Gala Day Mass Gathering

The children’s annual gala day in connection with Blantyre Co-operative Society was held on Saturday 24th June 1916.

The children from Stonefield assembled at the Society’s premises on Glasgow Road, where they were marshalled in processional order, and headed by Blantyre Silver Band and the Salvation Army Band, marched via Auchinraith to the Society’s premises in Main Street, High Blantyre, where they were joined by the High Blantyre children, headed by Auchinraith Pipe Band coming down from Kirkton.

The co-joined procession then proceeded via Broompark Road turning right on to Stonefield Road, right on to Glasgow Road then back up Craig Street to the field at the bakery at Auchinraith. On arriving at the field the children were provided with a supply of pastries, sweets and milk. Thereafter sports and games were engaged in. The bands provided the music during the afternoon.

The committee were congratulated on the admirable manner in which they catered for the enjoyment of the children, who numbered about 6,000. The weather was very favourable for the greater part the day with rain only beginning to fall at the close.

Sidenote….I wondered about the newspaper report of 6,000 children and think perhaps they meant 600? Six thousand people may have been possible at the most popular of gala days even if all adults were included, but six thousand children was more than all youngsters under 17 in Blantyre at that time.

Suitably illustrated is this great, exclusive photo from the David Ritchie collection now shared to Blantyre Project. It’s of barefoot youngsters accompanying a band on Main Street (just outside the drapers which is now McLean’s Shop). Heading in the right direction as the newspaper report and taken in the same era, could this be a photo of that actual day!? Photo has had some colour added by Blantyre Colourised.

1916 possible Main Street band and children-Colorized

Featuring Blantyre Project Social Media with permission. Strictly not for use by others on or offline, our visitors said:

Elaine Speirs My Papa was a miners son and born in 1908. If he was there he would have been barefoot. I like to think that he was there and had some fun.
Eleanor Clark Elaine Speirs our dad was born 1907 and as you if he had also been there he would be barefoot
Elizabeth Grieve Looks like a flute band
Margo Clayton Don’t see any woman in the photo! The children all looked to be dressed in their ‘Sunday best’
Blantyre Project Margo, that wee girl’s face behind the fence that Karen noticed is in the garden of David Ritchie, so could very well be one of your relations!
Margo Clayton Well spotted Karen! Paul, might be my gran 😀 We’re very lucky to have all these photos of the family.
Jean Gibson My dad would have been 7 at the time and lived on Glasgow Rd/ Cemetry Road. He played the bugle later in life in Salvation Army band. Who knows, he might be in this photo!
Jean McIntosh The children look excited and smartly dressed. A big day for them x
Wilma Hayburn McNulty Some with no shoes wee souls 😢but they look happy enough xx
Karen Fleming That might be a lady hiding in the garden
Eva Brown My father was born in 1909 and also became a miner. He was a Sim
Arlene Campbell Fantastic photo
Gord Fotheringham Those were indeed the dayz of joy for all the youngsters
Betty McLean Lovely photo I remember hot days in Blantyre and we went out with no shoes on In the 1940’s.
Margaret Mary OSullivan This may be my favourite picture ever on the Blantyre Project. It speaks to me of so many things. One of course is poverty – so many wee souls in their bare feet.😢; of the importance of the co-op society with the aim of helping and supporting its members; it speaks of a sense of community; and of the wonderful joy of children. I find this photo just so very moving.
Blantyre Project lots of wonderful new (auld) photos still to come for a long, long time. Its a cracker of a photo. Those kids must have had such tough feet.

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