Murrayfield Ice Rink is a multi purpose venue located in the heart of Edinburgh with an impressive history dating back to 1938. The category B listed building was designed in the art deco style by architects J B Dunn and G L Martin 1938-39. In Britain there was a boom in ice rink construction with 27 ice rinks known to have been built between 1927-39 with only four surviving to the present day. A mini ice hockey hall of fame depicting many of the famous teams is located past the Shop to the left of the foyer area. To the right of the foyer area outside the cafe entrance there are pictures of several events and famous skaters who have been to the rink over the years. The Cafe has a photo montage and the Venue hire page has further photos of past events. Please scroll down to discover more about the unique history of Murrayfield Ice Rink.
The Rink was built during 1938 and early 1939 at a cost of £60,000 and was due to be opened on 15th September 1939 by the Earl of Rosebery, however, because of the outbreak of war on the 1st September and the government's ban on sport the planned opening was cancelled indefinitely with just a week's notice. The final touches had been applied to the building and it was ready to stage exhibitions by famous skaters of the day Freddie Tomlins & Daphne Walker at the opening ceremony. The new rink management also had to cancel all contracts with ice hockey players and the Government requisitioned the premises as a Royal Army Service Corp Depot. After the war up to 1951 it remained under the control of the Government being used as an HM Stationery Office store. See above for some of the proposed designs and a photo of the rink under construction.
Finally after a wait of 13 years and a number of building alterations, the Rink opened to the public in the first week of August 1952 as an Ice Arena. With the official opening ceremony being conducted by the then Lord Provost Sir James Miller. On Thursday 7th August the first public performance of Tom Arnolds presentation of 'Rose Marie on Ice' was given with over 4000 spectators which included directors from other Scottish Ice Rinks, representatives of the press and prominent business personalities.
1952 to 1956
The new venue, quoted in the press as being ‘The Most Modern Ice Rink in Scotland’, gave the people of Edinburgh their chance, not only to go skating on a regular basis but also to see a whole variety of events ranging from professional ice hockey, professional ice shows, amateur boxing and basketball. Crowds of 1000 skaters on a Friday and Saturday night were not uncommon and on one occasion in the spring of 1953, 5000 spectators attended an international amateur boxing tournament with 2000 having to be turned away!
Closure June 1956
With the passing of time however the operating Company found it harder and harder to attract the public to their core activities of ice hockey, large ice shows and skating and in June 1956 the shareholders of Murrayfield Ice Rink and Sports Stadium Ltd voted to put the company into voluntary liquidation.
New Owners 1957
Nearly a year later in March 1957 four enterprising Edinburgh businessmen, who had no experience whatsoever of running an ice rink, formed a new Company, bought the Rink, took over the reins and set about trying to find the right balance to make the Rink, considered by most people at the time to be a ‘white elephant’, a paying proposition.
1958 to 1970's
After an absence of two seasons professional ice hockey was quickly reintroduced as was ice dance and figure skating, curling and speed skating. The new owners main efforts concentrated on public skating, ice hockey, ice dance and figure skating, via the newly formed Murrayfield Ice Skating Club. Despite their best endeavors, the near capacity ice hockey crowds which rinks across the country had experienced began to dwindle, professional ice hockey became no longer viable and, by the start of the 60’s, British ice hockey had entered a new ‘amateur’ phase which was to remain for nearly 20 years. The famous Murrayfield Royals finally disappeared from the British Ice hockey scene to be replaced by the future record setting Murrayfield Racers and the owners concentrated on the development of young local players to fill the roster.
Commonwealth Games July 1970
In 1970 the City of Edinburgh played host to the first Commonwealth games to be held in Scotland with Murrayfield being the chosen venue for the Boxing Tournament. John Conteh at 19 won the middle weight Gold medal for England and local boy 23 year old Tom Imrie won the light middle weight Gold medal for Scotland in a passion filled arena. The closing ceremony was also held at the Rink for the 42 participating nations on the 25 July.