In March 1938 one of the brightest, most ambitious and spectacular amateur productions ever witnessed in Blantyre took place, organised by the members of Blantyre Old Parish Church Sunday School. It was staged in the relatively new Miner’s Welfare Hall on Calder Street, first with a full dress rehearsal to a children’s audience on the evening of Tuesday 22nd March and thereafter to adult audiences on Wednesday 23rd and Thursday 24th March 1938.
It was all carried out in a pleasing manner and was a highly ambitious undertaking. Miss R.M Campbell, MA, the talented producer and daughter of well known local nurseryman Mr. Matthew Campbell of High Blantyre had the satisfaction of knowing that her efforts had given Blantyre citizens one of the most enjoyable entertainments ever to be witnessed.
The Pageant covered many prominent features in the history of Blantyre since the 19th Century and Miss Campbell must have spent much time in research work and piecing together such a volume of interesting information regarding the historical events of Blantyre. Indeed, her script ran into many thousands of words. There were twenty scenes depicted and Miss Campbell had woven a most interesting story appropriate to all of them. The production was staged by the senior members and friends of High Blantyre Parish Church Sunday School, and a number of children appeared in some of the scenes.
The opening event had the appearance of “the Herald” Miss G Chambers in picturesque dress, with Miss N Scott as reader. The commentator was Miss J. S.W Orr and the story was communicated to the audience through a microphone.
The first scene of particular interest was “The Monks of Blantyre Priory” who in the 13th Century resided at the historic old building on the banks of the River Clyde opposite Bothwell Castle. In the 1930s, some of the ruins of the Priory were still in existence above ground. Portraying the monks were :- G Chambers, M Allan, J Black, J Dunsmuir, J.P Dunsmore, M. McCreadie, M Carrurthers and R McAlpine. The archers in their 15th Century dress also made a pleasing picture. The principals were “Makar” J Carruthers and archers W McKillop, A Hyslop, J Lee and M.Mackie.
The next scene “Blantyre Parish Church of 1567” was rather interesting to many people in the audience who were unaware that the church in the Kirkton at High Blantyre had such a glorious record. The minister of that period was the Rev. William Chyrnside, who was the first monk to cover over to the Protestant Church and he was cleverly personated by Mr. W. Moonie. Lettergae (precentor of the church) was in the hands of Mr Hugh Richmond, who was a prominent member of the Glasgow Fruit Market. The congregation consisted of A Davidson, JP Dunsmore, M. McCreadie, N Scott, M Smith, Allan Todd, Thomas Watson and A Struthers. The first Lord Blantyre 1606 was featured by Mr. G McAlpine and Mr Adam Scott, the splendid postmaster with dignity gave a representation of James VI of Scotland. Princess Theresa Stuart (1660) model for Britannia on the then copper coins was in the hands of M Carrurthers in fancy costume and her husband, Mr. J Carrurthers in wig and full dress, made a good substitute for Lord Arlington. The followed a pleasing dance entitled “From Lennoxlove to Blantyre” and here also beautiful dresses were displayed by the ladies in the group. They were J Dunsmore, JP Dunsmore, M MCreadie, J Black, M Allan, C Chambers, C McFarlane and M.McPhee.
Pictured is Miss G Chambers, the Pageant Herald at the Miners Welfare, March 1938.
Continued tomorrow on Part 2