The John Rattray Statue, designed by sculptor David Annand, stands on Leith Links Edinburgh, a public park, formerly Common Good Land, used for many activities including golf. The statue is a freestanding public sculpture, in bronze, recognising John Rattray, signatory to the first recorded Rules of Golf from which all subsequent Rules are derived including today’s Rules. The statue was commissioned by Leith Rules Golf Society (LRGS) in 2018.
The statue of John Rattray addressing a golf ball, stands on a raised turf mound representing a golf tee. David Annand thinks of his ‘statues’ as sculpture and likes to remove them from any elevating plinth making the landscape itself the plinth. Rattray faces up the original first hole of the 18thCentury course in a landscaped precinct designed by award-winning WJ Cairns Associates. The precinct includes raised mounds planted with marram grasses and maritime floral species replicating the rough terrain of an 18th century links course. Explanatory bronze plaques inset in three stone pillars complete the precinct. The plaques tell the Rattray ‘story’, the Original 13 Rules and acknowledge major donors.
With many commissions, David Annand finds himself on a fascinating learning curve about historic characters and their lives. No pictorial record of John Rattray existed, but David Annand used a likeness from etchings of Thomas Rattray, John’s father and Rattray’s elder brother, James. Research was carried out on how 18th century golfers dressed, clubs used and the address of the ball. David Annand has accurately captured all these aspects including the Balmoral bonnet complete with pom-pom.
The statue and precinct is a tourist draw and is proving popular with visitors for ‘selfies’. Contact has been made with tour operators encouraging visits to the site. In addition, LRGS gives talks to schools and community groups. Now donated with a transfer fee to City of Edinburgh Council., they have assumed responsibility for long-term maintenance of statue & site.
Our thanks to the many organisations like the City of Edinburgh Council and its supportive departments and staff, our many project advisors, our golf connections and other supporters. The cost of site works and the bronze statue were raised only from private donations. In addition to the listing of significant donors on the plinth 'John Rattray Project', here is a document of all donors.
David Anderson and 'Golf and Thistle'
The Society is very grateful to David Anderson, who is well-known for resurrecting the 1920s Kingarrock Hickory Golf Course near Cupar for the National Trust of Scotland, for Bronzes sales which have made a significant contribution to funding the installation and maintenance of the Rattray Statue. We hope further sales will support the aim of the Society in the future.
2006 - Initial discussions with City of Edinburgh Council for a statue of John Rattray on Leith Links.
2010 - With Society approval at the January 2010 AGM, by March 2010, the Society had formed the Statue Committee to achieve the project’s goals and raise necessary £150,000 funds. The Committee then was Pat Denzler (Chair), Douglas Foulis, Bill Cairns, Lionel Freedman, Mike Towers, Sir Charles Fraser and David Kay. There was support of Society plans from both Leith residents and local Councillors Thomas, Munro and Rob Munn as well as Martin Macaulay of North Edinburgh Neighbourhood team and Paul Devaney of City Planning Department.
2013 - The Council granted planning permission in respect of the statue on 18 April 2013. However, the Council realised a Private Bill in the Scottish Parliament was necessary to enable a statue of John Rattray to be erected on Leith Links. This would take the Society beyond its original preferred project start date in 2013 in time for The Open at Muirfield. After considerable effort and expense by the Council together with detailed Parliamentary scrutiny, the bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 18th February 2014. The Act received Royal Assent on 27th March 2014.
2014 - In July 2014, the Society's fundraising campaign was officially launched and continued until 2020; early offers of important financial support to the Statue Committee were firmed up. Award-winning landscape consultants WJ Cairns & Associates were retained for project management and final design.
2018 - The Society commissioned the Statue to be made at Powderhall Bronze Ltd of Leith. Its artisans are experts in sculpture, metal working and engineering to create this high quality bronze sculpture, achieved by combining traditional lost-wax casting techniques with modern materials.
2019 - After nearly 10 years of fund-raising from Society events, personal and corporate donations and support from many golf clubs and societies, there was a final push of fundraising, particularly for landscaping works. The Unveiling Ceremony was discussed with The Honourable Company and it was agreed, it should coincide, if possible whilst many golfing visitors were close by, with its own 275th Anniversary Celebrations at Muirfield. The date chosen was 11th September 2019.
2020 - Handover of Statue and Precinct grounds to the Council with a maintenance sum.