Curling came to Norfolk with Elisabeth Childs. As the daughter of Jack Calder, who curled in Utica, New York for over fifty years, Elisabeth was exposed to the game at an early age. Elisabeth moved to Norfolk and married Ted Childs in 1951. With the cooperation of Jack Calder, Ted and Elisabeth and a small group of friends began curling in Norfolk. Through the kindness of the Farmington Curling Club several sets of used curling stones were brought to Norfolk and during the winter months of 1954-55 and 1955-56 games were played on Tamarack Pond and Tobey Pond.
During the pond curling era there were about twenty hardy men and women that braved the weather and pond ice conditions to enjoy playing matches as often as they could. The first organized meeting of the Norfolk Curling Club was held on February 26, 1956. It was decided to build a curling shed so that games could be played inside on a more regular basis. In the autumn of 1956 the Norfolk Curling Club became a member of the Grand National Curling Club (GNCC) with seventeen charter members. They also start construction on the first curling shed that autumn and were able to finish in just a short couple of months. By the time curling got underway in the winter of 1957 membership totaled 46 men and 18 women.
The first curling club building contained two sheets of ice in a wooden shed resembling a tobacco barn, with openings in the walls to allow cold air in to help keep the natural ice playing surface. At one end there was also an attached warm room, small kitchen and bathrooms. The first curling inside the shed took place on January 1, 1957. In the autumn of 1958 artificial ice making machinery was installed and a lounge with bar was added, making it possible to host Norfolk’s first Men’s Invitational Bonspiel in December 1958. In 1959 new curling stones were purchased to replace the original secondhand stones that had been used since the early days of pond curling.
In 1967 Ted Childs from Norfolk, representing the GNCC, and Ross Tarlton from Ontario, Canada, representing the Ontario Curling Association (OCA), established the Ross Tarlton International Bonspiel. This competition between clubs from the GNCC and the OCA was conceived as a way to meet more fellow curlers and to promote friendly competition between these two curling associations. The bonspiel is hosted by a different club each year with its location alternating between the U.S. and Canada.
During the GNCC’s Centennial years of 1966-68, Norfolk’s Ted Childs and Darrell Russ served as President and Secretary respectively of the GNCC. Ted and Darrell were again President and Secretary of the United States Men's Curling Association in 1969-70.
By 1971 the wooden ice shed was falling apart and members were looking for better curling conditions that did not include openings in the walls where snow and dust could affect the playing surface. In the autumn of 1971 the old wooden ice shed was demolished and a new insulated metal building was constructed. A new locker room was added while the original warm room, kitchen, bar and bathrooms continued to be used.
In December 2011 the unthinkable happened. The Norfolk Curling Club was a victim of arson and the entire club building was destroyed by fire. Everything was lost, from the building to the stones to the trophies, plaques and memorabilia. The stones got so hot that when water was being sprayed to attempt to stop the fire they all cracked or exploded.
Club members as well as curlers world-wide were devastated by the news. Club members were determined to rebuild. With the support of Norfolk residents, many friends and other curling clubs, and many long hours of hard work by dedicated club members, a new curling facility was designed and built. Work on the new facility began in September 2012 and construction was completed in October 2013.
The new Norfolk Curling Club facility consists of two new ice sheets, new ice-making equipment, and compared to the old building, a much expanded warm room, kitchen, lounge and bar as well as separate men’s and women’s locker rooms and bathrooms. Much thought went into designing a facility with viewing in mind. Large plate glass windows in the warm room and bar as well as video monitors in both rooms allow curling action to be enjoyed from almost every part of the building.
Most of the rebuilding work was performed by a building contractor, but many club members and local volunteers had a hand in working on the new club, most notably the fine boardwalk, scoreboards and club signs in the ice rink, as well as the beautifully finished lounge and bar area. From the finely detailed bar top to the handmade tables in the warm room and bar to the video monitors mounted on the walls to the sign over the front door, plus many other details within the facility, it is plain to see that there is strong dedication and commitment to not only continue curling in Norfolk, but to make the facility one of the finest two-sheet clubs to be found anywhere in the world. The new building is up to date, with a commercial kitchen, large and comfortable viewing areas, state of the art ice making for excellent curling ice, even allowing for wheelchair curlers, but history runs deep as is seen by the many old club pictures and even the remains of a few pieces of the original curling stones incorporated into the front entrance and stone fireplace.
Our club has been home to many fine curlers over the years, some of which have represented Norfolk on a national competitive level. During the 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's teams from Norfolk have won their way into the U.S. Men's National Championships, U.S. Senior Men's National Championships, U.S. Mixed National Championships and U.S. Junior National Championships. In 1985, the Men's team of Jody Law, George Dyer, Chris Ocain and Ricky Law came in third in the country. Also in 1985, the Senior Men’s team of Jay Pilbin, Darrell Russ, Tommy Spada and Harry Williams did very well, winning the 2nd Event in that competition. Two teams representing the Norfolk Curling Club were part of the historic back to back wins in the Gordon International Bonspiel in Montreal in 2015 and in the greater Boston area in 2016.
From October to April, in addition to regular league curling throughout the week, the Norfolk Curling Club hosts well-attended men's, women's and mixed bonspiels with clubs in attendance from all over the East Coast, and occasionally the Midwest and Canada. Junior curling continues to be part of the club to get children exposed to the sport at an early age. In the early years of the club, members were primarily from Norfolk and surrounding towns, but in recent years members have come from throughout Connecticut, western Massachusetts and eastern New York.
As a non-profit organization the club works hard to promote the sport of curling by offering educational opportunities for a wide variety of groups, such as schools, corporate retreats and the general public. In recent years the club has started a public night once a month on Fridays for interested inhabitants of the surrounding area to come to the bar and learn about the sport while the mixed league plays out on the ice. The Norfolk Curling Club consists of 115 members ranging from Full, Associate, Plate Glass, and Young Adult. Full time curlers total 55 Men, 22 Women, and 3 Young Adult curlers.
The Norfolk Curling Club will be celebrating its sixtieth anniversary in 2016. From pond curling to several variations of buildings to a completely rebuilt and beautiful facility the Norfolk Curling Club has survived. With the dedication of the membership, support from other curlers throughout the world and the support from the local community the club looks forward to curling and making memories in Norfolk for many years to come.