117 years ago, on Saturday 9th June 1905, the Blantyre Co-Operative held their annual gala day. The weather was beautiful, but without a public park in Blantyre, the gala had to be held on private ground. The donated venue for that day was the farm field in front of Croftfoot (my own home) in High Blantyre. A field which would later become Kirkton Park. However, in 1905, this was merely a rough field, with no paths set out and at the time, houses being constructed nearby.
What was remarkable about that day, was the number in attendance. Drawing in crowds even from other nearby towns, between three and four thousand folk crammed into the field, which would have been quite a sight, such crowds even larger than Blantyre’s modern gala days. Children had congregated nearby earlier and marched in procession into the field kickstarting many fun activities.
Stirring music was supplied by Blantyre Silver Band, St Joseph’s Brass Band, The Salvation Army Band and the Shepherds’ Pipe Band. An attractive programme of sports had been drawn up and under the care of an energetic committee who saw to the provision of a plentiful supply of creature comforts, a most enjoyable afternoon was spent.
Gala days at Croftfoot’s field may have become quite customary, for by the early 1930s, Croftfoot’s owners sold the field for a ‘charitable pittance’ to the County Council to allow the formation of a public park for people to enjoy all year round. That event is recorded in my own title deeds!
Kirkton Park field is pictured almost half a century after this Gala day in 1953.