When the Queen visited the Burgh
On eve of Her Majesty’s 90th birthday, we look back
Rutherglen might not be holding any events to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday tomorrow, Thursday, April 21, – but the Royal Burgh welcomed her in style when she visited just after her coronation.
The visit, on June 25, 1953, capped off a day in Scotland for the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh that saw them visit Paisley and Glasgow, while over 60,000 people crammed into Hampden Park to see the monarch attend a youth rally with performances by the Scouts, a youth choir and displays of gymnastics and dancing.
Then it was off to Rutherglen, where, with the sun beating down, thousands of locals had lined the Main Street to see her arrive at the Town Hall.
She took tea there, and signed the visitors book.
Among those gathered to see the Queen was Pat Bolton, who attended both the Hampden Park event and the Main Street arrival.
Pat recalled: “My father was the pipe major with the Scout band that performed at Hampden. I was 14 at the time – the Hampden event was all the youth organisations on display, and it was excellent. My dad led the 113th Burnside Scout band and then led the pipe band at Hampden – he was a very laid back person generally but he was very proud to be part of it.
“The fact my dad was involved made it even better – I was like ‘there’s my dad!’ and then we were back to the Main Street afterwards to see her arriving at a distance. It was a good day.
“It was so busy on the Main Street – I remember the big car going by (with the Queen in it).”
Her husband Jim also has memories of the big day – he was among the Scouts performing on the pitch.
“I nearly didn’t make it, because a week before I was playing football, and I sprained my ankle badly. I remember being in the Western Infirmary and a doctor passing by who recognised me from the Scouts said I wouldn’t be at Hampden because of it!
“What the Scouts did was have these two man tents along the touchline, and as the pipe band passed by, the roof of one side of the tent was pulled back, and in the North Stand it said welcome and the south stand said Elizabeth. After that was done the Scouts all congregated in the centre circle and they formed themselves into a crown. Then there were various challenges that the Scots took part in, and we cleared the tents away.
“After we’d finished our display, buses were waiting on Aitkenhead Road for what was then the Cathkin district of scouts. It dropped us off on Rodger Drive and Stonelaw Road. I was opposite Stonelaw Church when the Queen passed by about half an hour or an hour later.”
Also on the Main Street was Mary Rafferty, then a St Columbkille’s pupil.
She said: “I remember we were taken from school to the Main Street to wait there, and we were all so excited. “All the schools were there to see her. “We were all lined up at the front, and every five minutes we’d hear someone saying that was the car coming, although obviously it wasn’t.
“We had flags to wait for them to pass and we could see them in the back of the car, which was all glass - everyone was screaming when they went past.
“It must have been about 3pm when they arrived, but we were there for a good couple of hours beforehand.”
The number of youngsters gathered there certainly made an impression on the Queen.
According to reports at the time she told then Provost James Sinclair she had never seen so many youngsters at a visit.
Mr Sinclair said: “The children had given them the kind of reception only children can give.”
It was also remarked to Her Majesty how popular the Queen Mother was in Scotland.
After her Town Hall visit concluded, she and the Duke of Edinburgh then rejoined the Royal train at Rutherglen train station, ending their visit to the Royal Burgh.
Out for a drive The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh arrive in Rutherglen
Royal welcome The Queen is greeted at the Town Hall by Major Monteith, vice convener of the county
All smiles The Queen was beaming on her visit to Rutherglen in June 1953