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Records of Scottish Gymnastics

Identifier: Coll-1842

Scope and Contents

This archive comprises the records of Scottish Gymnastics, including: governance records; records relating to administration; material relating to competitions and events; promotion and publicity material; publications; photographs and scrapbooks; audiovisual content in VHS and DVD format, and artefacts including shields, trophies and medals.


  • Creation: 1890-2017


Conditions Governing Access

The material is available subject to the usual conditions of access to Archives and Manuscripts material. Some files are closed and cannot be accessed. Some files are restricted and require a Data Protection or restricted access form to be completed in order to access them. Some files are in formats which are not currently accessible. Navigate down the hierarchy for further details.

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the Head of Special Collections.

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents.

Biographical / Historical

The Scottish Amateur Association of Gymnastics, Wrestling and Boxing, as it was originally named, was founded as a voluntary organisation on 24 May 1890 by representatives of five Scottish gymnastics and athletic clubs. Prior to this, gymnastics in Scotland had a clear link with the British military, specifically the Army Physical Training Corps. Later, the 22 clubs affiliated under the Scottish Amateur Gymnastics Association, as it became known, was split into three smaller district associations in order to create new competitions and training structures. The new districts were Eastern, (including Edinburgh and Leith) Western, (including Glasgow) and Dundee District (which incorporated Dundee and Aberdeen). The first Scottish Gymnastics competition was held on the 10th April 1891 in Kinnaird Hall, Dundee, under the auspices of the first president, Walter McGregor. Following the success of this, a three nations competition (which later became known as the Celtic Cup) was held. The prize was a shield provided by William Adams ('the Adams Shield'). Scotland won this shield five times between 1900 and 1908. Individual champions were awarded the silver Challenge Cup by Honorary President John Martin White, a founding member of the Association.

Following the First World War, the Association began to distance itself from the more militarised aspects of sports. The formation of autonomous governing bodies allowed for gymnastics to become a sport in its own right. The 1920s saw changes in the rules for gymnastic competitions and the increased participation of women, boosted by the British women's team winning all-round team bronze at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympic Games. In 1938, the women competed in a vault event, from which they had previously been excluded, for the first time. However, as the Second World War approached, all national championships were discontinued and the Association again became associated with militarised applications of gymnastics.

Between the 1950s and the 1970s there was a great increase in the number of people involved in the sport. Various women's competitions were added, including the beam and asymmetic bar competitions in 1950, which made the sport more accessible to female participants. A national display team was also established. The introduction of acrobatic gymnastics in the 1960s laid the foundation for sports acrobatics, which became formalised in 1973. A committee for Sports Acrobatics in Scotland was formed in 1979. In 1978, Scotland sent their first full team of gymnasts to the Edmonton Commonwealth Games, a first for a world-level competition.

Participant numbers continued to grow during the 1980s, a period in which the Association relocated to Edinburgh for the first time, and also took over ownership of the first dedicated facility in Scotland, based in Falkirk, for aspiring gymnasts looking to progress their skills. Along with this, the Scottish Gymnastics Association followed British Gymnastics in the establishment of a Schools' Association in order to provide the opportunity for children of all ages and abilities to participate in gymnastics. Competitions and showcases were introduced such as the first "Gymfest" in 1985. The pre-school 'GYMTED' programme was also established around this time. The Edinburgh and East district also gained a separate Rhythmic Gymnastics committee.

The Association's Centenary year in 1990 heralded a number of events across Scotland to showcase the legacy of gymnastics, including an iconic car marathon fundraiser in Perth, a centenary Gymfest (also in Perth), an acrobatics invitational competition in Glasgow and the European Special Olympics in the Strathclyde region. The increased funding from partners and sponsors around this time enabled the selection of a national team of gymnasts to represent Scotland at the 1990 Auckland Commonwealth Games as well as a team being sent to the World School Games in Bruges for the first time. Following successes at both of these competitions, Robert Callahan MBE established a Northern European Championship structure to enable Scottish gymnasts to compete in an international competition without the dominance of highly successful English teams. In 1993 the Scottish veterans’ competition structure was created, in order to allow older gymnasts to become involved in the sport. In 1994 Louise Martin became the first female president of the Association and head of the council. In the same year, Joanne Walker won Scotland’s first medal at the Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Canada. The West of Scotland Institute for Sport was officially opened by Sportscotland at Inverclyde in 1995 to give top-level gymnasts access to world-class facilities. Scotland's School for Sport at Bellahouston, which opened in 1999, brought the world's premier coaches to Scotland. These increases in involvement and strategic development secured the Association award-winning governing body status in 1998.

The 1990s also saw Scottish Gymnastics alter its organisational structure. Following its 1997 AGM, it formed two limited companies and employed its first Chief Executive Officer, Mike Roberts. This enabled the organisation to access lottery grants, British Sports Council and Sportscotland funding and to expand its programmes in line with those already established by British Gymnastics.

In 2000, Edinburgh hosted the first Commonwealth Youth Games, with a gymnastics competition being held at Meadowbank stadium. This was the first event to host three disciplines on the floor simultaneously, with Men’s, Women’s and Rhythmic gymnastics sharing the space. The Scottish Men’s artistic gymnastics team gained success at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England and at the 2004 Commonwealth Youth Games in Bendigo, both the Men's and Women's teams secured bronze and Adam Cox won an individual all-round Gold medal and an ‘Athlete of the Games’ nomination. At the 2002 Games, Steve Frew took gold in the men's rings at the age of 28, which was the first gymnastics Commonwealth Games Gold medal for Scotland.

The Scottish Schools gymnastics programmes became a major part of the organisation's development plan during the 2000s, with around 250 schools in Scotland running some level of gymnastics training, affiliated to British Gymnastics. In 2007 the Scottish Gymnastics PE Teachers Award was launched, with a view to developing young children’s access to extra-curricular sports. A new awards scheme was launched in 2010 with additional levels of skill progression and encouraging involvement from people from other sport disciplines. In 2011 ‘freestyle gymnastics’ was launched in the UK, creating partnerships with dance and cheerleading bodies.

In 2012, Sportscotland invested £350,000 in the expansion of the Inverclyde Institute for Sport in order to commemorate the lifelong support given by Ex-National Coach, Gordon Forster. The expansion of facilities at Inverclyde and Bellahouston alongside the employment of world-class coaches formed strong Scottish teams for both national and international events including the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, the 2015 World Gymnaestrada in Helsinki and the 2015 World Gymnastics Championships in Glasgow. At the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Dan Purvis and Dan Keatings won gold, and the men’s team clinched a historic silver.

After moving offices between Falkirk and Airthrey Castle in Stirling, Scottish Gymnastics is now based in Edinburgh.


Walter McGregor (1890-1923)

David Scott (1923-1936)

William C Cairns (1936-1949)

Robert Laing (1949-1953)

James Taylor (1953-1956)

Iain M. Clegg (1956-1962)

Bill Engelan (1962-1971)

Raymond Richards (1971-1974)

James Livingstone (1974-1976)

Simon Fraser (1976-1978)

Jack Milroy (1978-1981)

Alex Strachan (1981-1987)

David C. Watt (1987-1993)

Louise Martin (1994-1999)

Lynn Milne (1999-?)

Chief Executive Officers

Mike Roberts (1997-?)


Scottish Gymnastics History: Accessed 10 January 2018.


15 linear metres (13 'A' boxes; 5 'D' outsize boxes; 17 outsize lidded boxes; 5 items freestanding or on open shelving.)


The original order of the collection has been maintained and arranged into eight series which reflect the major activities of the creator over the years.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Scottish Gymnastics in two accessions: SC-Acc-2017-0160 (August 2017) and SC-Acc-2018-0066 (May 2018).


Further accruals possible.

Separated Materials

Scottish Gymnastics' collection of rare books, which formed part of the original donations, has been separated and now forms part of a sequence in Edinburgh University Library's Rare Books collection.

Processing Information

Catalogue created as part of the Wellcome Trust Research Resources-funded project 'Body Language: movement, dance and physical education in Scotland, 1890-1990’.

Clare Button
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379