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A Brief History of the Journal

The SMC was founded in 1889. One of its founders, Joseph Gibson Stott, argued for the presence of a Club Journal, in which information about the Scottish hills could be conveniently recorded and circulated. It seems amazing now, in its 111th year, that Stott had a hard time convincing a pilot meeting of its viability and even desirability.

The arguments against were mainly that Scotland was too small to be able to provide more than a few numbers of the Journal, while Stott maintained (for the first time he believed) that there were at least 300 mountains in Scotland whose height exceeded 3,000 feet. Luckily for us, Stott won the day and became its first Editor, the first of 13 to date, counting the current incumbent (Peter Biggar).

Of interest to readers may be the fact that in those far-off days before word processing on fast computers, the Journal was published three times a year, in January, May and September. This continued until 1918, when the harsh economies of the First World War imposed a reduction to two issues per year. From 1942 onwards, the Journal was published annually.

Stott emigrated to New Zealand, having published seven numbers, the task being taken over by William Douglas in 1892. A lover of the hills, and equally sympathetic to walkers and mountaineers, Douglas (after whom the Douglas Boulder on Ben Nevis is named) continued as Editor for nearly 18 years, producing 53 issues. It was during his reign that the Axes and Rope logo of the Club first appeared on the cover of the Journal, in January 1898.

One very important project carried out by Douglas was the publication, in the Journal, of the first SMC Guide Book. This ran from 1901 to 1907 and was the precursor of the now familiar and popular series of separately published SMC Guides. Douglas handed over the Journal to Frank Sidney Goggs who began in 1910 and maintained its publication through the difficult war years before retiring in 1920. Douglas had passed on to Goggs the early embargoes on both foreign articles and poetry, restrictions which have long been lifted, though the Journal continues to emphasise both its Scottish content and its insistence on a high standard of mountain poetry.

Those wishing to learn more about the SMC Journal, and good writings on Scottish Mountaineering, are recommended to consult a copy of 'A Century of Scottish Mountaineering.'

To help promote writing on Scottish Mountaineering, and as a fitting memorial to W.H. Murray, who died in 1996, in 1998 we began the W.H. Murray Literary Prize. The winning articles are made available freely on the website.

A final note. 2000 saw the publication of the Journal with a glorious, photographic cover. A few traditionalists may weep quietly over the old blue cover, but it never stood out on a bookshelf. We hope you like its new look.


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