Centenary of a Royal Visit

Souvenir programmeAs events in Europe moved ever closer to war, preparations for a happy occasion in Linlithgow are revealed in the Town Council minutes.

“The Provost reported that he had received intimation … that Their Majesties the King and Queen were to honour the Burgh by a visit on Saturday 11th July next …,” Minutes of meeting of the Town Council of the Royal Burgh of Linlithgow, 14th April 1914. A Special Committee was appointed to “attend to all necessary arrangements in connection with the Royal Visit.” and the minutes of their meetings in June and July reveal these detailed preparations.

The Committee oversaw the construction of barricades to maintain public order and, in response to his request, granted the chief Constable the use of the Victoria Hall “for the purpose of feeding the Police brought in to assist the local force”. The Linlithgow Station and District Ambulance Society were provided with a Headquarters in the Masonic Hall and turned out four squads of four men each. The Committee agreed that the Magistrates robes should be sent to Messrs Pullar & Co. Ltd to be cleaned and repaired after the Marches Day and the Burgh Officer was authorised to obtain a new uniform from Mr George Anderson, Tailor, Linlithgow.

The minutes state “About Decorations, the Committee are of opinion that Their Majesties should be enabled to see the Town very much as it is, but that an appeal should be made to the General Public to decorate their houses in a simple tasteful fashion.” However, more work went into preparing other buildings in the Burgh. The Council assisted with the cost of cleaning the Parish Church. Bailies Dymock and Wardrop organised the decoration of the Town Hall Stair Case, a task made easier by the loan of plants from Mr W.M. Richard of Clarendon and Mr William Dougall of Rockville, as well as the help of their gardeners. Flags of the Trade Incorporations in the Burgh were also displayed from the windows of the Town Hall.

Representatives of the Burgh were selected for presentation to their Majesties in the Parliament Hall of the Palace. Seats in the Hall were reserved for about 200 people with some official position in the County and Burgh, and the Committee agreed the order for the issue of tickets. Further spaces were allocated in the Ladies Gallery and a range of other locations including the Council Chambers, Burgh Court Room and even the South Windows in the Town Hall (“4 persons for each window”)!

Arrangements were also made for the official press including the Glasgow News, the Linlithgowshire Gazette and West Lothian Courier, along with photographers including Mr Haddow of Lizars & Co., and Pathe’s Animated Gazette.

On the day, the crowds greeting the Royal Party included more than 900 school children and their teachers from Linlithgow Public School and the Academy. The children were in their places in the Kirkgate and Palace Yard “by 3 o’clock pm prompt”. They were presented with a commemorative medal by Mr and Mrs Hope of Bridgecastle and also given refreshments by Mr and Mrs Cadell of Grange. Entertainment was provided by Bathgate Public Prize Band in the Palace Yard and Kinneil Reed Band at the Cross, with Mr Robert Cassels acting as Musical Director. In addition, town and church bells were rung.

Evidently, the event was “a splendid success”. The minute of 16th July reads “The Committee now beg to put on record the great satisfaction of the Community that the most welcome visit of their Majesties the King and Queen, accompanied by Her Royal Highness Princess Mary, which took place on Saturday last, had enabled the Burgh to renew its old time association with the Royal Family, and to demonstrate again its ardent loyalty to the Throne.” The minutes also provide a detailed record of thanks from the Committee “to one and all who in any way assisted in the successful carrying out of this memorable function.”

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@WW1WestLothian

8 peterjackAs part of the First World War centenary, West Lothian Council Archives has created a real-time historical twitter feed which will offer a unique insight into life in West Lothian during the First World War. The twitter feed was launched on the official centenary of the start of the war and will run for 4 years with the project end coinciding with the end of the war on the Western Front in 1918. The tweets will be based on local newspaper coverage and records from the council’s archives.

In 2015, followers will be given a chance to glimpse beyond the home-front experience as the tweets draw in entries from Private Peter Jack’s diary which was penned in 1915-1916.

Follow @WW1WestLothian and learn about West Lothian’s war-time experience in real-time.