Royal Visit to Bowling Club 1942

Nathaniel Mains contacted me in September 2015, sharing these photos and adding, “My Grandfather William Mains playing bowls with the then Queen Elizabeth at Blantyre Miners Welfare circa 1945”

I’ve seen one of the photos before but only in a poor resolution newspaper report. Nathaniel actually having the photos ensured they’re shared here in better resolution and indeed its always great to be able to name the people in such photos. Hoping to give Nathaniel a little more information about his two photos, I was able to reply with the following.

“Hi Nathaniel. Thanks for sharing your family photos here. They’re great pictures. It must have been very exciting for William to be the focus of such a Royal visit and I bet it was something he talked about for a long time after. There’s no doubt about it, the second world war years must have been tough on the people of Blantyre. So, what better way to lift morale and community spirit by having none other than the King and Queen visit Blantyre. We would know her as the current Queen’s mother. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth actually were touring Scotland and England as a whole during the war years to lift morale in general. King George VI is standing in the centre of your photo.

To add a little but of detail, the date was Thursday 4th June 1942 and they were opening the new season at the Bowling Club. They sat down to a meat tea in the Miners Welfare (previously nicknamed “Little Moscow”). The Queen placed herself firmly amongst Blantyre people choosing to sit between a working miner and the District Welfare organiser. Other miners and their wives sat around her table and the miners jazz band played before tea.  Before the tea, the Royal visitors had walked through the club rooms and billiard rooms chatting to miners about to go on their shift.

If you would like to see a little more of the day (hopefully you haven’t seen this before), there’s a wonderful, but very brief short film of the visit, which is shown below. I have spotted your grandfather amongst the footage.”

On social media:

Moyra Lindsay I think I’ve commented before that my dad Willie Stewart saw the news clip in an army tent in India. He went every time it was on to see if he could recognise anybody. It made him so homesick. He came home in October 1945.

The Blantyre Project Thanks Moyra. That must have been a real emotional rollercoaster for him. I have posted this pic a long time ago, but needed to again now the people in it have been identified. It must have been terrible being so far from home and family, during times of conflict. I cant imagine it.

Gerald Kellachan On the short Pathe News film . my father Dan Kellachan and Chic Bell are the two escorts at the rear and Bobby Allan with the Queen as they walked to the bowling green . My father used to tell the story , that when the band started Bobby asked the Queen to dance causing a panic with her guards .

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