Video Tours of Hosts and Champions at Trinity Church, Irvine

Our exhibition assistant Jocelyn Grant has produced two fabulous videos showcasing the construction and opening of Hosts and Champions at Trinity Church in Irvine. If you have ever wondered how an exhibition comes together, then her time-lapse video provides you with some clues.

The second video illustrates the various team uniforms on display, which provides a snapshot of how Team Scotland’s kit has changed over the years.

Jocelyn has written a number of blog posts on our Archive Blog and has also contributed to the Legacy 2014 blog about her experience on the project.


Hosts and Champions on the road….

“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.”
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

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And so our Hosts and Champions exhibition hits the road, 2014 in the wing mirror, heading to new destinations and new heights. First stop is Trinity Church, Irvine in North Ayrshire.

The Stirling University archive team of Karl, Ian and Joss have been hard at work over the past two months to help select new materials from Glasgow 2014, as well include more images and artefacts from the archives


Part of the journey is explained by Joss on the Stirling Uni Archive blog, and this included digitising some of our holdings to present on iPads in the revamped exhibition.

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The formal opening, on 9 March 2015, was a grand affair with tea and Legacy cakes and biscuits to boot. Guests of honour were Margaret Burgess MSP, NAC Provost Joan Sturgeon and Chairman of Commonwealth Games Scotland, Michael Cavanagh, who brought along the Queen’s Baton to celebrate our opening.

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The invited guests also included a number of local medalists from previous  Commonwealth Games including James Dunlop who won gold in the shooting Skeet Pairs in Auckland 1990, and bowler George Adrain who won two gold medals for Scotland in 1986 (Edinburgh) and 1990. We also had the privilege of handling a 2014 silver medal won by Robert Conway and Irene Edgar in the mixed pairs parabowling.

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The exhibition itself has doubled in size from the original event in the Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow. Commonwealth Games Scotland contributed a set of signed photographs by all 53 Scottish medal winners from 2014, and we have been able to display a selection of these in the exhibit. We also have an original medal podium, as designed by Paul Hodgkiss, crafted from fallen trees collected in and around Glasgow.

A great thanks must go to Lesley Forsyth at North Ayrshire Council, some of whose images appear here, for inviting us to use the wonderful Trinity Church as the venue for our exhibition. Hosts And Champions will be at Trinity Church Irvine until 17 April 2015 before moving on to Carnoustie Library.

Doing the Hosts and Champions exhibition has brought a wonderful array of people together, and the journey is only just beginning…

Finally, as par of Legacy Week, the Big Lottery Celebrate It fund has produced a Legacy Film, and we’re in it!

Strange Tales From The Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive

As part of our exhibition Hosts and Champions: Scotland in the Commonwealth Games we discovered a number of fascinating and amazing stories about Scots in the Games which we celebrated in a list of ‘Strange Tales From the Archive’. The following provides a sample of the stories we found and images from the archive.

Hamilton 1930

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Cissie Stewart:

Swimmer Cissie Stewart from Dundee won two bronze medals in Hamilton, but her life changing moment occurred immediately afterward when she eloped to Niagara Falls with The Scotsman journalist Ian Hunt. She had concealed her wedding dress in an additional suitcase and did not reveal to anyone what she was about to do.

Ellen King;

King, one of Scotland’s greatest swimmers of the period with multiple titles and records to her name, established Zenith Ladies Swimming Club in 1925 in response to the constraints of male administrators, and helps illustrate one of the ways in which women’s sporting practices were negotiated during the period. this image reveals how she maintained her strength and fitness for swimming without a swimming pool on the journey to Canada. Using a punchball showed ingenuity and recognised leading female swimmers understood the need for strength conditioning – although it would not have been known as such then.

London 1934

Scotland didn’t send a cycling team to the London Games because the governing body of the sport, the National Cyclists Union, was an English organisation with a Scottish branch. The NCU also represented professional cyclists, which was against the rules of the Empire Games movement of the time. Scottish cyclists did not enter the Games until 1950.

Sydney 1938

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Ten competitors represented Scotland: eight men and two women. It took six weeks to sail to Australia on the liner ‘Ormonde’, and the team were away from Scotland for four months. The Australians gifted Scotland £600 Australian pounds (just over £400 sterling) to travel to the Games. The SNSF employed a fundraiser to raise the remaining £600 required to cover the 10 competitors to travel to the Games. The team travelled with the English and Welsh teams, and shared trainers and equipment on board.


In 1938 the Lord Provost of Edinburgh pursued the idea of holding the Games in Scotland. However, Canada won the right to host the Games which were cancelled because of the Second World War.

Auckland 1950

Scottish male athletes read good luck messages from home as they arrive in Auckland.

Scottish male athletes read good luck messages from home as they arrive in Auckland.

Alan Paterson (High Jump) and Andrew Forbes (Middle-distance Runner) would be the first Scottish athletes to fly to the Games due to the constraints of their employers. Paterson, a chartered accountant, and Forbes, who worked for electronics company Philips, were funded by cinema magnate Sir Alexander King, to fly via Iceland, Gander, Hawaii and Fiji on the way to Auckland. The flight from Prestwick took one week to get to New Zealand and the pair arrived two days after the main party sailing on the cruise liner Tamaroa docked in Auckland. Both would win silver medals in their respective sports.

Female athletes on the Tamaroa had a chaperone on the sea voyage to New Zealand, Mrs W. G. Todd, who brought along balls of wool and knitting needles to keep the young women occupied and ‘out of mischief’.

Vancouver 1954

Scots marathon runner Joe McGhee won the gold after English athlete, and world record holder, Jim Peters collapsed with less than a lap to the finish line. Peters entered the stadium 20 minutes ahead of the Scot.

The Scotland Team’s return flight home was delayed for engine repairs, so during the extended wait general team manager, Willie Carmichael, took the whole team to the cinema to see Three Coins in a Fountain.

Cardiff 1958


The British Empire & Commonwealth Games Flag seen above was first used in 1958 for the Cardiff Games. In Edinburgh 1970 the flag was stolen from a flagpole by a student working for John Menzies who forty years later returned it to Commonwealth Games Scotland and was used in our exhibition.


The Games in Wales were the first to be televised live to a Scottish audience. The multisport event was so popular with viewers it inspired the BBC to introduce the programme Grandstand later that year. The first programme was presented by Peter Dimmock, but as the Head of Outside Broadcasts he was considered too busy to continue and his place was taken by David Coleman in his first major TV role.

Kingston 1966


Scottish runner Jim Alder won gold in the marathon, but not before being misdirected by an official, missing the entrance to the stadium, overtaken by Englishman Bill Adcocks, and then overtaking him on the final lap to victory.

Alder also competed in the 10,000 metres 3 days earlier. The Scots administrators had told him not to run and save himself for the marathon, but alder and his coach disagreed and he ended up with a bronze medal. Rather than being congratulated the Scots management simply told him “you better win the marathon!”

Hosts and Champions Exhibition – A Selection of 1970’s Photographs

Hosts and Champions Logo

The exhibition ‘Hosts and Champions: Scotland in the Commonwealth Games’ celebrating 84 years of Scotland’s involvement in the Games is due to move to Glasgow’s Old Fruitmarket next week as part of the Glasgow 2014 Festival and shall be open to the public from 24th July 2014. The exhibition includes a number of selected images from the Commonwealth Games Scotland archive held at the University of Stirling from the 1970 British Commonwealth Games held in Edinburgh. Below is a ‘sneak peak’ of four of the twenty fantastic images of the hosts and champions from 44 years ago. If you have any stories about anyone in the photographs or have something you would like to add to the archive please get in touch. My thanks to Ian Mackintosh who researched the images and captions.

Images from the 1970 Edinburgh Games

Scotland first hosted the Commonwealth Games in 1970, having built brand new sports facilities in Edinburgh including the Meadowbank Stadium and The Royal Commonwealth Pool. These images from the Commonwealth Games Scotland archive held at the University of Stirling show the bonhomie between hosts and champions in what is fondly remembered as the ‘Friendly Games’. The 1970 Games were the first to be attended by Her Majesty The Queen, but the Queens Baton Relay still carried her message to the Opening Ceremony. The memorable moments from the Meadowbank stadium include Scottish gold medals for Lachie Stewart (Men’s 10,000m), Ian Stewart (Men’s 5000m) and Rosemary Stirling (Women’s 800m). The 1970 Games were the first to move from Imperial to metric measurements, and also saw the introduction of an electronic photo finish. They were also the first to be televised in colour, via satellite, to other parts of the Commonwealth.

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(Press Association)

‘Dunky Dick’ on a lap of honour: Scotsman Lachie Stewart celebrates gold in the 10,000m.

The iconic image of the 1970 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games. Lachlan ‘Lachie’ Stewart of Shettleston Harriers in Glasgow has just won the 10,000 metres for Scotland ahead of the great Australian Ron Clarke. ‘Dunky Dick’ was the Scotland team’s unofficial mascot and was named after Dunky Wright the Scotland team manager, and Frank Dick the Athletics team coach. Lachie was presented the with the mascot by fellow Scottish athlete Rosemary Stirling who won gold in the woman’s 800 metres. The teddy bear was ever present at each and every Scottish gold medal celebration.

The hectic schedule of the games meant that on one occasion Dunky was misplaced and feared lost but he reappeared in time to be carried shoulder high by the Scottish Athletics team at the closing ceremony.


(Press Association)

Coorie Up! 20K Singapore walker B.K.S. Maniam gets encouragement from local Edinburgher’s.

The 20 km walk is one of the most intriguing of the Athletics events. The style of walking is monitored throughout the race and despite the vocal encouragement form a local lady Maniam remains focussed on the walking style for the race. As with the marathon, the race provides an opportunity for the people of the host city to witness a major sporting event passing through the neighbourhood. In the background, a steward announces the name of the passing competitors to local spectators.


(Press Association)

Split Loyalties? Gold medalist Ron Hill of England pounds the Edinburgh streets in the marathon.

An Edinburgh woman has no divided loyalties when it comes to cheering the winner of a race. Englishman Ron Hill is on his way to winning the gold Medal for the Marathon. Here he is running back towards the Meadowbank Stadium passing an Edinburgh women dressed in a tartan skirt and wearing a Scotland Commonwealth games rosette. Although she may have preferred it to be a Scottish runner, she is nonetheless pleased Britain’s premier marathon runner of the era is leading. Earlier that year Hill was the first British athlete to win the Boston Marathon in a record time of 2:10:30.

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Eyes Left from the Queen: The formal closing of the 1970 Games.

The closing ceremony of the 1970 Edinburgh British Empire Commonwealth Games. A solemn moment form the Officer in Charge as he walks with HRH Queen Elizabeth II to inspect the Guard of Honour at Meadowbank Stadium. The young soldiers are also aware of the occasion as they are maintain their composure or is it the sword that maintains the disciple. The look on the young soldiers face would appear to give that impression.


Further 1970 images will be on public display in the Bazaar Bar, The Old Fruitmarket, from 24th July to 3rd August.

Colonel Whitton and the 1938 Scottish Empire Games Team


In the contemporary age of international sport, the idea of global travel is commonplace and part of the job of a professional athlete. In the early years of the Commonwealth Games (then the British Empire Games), international travel was the reserve of the societal elite, and would have been a unique, exciting and daunting experience for most of the athletes involved. With trips to places such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand, athletes could expect to be away travelling and competing for weeks on end, which had consequences for their work and family lives.

Following the London British Empire Games in 1934, the decision of where to host the third games in 1938 came down to two potential cities: Toronto, Canada and Sydney, Australia. The Canadians, who had rekindled the idea of the Games, were keen to maintain the momentum the new multisport event had gained following successful Games in Hamilton (1930) and London (1934). The Australians, whose relationship with the Empire had become increasingly strained, were eager to host the Games in order to showcase their vibrant new urban developments and promote the country as a new destination for migrants and tourists.

The Canadian case was founded on the Games coinciding with the Diamond Jubilee Celebration of the Canadian National Exhibition. They would also build a new stadium on the waterfront and had the belief that they were the ‘natural’ home of the Games. According to the Canadians, Australia was too remote and too far to travel for most nations of the Commonwealth. As this excerpt from the bid letter from the Secretary of Canadian Amateur Athletics Association demonstrates:

I am certain that it would be the wish of the Board to hold the Games in a part of the Empire where they have not been previously held if this be at all possible, but I feel – and I am sure the Board will agree with me in this – that the Games should be held only in Dominions to which the other parts of the Empire could send reasonably representative teams both in quality and number, as without this the Games would lose much of their Imperial value.

Conversely, Canada, according to the Australians, had already hosted the Games and was therefore not yet due to host it again. The main incentive to have the Games in Sydney would be to coincide with 150th anniversary of the Foundation of Sydney taking place at the same time. Their bid letter announced the Governor of New South Wales had guaranteed travel bursaries for visiting nations which was broken down in to proposed payments to individual participating nations:

  • Venue: Sydney, 1.3million population
  • Dates: January 1938
  • Events: Athletics, Swimming/Diving, Cycling, Boxing and Wrestling, Sculling, Bowls.

Financial Assistance: Steamer passages only:

  • England          15 persons @ £100  £1500
  • Scotland         6 persons                   £600
  • Wales              3 persons                   £300
  • N. Ireland       2 persons                   £200
  • Canada           15 persons @ £80    £1200
  • S. Africa          10 persons @ £100  £1000
  • New Zealand  10 persons @ £20    £200
  • India               3 persons @ £40       £120
  • Bermuda, British Guiana, Trinidad, Hong Kong, Fiji, Jamaica, Rhodesia, Newfoundland £380 in total.
  • Local Australians       50 @ £10       £500
  • Total                                                   £6000

In their letter to Evan Hunter, Secretary of BEGF, the Australian James Eve proclaimed:

You, Sir, having recently visited Australia, know full well the facilities we have at our disposal, our climatic conditions and the organising ability of our administrators, and we sincerely trust that no obstacle will be placed in the way to endanger our application.

Whether it was the climate, the Australian passion for sport or the security of travel funds, in October 1935 the Scottish National Sports Federation confirmed to the Scottish media that Sydney would host the third British Empire Games in January 1938, and that the Scottish team would receive £600 Australian currency (£480 Sterling) to cover some of their costs.

The Federation let it be known their preference was Canada, and further concluded they would need twice the amount being offered by the Australians to cover the expenses of sending a team of ten plus an administrator to Australia. An appeals fund was set up and it soon became apparent raising £500 would not be easy. In November 1936, Evan Hunter, Secretary of the British Empire Games Association gave the Scottish Secretary George Ferguson the ‘tip’ to provisionally book their births on the ship for Australia. Provisional reservations were made of four four-berth cabins on the “Ormonde” sailing from London on 4th December 1937. A special return fair £64 10’ (usually £77) also gave return passage on the “Statheden” from Sydney on 18th February 1938. The total travel costs were expected to be £75 per athlete.

The Federation had employed a fundraiser for this specific purpose, and in the minutes of the Annual Report the lines of where amateurism in the Games movement began and ended were justified:

There are many of us willing and able to do our best for the furtherance of the Empire Games movement in the form of giving our time and thought to the organization of Scotland’s part in the scheme yet it would be most unfair to ask anyone to undertake the task of raising funds without suitable remuneration.

The limits on cost also posed questions for how many competitors, and who, to send. The quality of competitors and their chances of medals were paramount. Ferguson was clear in his mind about the limits of the Scottish team:

In my view there is little likelihood of our being able to send eleven first-class competitors and accordingly we can consider ourselves in a satisfactory financial position to send all competitors who have any likelihood of reasonable success.

The whole trip would take four months and athletes needed early warning of their inclusion to make necessary arrangements.


Membership of the Scottish team was decided by ballot among the Federation board and after considerable debate the final team was decided as follows:

  • H. M. Cameron                       Boxing
  • A. Dugeon                               Wrestler
  • W. Francis                              Swimmer (Team Captain)
  • D. McNab Robertson             Marathon
  • J. C. Stothard                          Half-mile, quarter mile and mile.
  • T. Ward                                  Wrestler
  • J. Watson                                Boxer
  • D. Young                                 Discus and weight putt
  • Miss Margot Hamilton          Swimmer
  • Miss M. McDowall                  Athlete, 100 and 220 yards

One outstanding issue related to the team was the ‘safety’ of the female competitors. As the minutes of 10 August 1937 reveal: “The selection of the two ladies was provisional on suitable arrangements being made to chaperone them throughout.” Initially, the wife of the manager of the Western Baths in Glasgow, Mrs Campbell, offered to travel to Sydney at her own expense. In the end, the role of female chaperone resided with the wife of the Scotland Team Manager Colonel Kenneth Whitton. Whitton, a retired Headmaster and originally from Dingwall, was secretary of the Scottish Amateur Wrestling Association. Whitton’s first task was to deal with an errant Edinburgh journalist Magnus Williamson who published the Scottish team in the Evening Dispatch before receiving the formal list from the SNSF, much to the annoyance of the editor of their rival local paper the Edinburgh Evening News. Williamson was black-balled from any future news briefing.

All the British teams travelled together on board the Ormonde and were under the supervision of the Sir James Leigh Wood (seen here in the Pathe newsreel), Commandant in Chief of the Teams” on board. The following Pathe Newsreel ‘Australia Bound shows the farewell to the teams from the quayside at London docks. The Scottish Team uniform was agreed with supplier J. C. Smith of Edinburgh and was as follows:

To be supplied by the Federation

  • Blazer and cricket cap in royal blue (beret for girls)
  • Blue hat bands to be taken by the Team Manager and suitable straw or other hats to be purchased by him in Australia.
  • Blue training suits, blue vests with Thistle badges in the centre.

To be supplied by the competitor

  • White trousers and skirts.
  • Men brown shoes. Girls white shoes.
  • Running shorts, swimming costume, running shoes, boxing and wrestling boots.

The formality of dinner at sea also required male competitors to bring Dinner Jackets and women to wear formal evening dress. The team were given a rousing send off at a dinner party held at the Liberal Club in Edinburgh, but their journey hit problems early on when the train to London arrived two hours late and they only just managed to board the liner at Tilbury. In the mad rush across London from Euston to St Pancras a bag containing the boxers equipment – including punchball and gloves – was left behind. As Whitton later recalled:

If Scotland’s Empire Games hopes left Edinburgh in high spirits it can be truthfully said that their entry into and departing from London were somewhat subdued.

The Scots joined the rest of the British contingent on route to the S.S. Ormonde, which was characterized by Whitton as “one of the homeliest and smallest of the Orient liners”. The passage through the Bay of Biscay was rough, and competitors were confined to their quarters for three days. Training on the liner mainly consisted of simple exercises under the supervision of the English boxing trainer and physical training instructor Joe Wilby. Efforts were made to keep the leisurely life the non-athlete passengers as normal as possible, but for one hour a day the athletes were allowed to use the deck to jog and sprint to maintain their fitness. For the most part competitors were kept out of direct sunshine, but young swimmer Margot Hamilton succumbed to sunstroke during the trip from Colombo to Freemantle. In Sydney the humidity was extremely high, and was followed by a plague of mosquitos with many of the Scottish team suffering from numerous severe bites. As Whitton later noted:

As a team we had not the best of luck before the Games. Graham and Miss McDowall suffered from strained leg muscles, Robertson from a poisoned finger, Watson a cut eye, Ward from boils, Miss Hamilton a foot injury, while Cameron and I suffered most from mosquito bites. But we were all in a fairly reasonable state of fitness when actual competition started.

The team itself performed poorly, either due to the heat and conditions, or because they were simply outclassed. Sprinter Peggy McDowall qualified for the semi-finals in both the 100 and 220 yards, but came last in both heats. Her lack of experience in international athletics had arguably gone against her, prior to the Games she had never competed outside of Scotland. Marathon runner Donald Robertson just missed out on a medal and came fourth, later revealing he suffered from insomnia after the race. “It takes twenty four hours from the time the race finishes for my body and thoughts to become normal again”, he confessed.

There disappointments too for boxers, wrestlers and swimmers, but Scotland did manage a few medals to cheer the team. Glaswegian policeman, David Young won silver in the discuss, William Francis won silver in the 110 yards backstroke and Margot Hamilton won bronze in the Women’s 110 yards backstroke. Boxer Jimmy Watson was arguably hard done by in the final of the Featherweight final, losing on points to a Ceylonese boxer. “How he lost on points”, Whitton reflected, “amazed more than his supporters”.

Scottish press reports had suggested the Scottish team had been treated poorly by their hosts. Whitton’s account begged to differ and his report tried to set the record straight. Male participants were accommodated in barracks at the Royal Agricultural Ground, while the two female competitors and their chaperone stayed at the Kirketon Hotel, some distance from the Empire Village and swimming pool where they would compete. The male quarters were noisy, and made sleep difficult, but the food and services were exceptional according to the Scottish team manager and the team were inundated with requests to visit different parts of Australia.

Whitton concluded:

Pay no attention to stories of wild scenes at Empire Village once the Games were over. The finish of all these big athletic gatherings is usually the occasion of hilarity on the part of the competitors. Damage was done to the cardboard wall partitions, but these were due to be stripped when the village came to be dismantled.

Some things never change!

NB Colonel Kenneth Whitton Team Managers cap features in our new exhibition, Hosts and Champions: Scotland in the Commonwealth Games currently running as part of the Art Collection at the University of Stirling. From 24 July – 3 August the exhibition we be part of Festival 2014 at the Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow.



George W. Ferguson and Scotland’s 1930 British Empire Games Team


The archive of Commonwealth Games Scotland includes the minutes of its predecessor the Scottish National Sports Federation, established in April 1931. Influential throughout its formative years was the Federations secretary, treasurer and general team manager George W. Ferguson. Captured in the centre of the photograph and looming large among the Scottish team, Ferguson came to prominence on the Scottish sporting scene as an administrator of Warrender Baths Club in Edinburgh, Scotland’s preeminent swimming club of the period – which would go on to foster a number of Scottish Commonwealth and Olympic champions, most famously David Wilkie in the 1970’s.

In the minutes, Ferguson comes across as the key driving force behind the organisation, planning and processes of the SNSF, especially regarding the fundraising needed to send a Scottish team to successive Games in Hamilton (1930), London (1934) and Sydney (1938). Ferguson was President of Warrender (1928-32) and the East District of the Scottish Amateur Swimming Association (1927-29), and subsequently became President of the Scottish Amateur Swimming Association in 1930. He was influential in ensuring swimming was included in Scotland’s team for the British Empire Games which included a number of Warrender swimmers.

The 1930 team was hurriedly put together with next to no financial resources, and heavily dependent on the generosity of the Canadian hosts in Hamilton. The photograph is one of a few surviving images of Scottish competitors at the inaugural British Empire Games of 1930. At this time, there was no overarching federation of Scottish sports associations, so a lot of trust and faith fell upon Ferguson who was one of Scotland’s most prominent amateur sports administrators of the era.


On 6th August 1930 the Scottish team consisting of 13 competitors, team officials, and Ferguson, left Liverpool on route to Montreal aboard the Cunard liner Andania. Two months earlier, the same liner had taken Glasgow Rangers across the Atlantic on a tour of North America, and now for eight days was home to the Scottish British empire Games team. Recalling the journey in 1970 athlete Dunky Wright remembered how the athletes kept fit during the cruise:

We were happy and excited at the thoughts of taking part in a pioneering adventure. The crew responded quickly to our mood and made a temporary swimming pool by stretching a huge tarpaulin across the hold with each corner fixed to an iron stanchion and filled with seawater. In it, the bonnie lasses of our swim team wiggled like tadpoles in a bowl right across the Atlantic. We all had our different ways of keeping in trim. For my part, I pounded round the top deck, taking the corners in the Charlie Chaplin manner, for a couple of hours each morning. The ‘heavies’ and the boxers did their training in the gym, encouraged by friendly passengers who were also willing to have a go.


Wright, one of Scotland’s most successful long-distance runners appearing in three Olympic Games (see, would go on to win gold in the marathon, and can be seen receiving his gold medal in the photograph above. In a strong field, Wright drew on the support of ex-patriot scots to spur him on to the finish line in a time of 2 hours, 43 minutes, 43 seconds:

Englishman Sam Ferris and Harry Payne, Canadian champion Johnny Miles and I raced in a tight bunch to the 15 mile mark. Then Sam Ferris and I went into a clear lead and battled it out neck and neck until we reached the streets of Hamilton which, fortunately for me, were lined by a wildly cheering Scottish crowd. I found extra strength from their encouragement and raced through to finish collapsing into the arms of a delighted George Ferguson.”

Canadian journalist and writer M. McIntyre Hood later recalled the moment Wright entered the Hamilton stadium and a rather unusual happening in international competitive sport:

 “After a lapse of 40 years, it is not possible to recapture in memory all of the thrilling moments of the 1930 Games, but a few still linger. Greatest of all is the memory of the tremendous ovation given to Scotland’s Duncan Wright as he entered the stadium to finish the gruelling marathon race, half a mile ahead of his nearest competitor, Ferris of England. Hamilton is noted as being a city with a predominance of Scots in its population. The ‘Hampden roar’ has nothing on the tremendous wave of cheering which arose as Duncan ran around the stadium. As he was passing the stadium entrance on his second lap, Ferris entered, and stopped to shake Dunky’s hand in congratulation before going on to take second place.

The celebrations of hosts and champion continued in to the night as Wright vaguely remembered:

 “From an indistinct memory, I recall that our celebration that night in Hamilton’s Royal Connaught Hotel lasted well into the ‘wee sma’ oors’.”


The only female representatives sent to the first Games in 1930 were Warrender swimmers Jessie McVey, Cissie Stewart and Jean McDowall, and former club member Ellen King. Women’s participation in sport during the inter-war period was thriving, as access to more disposable income and spare time increased. Nevertheless, to reach the pinnacle of a sport, such as swimming, female athletes had to work hard against a male-dominated administration of the sport, including at Warrender, where resistance to integrating women’s swimming in to the club, such as excluding them from the club’s gala, created a challenge to elite competition.


King, one of Scotland’s greatest swimmers of the period with multiple titles and records to her name, including two Olympic Silver medals in 1928, established Zenith Ladies Swimming Club in 1925 in response to the constraints on female competitive swimming at the time. In 1930, she won individual silver in the women’s 100 yard freestyle and bronze in the 200 yard breaststroke. She won a further bronze medal in the Scottish 4×100 yard relay team with Stewart, McDowell and McVey.

Scotland’s other medals in the Games included a silver for Willie Francis in the 100 yard backstroke, in boxing, gold for James Rolland (Lightweight), silver for Tommy Holt (Bantamweight) and bronze for Alex Lyons (Featherweight), and a bronze for the Scottish bowling fours. The Scottish bowling team – not present in the team photograph above – included a Canadian, Tom Chambers, who was brought in as a replacement for John Kennedy who sadly died in the United States during the journey to Hamilton. The Scottish bowls team was captained by Dr John Orr, who would become the SNSF’s first Chairman in 1931.

On return from Hamilton, Ferguson was appointed secretary of SNSF in 1931 and was immediately given the task of coordinating plans for the second British Empire Games in London. The 1934 Games were originally to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, but the Canadians had persuaded the English to host the Games amid fears the apartheid regime in South Africa would discriminate against African and Asian competitors. Ferguson was Team Commandant and from 1935 became the Honorary Secretary of the Scottish National Sports Federation, a position he held into the 1950’s.