John Thain

Mrs Mary Macfie

17

1908

John McMordie

Mrs Mary Macfie

22

1909

Arthur Maxwell Stuart

Rev James Blake

17

1910

Sir Charles Bird Locock

John Thain

16

1912

Arthur Maxwell Stuart

Miss Ethelwyn Sabine

12

1913

Thomas Dickson

Dr Kenneth Ingleby-MacKenzie

17

1914

Thomas Dickson

Charles Stevenson

13

Edinburgh Hydropathic prize

Year

Winner

Runner-up

Entrants

1913

Arthur Maxwell Stuart

John Thain

13

1914

Arthur Maxwell Stuart

Mrs E Hughes

23

The names of many of the winners are already familiar to us from the championship but two winners of the Macfie prize are new. Sir Charles Bird Locock (CA silver medal 1906) was the grandson of Queen Victoria’s obstetrician for whom the baronetcy he inherited was created. His brother Charles Dealtry Locock wrote a number of books on croquet, was editor of the CA Gazette until 1915 and was the paid CA Handicapper from 1907 to 1929. Thomas Dickson played frequently after the war, chalking up 305 games in England, Ireland and France until his death, aged 64, in 1925. He won more than two-thirds of these games and his victims included many illustrious names such as O’Callaghan, Corbally and DD Steel. He achieved the CA silver medal in 1913, possibly for the Macfie prize tournament.

We can identify another Scot among the runners-up – and a famous one! Charles Alexander Stevenson was a civil engineer who was born in Edinburgh in 1855 and lived in Douglas Crescent.  So much is evident from a comparison of his address in the CA membership list and his 1901 census return. He was rather more than that: he was a brilliant inventor and a member of the famous family of lighthouse builders, who, with his elder brother David, built twenty-three of them. In 1914 he finished Maughold Head lighthouse on the Isle of Man. Perhaps he celebrated the end of that job by allowing himself to play in a croquet tournament. He was another long-lived player, not dying until 1950. His obituary, written for the Royal Society of Edinburgh, says ”His personal character had a great charm. Kindliness, gentleness and tolerance are characteristics that come to one's mind in recalling him, and permeating them all there was a natural unaffected simplicity and absence of sophistication”. The relevant entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography mentions that Charles and David were interested in golf, archery and skating but fails to acknowledge Charles’ expertise at croquet. Since he won a CA silver medal in 1905 he must have played at a high level for at least a decade. His inventive mind could not fail to look at the croquet mallet: in his book A Star for Seamen Craig Mair writes: “Charles … designed a new mallet head and sold the rights to Ayres Sports Outfitters for £40”, and it is therefore possible that the ideas in Frederick Henry Ayres' 1894 patent for a new mallet design were not all his.

Miss (Edith) Ethelwyn Sabine (1870 – 1934) was born in Australia but visited Edinburgh in 1911 and1912 and in most years between 1920 and her death she averaged about 20 games a year in England, often including the Ladies’ championship. She received the CA silver medal in 1913.  Dr Ingleby MacKenzie, who also obtained his CA silver medal in 1913, was for many years a family doctor in Ryde, Isle of Wight. His grandson Colin led Hampshire to the county cricket championship and became president of the MCC.

There were also competitions for Scottish gold medals for men and women separately from 1908 to 1914.

Scottish gold medal (men)

Year

Winner

Runner-up

Entrants

1908

Reginald Bloxsome

AW Walters

13

1909

Keith Izard

Harold Fowler

13

1910

Harold Fowler

Arthur Maxwell Stuart

12

1911

John McMordie

Charles Stevenson

15

1912

John Thain

John McMordie

13

1913

Arthur Maxwell Stuart

Thomas Dickson

10

1914

Arthur Maxwell Stuart

John McMordie

13

Reginald Bloxsome and his wife and daughter appear in the 1911 census, living in a house near Peterborough, though ten years previously they were in Fitzroy, NSW. They are all shown as born in NSW but resident in the UK. Reginald is 57 and is described as having private means. He not only played in Scotland in 1908, he was runner-up in the British Open in 1912 and claimed a CA silver medal in 1913. (Can it be that the entry for the Open the previous year was too small for the losing finalist to get a medal?)

Keith Izard was a New Zealander and winner of the first two New Zealand Open Championships in 1913 and 1914, though his flamboyant play had earned him his CA silver medal as early as 1906. He joined the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in London in 1914 as a sapper. He survived the war but died in the world-wide post-war flu pandemic. His father, like his grandfather a New Zealand MP, donated money to the city of Wellington in 1921 for a park to be created and named after him; it still exists.

Harold Fowler lived on the Pembrokeshire coast; the croquet pavilion he built in 1910 can still be seen today, though it has been converted into a modern example of sustainable living. He obtained the CA silver medal in 1907; I have no evidence to connect him with the Harold Fowler who won a silver medal for yachting at the 1924 Olympic games.

Of AW Walters I can find no trace; he appears never to have been a member of the CA and he seems not to appear in the 1911 census of Scotland.

The West Edinburgh Tennis and Croquet Club was established at Murrayfield in 1904, and some of the Edinburgh players we know about, who all lived near the west end of Princes Street, may have played there as travelling to Murrayfield would have been easier than travelling to Craiglockhart. Most of the croquet lawn was lost in 1920 when Corstorphine Road was widened so that tram lines could be laid.

Scottish gold medal (women)

Year

Winner

Runner-up

Entrants

1908

Mrs Mary Macfie

Mrs AE Buckle

4

1909

Mrs Mary Macfie

Mrs F Workman

6

1910

Mrs Cecil Newton

Mrs WA Williams

7

1911

Mrs E Hughes

Mrs R Crawford

7

1912

Mrs EGM McMordie

Mrs MW Herapath

8

1913

Mrs F Workman

Miss EF Barber

7

1914

Mrs F Workman

Mrs E Hughes

5

Three of the ladies came from the north of Ireland, viz Mrs Workman (CA silver medal 1914), Mrs Hughes (Emma? CA silver medal 1907) and Mrs McMordie (John’s mother). All but one of the rest were from the south of England, the exception being Mrs Buckle who lived in Edinburgh. Unfortunately, in spite of Buckle being a surprisingly common name in Edinburgh at that time, there is no Mr AE Buckle in either the 1901 or the1911 census and I cannot identify the lady.