Picturesquely situated and beautifully laid out, were the grounds of Milheugh House, High Blantyre admirably suited for the Summer garden fete held on Saturday 28th August 1915. With funds raised on behalf of Blantyre Cottage Hospital, this fete was to lift spirits as the people of Blantyre endured a further year of the first World War. What a day it turned out to be. Please read on to see what was on offer!
Mr and Mrs Bannatyne, who had kindly thrown open the grounds for the occasion, had spared no effort to make everything pleasant and comfortable for the large company of visitos. A scheme of decorations had also been carried out with artistic effect by Messrs Brown, Lockhart, and Hastie. But, alas! the best laid plans “gang aft agley.” (Scots for things often go wrong, even with planning in place). The great desideratum for an outdoor function is good weather, and unfortunately this was denied to the fete. A falling barometer and dull skies presaged the coming rain, which began to fall shortly after the proceedings opened, and continued in more or less steady downpour all afternoon. Still the large company, though damp and sodden, was not downhearted, bat engaged with a wonderful zest and enthusiasm in the many games, competitions, etc., provided for their enjoyment, while others visited the beautiful gardens or made a round of the various stalls on which were displayed for sale choice collection of fruit, flowers, sweets, etc.
Worthy of special mention were the war trophy exhibition, under the superintendence of Miss Charlotte Cochrane, Calderglen; and the Belgian Cafe, in charge of three Belgian young ladies—Miss Preumont and the Misses Vanderhofstadt.
Mrs James Jackson Croftfoot was convener of the refreshment department, and she was ably seconded her labours by Mrs Wilson, Bothwell, and about fifty young lady assistants! Those in charge the other stalls, etc., included the following : —Sweets—Mrs Jackson, Greencroft; Mrs Copland, Coatshill and Miss Turnbull. Flowers —Mrs Moore of Greenhall; Mrs D. H. L. Young of Crutherland; Mrs Brown, Barronhill; Mrs Douglas Miss MacClure, Miss Brown, and the Misses Hamilton. Variety Stall—Mrs Macpherson, Mrs Forgie, Mrs Brown, Mrs Cleland, Mrs Blackley, Mrs M’Caffrie, Mrs Kelly, and Miss Shaw. Clock Golf —Mr William Brown; bowls—Messrs R. Scott and P. Brown: houpla—Messrs A. Todd and D. Barr; the “Kill-the- Kaiser stall”—Mr Collier; donkey carriage—Miss Jeannette Watson, Neilsland; Shetland pony rides—Miss Stewart, Blantyre Park ; decorated ice-cream barrow—Miss Ismay Naismith and Miss Georgina Maclean: and Vienna roll vendor—Miss Nora Moore (Greenhall) who was in costume.
The other attractions of the fete included a palmist. Miss Mowat, Skelmorlie; and instantaneous photography, skilfully operated by Mr Louie Collins. There was also Highland dancing by Miss Whitney Broxburn; while last, but not least, the silver band of the United Co-operative Bakery from Glasgow, under Mr H. Mellor, rendered many popular selections during the afternoon.
The war trophy exhibition was deserving of more than a passing mention. It was held in small greenhouse and was most successful for many friends lent trophies of great interest. The centre stage was arranged in tiers covered with red, white and blue paper, surmounted by a Union Jack, and photographs of the mountains over which the Italians were taking their large machine guns. Amongst the most interesting trophies were: —A huge shell which had not exploded and (although was then empty) was still intact; rod of a grenade rifle which killed one 6th Scottish Rifleman and wounded two others; the Union Jack flag riddled with bullets by the Germans after they became masters as they said of Belgium; a Glengarry bonnet through which a bullet passed and did not touch the soldier under it; a nose of a “Jack Johnson” shell in perfect condition (black German 15cm artillery shell) also, asphyxiating gas bomb noses, howitzer and
shrapnel noses, a Guhrkba, knife, and pieces of German helmets, and a tobacco tin which saved the life of a soldier carrying it. Many people visited the collection and all expressed their interest and delight.
Financially, the fete proved wonderfully successful, and the funds of the Cottage Hospital greatly benefited. The winning name in the doll competition was Mary, the holder of that name was asked to communicate with Mrs Bannatyne. The sum cleared after paying expenses was £114 1s 8d (about £12,000 in today’s money!) and that a further £5 18s 3d was collected boxes in the public houses throughout Blantyre and 15s 3d in the Blantyre Social Club.
The cottage hospital opened on 25th June 1910 and closed on 13 Feb 1939.