Bain of Harrismith

My granny Annie had an older brother Ginger. He was the oldest of the seven ‘Royal Bains’ and a great sportsman. They owned the Royal Hotel and they were ‘Royal’ so as not to be confused with the ‘Central Bains’, who owned the Central Hotel! As fishermen from the tiny hamlet of Wick on the more freezing end of Scotland, they couldn’t really claim the traditional ‘Balmoral Castle’ kind of royalty.

Playing rugby for Hilton, ‘Bain of Harrismith’ became the bane of Michaelhouse in the first rugby game between these two toffee-nosed schools, where vaguely bored and lazy shouts of ‘a bit more pressure in the rear, chaps!’ are heard through the gin fumes surrounding the rugby fields.

Here’s the report on the 1904 derby – the first game between the two schools:

Hilton Ginger Bain_2
– reprinted in the 1997 Hilton vs Michaelhouse sports day brochure –  

Drop goals were four points and tries were three in those distant days. I like that the one side was “smarter with their feet” . . and that being smarter with your feet was better than “pretty passing.”

A century later these rugby genes would shine again as Bain’s great-great-grandson – grandnephew actually – also whipped Michaelhouse.

I’ve included a lovely picture of the Michaelhouse scrum on top.


Rugby in Harrismith was full of Bains and Blands, seven in this team:

1921 Rugby Team Bains Blands
– Ginger also captained the Harrismith A Polo team –



Handwritten on the edge of one of these is “He wasn’t ill at all. (illegible) just found him (illegible) “


6 thoughts on “Bain of Harrismith

  1. Pingback: Bit More Pressure in the Rear, Chaps – Bewilderbeast Droppings

  2. Very interesting. Found this blog while making updates to my family tree. Stewart Bain of Harrismith was named after my 2nd great grandfather, Stewart Bain who was drowned in 1853.


    • Great! Katrina Duncan was doing the same when she found this blog. She’s on – I’d love to see what you have. Search on my blog under BAIN – I’ve written a few posts on the family’s Harrismith, Free State, South Africa descendants. Katrina’s in Scotland, where are you?


      • Live in England, although I was born in Caithness. Reply directly to my email address and I can give you some more info.


  3. Pingback: Polo in Harrismith – Vrystaat Confessions

  4. Pingback: Random Ancestors – #1 Ginger Bain – Vrystaat Confessions

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