With our own Queen's Diamond Jubilee much in mind this week, George Ardrossan recently gave us a glimpse into the celebrations in Ardrossan of the last Diamond Jubillee, that of Queen Victoria in 1897 : viewtopic.php?p=101740#p101740
And I have some further material of my own to add here, in the shape of the article below from the Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald in the early 1970s, which looks back on how things went on the day in Saltcoats and Stevenston too.
All three towns had their own processions, and it's fascinating to see the variety of local organisations ,many now long defunct, that took part. And Saltcoats gave the occasion extra significance by having a brand new Provost's Chain to show off.
Full acknowledgements to the Herald as usual for the use of this article.Which is just the first in a series that they produced at the time, remembering local celebrations of coronations and jubilees ; and I'll be adding the others here over the coming months in the run-up to this year's celebrations .
THE DIAMOND JUBILEE
Milk and buns, children's sports, processions and bonfires, have always been the staple ingredients with which our communities have celebrated national events —but local rejoicings have exhibited intriguing sidelights over the years.
National or international affairs did not impringe upon the small North Ayrshire townships 70 or 80 years ago to anything like the same extent they do today; but one event at least — Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee —was a highlight of the ending of last century.
The sixtieth anniversary of the Queen's occasion was celebrated nationally on Tuesday, June 22, 1897 and Ardrossan, Saltcoats and Stevenston did their best to rise to the occasion.
The day was dull throughout, but. each town looked bright enough with almost every house and shop decorated with flags and bunting.
Saltcoats Town Council combined the national event with a local one; they began the day by holding a luncheon in the lesser town hall (catering by the Royal Temperance Hotel); at which the Town Clerk, Mr James Campbell, rnade the presentation of a Provost's Chain — there hadn't been one until then — to Provost John Smith, who then thus glitteringly attired led a procession from Canal Street to a field off Argyle Road.
The procession in Saltcoats was headed by Glasgow Boys' Brigade Pipe Band, and included the Royal Scots Fusiliers' Volunteers, Saltcoats Flute Band,schoolchildren, Good Templars, Shepherds,Rechabites and Free Gardeners. At the field the children were given pastry and oranges, then ran races (the suggestion was later made that they should have had the races first ). In the evening a conversazione and concert took place in the town hall.
Ardrossan Town Council didn't bother about a luncheon — nor about a concert for that matter. They also had a procession which mustered on South Beach Green, and, composed of the council, schoolchildren, St John's and Neptune Masonic Lodge, Free Gardeners, Foresters and general public, marched up Montgomerie Street, Eglinton Street, and Glasgow Street to the Castle Hill where speeches were made by the ministers and there were decorated-bicycle races.
Having got that out of the way, Ardrossan Council settled down to the real business : a dinner in the Eglinton Hotel, at which there was a toast list of 22 speeches — and at which the toast of "The Queen" appropriately was submitted in a speech lasting 20 minutes.
The procession at Stevenston began in mid-morning, and in addition to the schoolchildren, Rechabites, Templars and Gardeners, included Nobel's Fire Brigade. After marching through the town they reached Warner Park where every child received a Bible, buns and milk.
As dusk fell, bonfires were lit in each town; Stevenston had the largest — 200 feet in cicumference — at the slag hill; the Saltcoats one was on the rocks near the Salt Pans; and the Ardrossan one was on the Castle Hill.
The editor of this paper, who with his staff had had a busy day reporting all those ongoings, concluded all the reports with the sardonic remark: " The editorial contribution to the bonfire was a large bundle of rejected poems on the jubilee."