History of Magic Clubs In Scotland

Rosyth Magic Circle

Rosyth Magic Circle was founded in 1955. The founder members were D.Lindsay and Mr Laurison.

The club only existed for just over a year. The story goes that the two members mentioned were members of Kirkcaldy Magic Circle and decided that due to the irregular local transport it would be easier for the Rosyth magicians to meet in Rosyth. Obviously the transport problem was solved and the members returned to the Kirkcaldy club.

SAMS Magazine Volume 4 number 1 page 3
Jim Craig.


Scottish Association of Magical Societies

The Scottish Association of Magical Societies is not a magical club as such. It is an association of all the magical clubs in Scotland. The Association held its first meeting in December 1951 in the North British Hotel in Edinburgh. Representatives from Paisley, Dundee, Kilmarnock, Kirkcaldy, Perth and Edinburgh Institute of Magicians attended.

The clubs would have been represented by Max Raskin, John Geddes, David Kelly, Jim Hynd, Ian Spark and David Law. This meant that the six clubs were the founders and not the members.

The objective of the association was to bring the clubs together and organise a magical convention. This happened within the first year.

The management of the association is that a President is elected each year along with a secretary, treasurer and assistant secretary. A convention committee is also elected whose duty is to organise the convention. Each club has two delegates who attend three meetings per year. It is at these meetings that the delegates advise the management committee of how their clubs view the activities of the association. Any major changes must go before the delegates. This ensures that the clubs control the association and not the management committee running the clubs.

To date (1999) the Association have organised forty eight conventions all over Scotland. In this time over one hundred lecturers have presented their skills, over four hundred magical and speciality acts have performed in the gala shows.

A number of trophies have been presented to the association.

McMillan Shield;
Harold McMillan 1952. Best stage act.

Max Raskin Cup;
Max Raskin 1952. Best Children’s act.

Cannon Trophy;
Sir Alexander Cannon 1957. Club which gains most points over the year. Points are awarded in competitions, and attendance at delegates meetings.

Fletcher Cup;
Duncan Fletcher 1961. Runner up to McMillan Shield.

Murray Wand;
Murray the Escapologist 1965. Awarded to a member of a Scottish club for Showmanship over the weekend.

Anne Warlock Cup;
Anne Warlock 1969. Best close-up act.

Ramsay Rose Bowl;
The Magicians Club, Coatbridge 1977. Best close-up effect in the Ann Warlock Cup.

Craig Quaich;
Jim Craig 1991. Presented by the President to the person he/she thinks has done most for Scottish magic.

Honorary President;
Sir Alexander Canno, Peter Warlock, Dr Eddie A. Dawes.

Honorary Life Vice-Presidents;
David Kidd, Duncan Fletcher, Robert Lees, Jim Craig, Ken McDonald.

The Association produced it's own magazine from March 1952 and continued till March 1974 when it was decided that the association could not justify the cost. The magazine contained reports of the conventions, competitions, information of all the clubs, historical information, special events and magical effects. With the introduction of desk top publishing it might now be practical to think again of a relaunching of the magazine.

The Association is still in operation and now has thirteen magical clubs affiliated (1999).

SAMS magazines
The First Ten Years of SAMS by June Leith.
The History of SAMS by J. Cuthbert.


Perth Magic Circle

Perth Magic Circle was formed in February 1950. The first meetings were held in the York House Hotel, Perth. The club name at that time was Perth Magical Society. This was changed to Perth Magic Circle in 1954.

The founder members included John Beattie President, Douglas Cunnison Vice President, Ian Spark Treasurer/Secretary, Dr.John Aitken, Jack Whittaker, Gordon Smith and Leslie Dunne. The membership fee was set at ten shillings.

When new members came to join the club they were allocated a tutor. It is recorded in the minutes that the first novice to join was a James Stewart who had Douglas Cunnison as his tutor.

The club was just up and running when they received a letter from Paisley Magic Circle (16th May 1950) proposing the setting up of the Scottish Association of Magical Societies. The club took up the proposal and was one of the original six. They had a fallout with SAMS related to the Association magazine but they did rejoin the Association some ten years later.

The club on its first year made a profit of two pounds twelve and six pence.

The club were stretching their wings by 1952 and offered their services to the Perth District Council in the form that they would perform magic for any Old Folks’ Group as part of the Coronation celebrations.

The shows organised for the old folks must have been a success as the club were soon invited to provide entertainment at Perth Prison. Nothing is recorded of whether it was the old folks who suggested they should go to Perth Prison or if some of the old folk wanted to see them a second time.

The club did agree that lady members would be welcomed. As far as records show no ladies have applied up to 1999.

The club has moved its meeting place around Perth. They started in York House Hotel and then moved on to Masonic Hall, Playhouse Cafe, 7 Atholl Crescent, the home of Peter Moffat, Perth Social and Leisure club, and Perth Prison Officers Club.

Hon. Vice Presidents;
Donald Bevan, David Nixon, Bayard Grimshaw.

Jack Whittaker, Gordon Smith, Douglas Cunnison, John Beattie, David Harley, Bill Dunlop and Ian Spark.

John Beattie, Peter Moffatt, Ian Dougall, Jim Imrie, Adrian Harris, Alistair Cowe.

The club’s reputation has been kept to the fore by Peter Moffatt who published effects in Abra, Gen, Magic Mirror and Pentagram, and by Adrian Harris as a magical dealer and collector of Jack Hughes’ props.

The club and members have won one competition organised by The Scottish Association of Magical Societies

Ramsay Rose Bowl;
Jim Imrie 1989

Presidents of SAMS;
Peter Moffat, Adrian Harris.

A Brief History of Perth Magic Circle by Adrian Harris.
Abracadabra 1993 Volume 96 Issue 2491 Page 486
Peter Moffat.
Perth Advertiser Feb 1950


Edinburgh Institute of Magicians

The Edinburgh Institute of Magicians was formed in 1948. The founder members included David Law, June Law, Captain Smith, John Marshall (Zanda) and Madam Rala(Ray Law).

The members made application to join the The Institute in London and were accepted.

There were three levels of membership 1 Fellowship which was awarded to performing magicians. 2 Membership to new member with a knowledge of magic but not regular performer. 3 Associate membership to those non-magician but interested in magic.

Bill McLeod the well known reinventor and maker of magical props was a member of the club at one time. He was to say later that he thought he was joining the Edinburgh Magic Circle.

The club closed its doors in 1961 shortly after the death of David Law.

Roy Scott
Bill McLeod
June Allan (June Law)


Ayr Academy Amateur Magic Circle

The Ayr Academy Amateur Magic Circle was formed in 1947 and met once a week in Ayr Academy. The members included Archie Smith, John Clark, Peter McCowatt, Hamish Keir, Alan Cairney, Jean Kerr and Wilma Reid.

Honorary President;
John Ramsay.

Once a year the circle organised their own convention when John Ramsay would present a lecture for the members and then all retired to the home of Archie Smith for tea.

Archie Smith
750 years of a Scottish School- Ayr Academy by John Strawhorn page 96