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Rinking ~
Roller Skating in Edwardian Aberdeen 1909 ~

Every era has its social crazes and the Edwardian era was no exception.  The 1st decade of the 1900’s saw our Edwardian ancestors go through periods of mass enthusiasm for postcard collecting, for Ping Pong, for Diablo Juggling, and for Roller Skating (which they referred to as ‘Rinking’).

1876: William Brown in Birminhgham patented a design for the wheels of roller skates. Brown's design embodied his effort to keep the 2 bearing surfaces of an axle, fixed and moving, apart. Brown worked closely with Joseph Henry Hughs, who drew up the patent for a ball or roller bearing race for bicycle and carriage wheels in 1877. Hughes' patent included all the elements of an adjustable system. These 2 men are thus responsible for modern day roller skate and skateboard wheels, as well as the ball bearing race inclusion in velocipedes -- later to become motorbikes and automobiles. This was arguably, the most important advance in the realistic use of roller skates as a pleasurable pastime.


Telegraph LONDON, November 26. 1909
The roller skating craze has been largely revived in many parts of Great Britain, and' has afforded employment to as many as 17,000 clerks, attendants, and mechanics.


In 1909 an explosion of interest in Roller Skating took place.




Only basic instructions were proffered -




In 1909 there was a phenomenal craze for roller-skating - or rinking as it was known.


The pastime had been evident in the UK from the 1870s.  Following the introduction of the 1st rink in 1869 at Rhode Island (USA). Roller-skating then went in decline but regained popularity in 1880, and again in 1909.


Rinks were appearing everywhere, and a specialist newspaper 'Rinking World Journal' catered for the followers of this fashion. Ephemera in the form of comic postcards, photographic and printed images and Cinema followed on from the Rinking craze.

There was a World Professional Roller Skating Championship held across Britain in February
1909, with heats in Liverpool, Belfast, Bradford, Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and Glasgow under the auspices of the National Skating Association. The last heat took place in Edinburgh on 26th February with races over 1 mile, or six and a half laps of the rink. Prize money was £150 and a trophy was given to the winner. 4000 spectators witnessed the proceedings.  The final was held in London. (27th February, 1909, Scotsman)

9th October 1909, The Bon Accord Skating Rink, roller skating rink proprietors in Aberdeen.


6th November 1909, Aberdeen Olympia, roller skating proprietors in Aberdeen.


18th December 1909, Torry Skating Palace Company, to acquire the building and property of the roller skating rink at Torry, Aberdeen.



Moss’ Empires Ltd who owned theatres across Britain was one of the companies affected by roller skating and its takings and profits were hit. 64 skating rinks had been established in twelve locations where Moss Empires conducted business in 1909. The management viewed the phenomenon as a temporary one and predicted that business would recover. (Company statement, Scotsman 16th February 1910)


Across the whole of Scotland in 1911, the collapse of roller-skating was occurring. All notices were published in the Scotsman 1911.


A roller skating rink has been opened in Forbesfield Road, Aberdeen. The building is 260 feet long and 115 feet wide with a skating area of 220 feet by 75 feet. There is a promenade all round 10 feet wide at the sides and extending to 20 feet at the ends. The plans were prepared by Mr John Rust, City Architect, and the total cost of the building has been upwards of £4,000. [Builder 9 October 1909]  The initial report in the Builder claimed that the Rink would be capable of skating 5,000 people at once and would also accommodate 5,000 spectators. Given the dimensions as built, these figures would seem over-optimistic. 

John Rust
was born in Aberdeen on 19 November 1844, the son of John Rust, timber merchant, and his wife Margaret Robinson and was articled to John Russell Mackenzie c.1860, and remained as an assistant, commencing practice on his own account sometime before 1875. Having secured election to the Aberdeen Town Council, he resigned his seat in 1892 in order to apply for the post of City Architect, William Smith II having died in the previous year. He secured the appointment and held it until his death on 25 September 1919. In later years he was also JP for Kincardineshire, and the City of Aberdeen.
John Rust died suddenly when on his way to work. He was twice married and was survived by a widow and a family of four daughters by the first marriage and one by the second. He left moveable estate of £5,291 10s 11d. 

8th November, 1911, advert for a Roller Skating Rink for sale in Forbesfield Road, Aberdeen with right to dismantle and remove. Cost when built in 1909 between £4000 and £5000.  It became Garage premises


Woodside  Rinkie - Picture Palace 407 Great Northern Road
The Liquidator, James Albert Hadden, Solicitor, Aberdeen, hereby calls a General Meeting of the Company for 10th March 1913, at 4 o'clock afternoon, within his Office, 25 Union Terrace, Aberdeen, for the purpose of submitting his account and report of the winding up of the Company.
5th March 1913.
The Cinema opened 1912 in the old Roller Skating Rink of 1909.  It was closed by, or soon after, 1923.  It then became a Garage, then a Warehouse,  Cheyne's Fish Shop and Reception Rooms, formerly one of the earliest Cinemas in Aberdeen.  Near the White Horse Bar.


So before 1911 was out, roller skating within indoor rinks was at an end throughout Scotland.

It had with such a frenzy having caught the publics imagination
but proved to be very a short lived fad. The Cinematographic phenomena which replaced it proved to be a far more enduring entertainment.


Arcade Skating Rink - roller skating, 431 Union Street.
The Electric Cinema 431 Union street Opened 29th August 1910 
Arcade Motor Garage, Ltd., 431 Union Street and 12 Justice Mill Lane


In the 1930s roller skating was a still popular pastime and the Music Hall was converted to a roller skating rink. In January 1931 an attempt was made on the world marathon non-stop roller skating title. The holder gave up after only a few hours because of blistered feet. Rather than disappoint the audience, Hadyn Marshall, the professional manager of the Rink, accompanied by an amateur skater, Robert Bruce, took up the challenge. Just before midnight on Saturday 17 January, Robert Bruce became the new World Amateur Marathon Roller Skating Champion with a time of 61 hours 36 minutes – a record still standing. 

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Last modified: 01/09/2013