Alloa Burgh Centenary

Alloa Burgh Centenary Year, 1954

In the 18th century Alloa's port was very busy exporting coal and local produce from within Clackmannanshire and the Scottish lowlands to continental Europe. By the mid 19th century the town had grown substantially and this led to Alloa receiving Burgh status in 1854.

In 1954, in celebration of 100 year as a burgh town, many local groups helped to organise and run a variety of events. The events included formal dinners, exhibitions, open air church service, and a pageant. Many of the events took place in July but the formal dinner was held in January.

Formal Dinner - 20th January 1954

The celebration year started on Wednesday the 20th of January. This was a typically Scottish winter's wet and windy night, but it did not deter representatives of Alloa and the wider community from gathering in Alloa Town Hall for a banquet with several noteworthy guests. 

On arrival the area beneath the magnificent entrance hall staircase and balcony had been transformed into an ante-room where guests mingled before being summoned into the Town Hall. Many of the guests were heard quietly talking and expressing their surprise at the magnificent décor and amount of effort required to transform this area for the evening.  

The  Town Hall was transformed into a grand banqueting hall very much worthy of such a historic occasion. Ribbons of various colours hung from the hall roof which formed a canopy over the magnificent tables below. The tables were beautifully laid shining silverware and the gentle light of candles.  There was a floral background behind the top table which transformed the front of the stage.  The guests were summoned into the hall by the Master of Ceremonies and made their way to their seats.  Those present  felt that the occasion was so special that a master of ceremonies was highly appropriate.

Centenary Dinner

With servers diligently working serving delicious food and wine, the guests enjoyed pleasant conversation.  This wonderful atmosphere meant time seemed to pass quickly and before anyone knew it, it was time for a variety of Toasts.  (The catering was provided by Aperitif Ltd of Edinburgh and the menus were printed by the Alloa Advertiser.)


Programme P1

Programme P2

Programme p3


The toasts of that evening were given by a variety of notable people of the Burgh as well as Lord Home who was then the Scottish Secretary of State (he later became Prime Minister).


Blessing of Meal  :- Rev. Peter Philip Brodie (he later became Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland)

“Except the Lord build the house they labour in vain that built it, except the Lord the city the watchman waketh but in vain”

The blessing continued by asking that God would prosper the affairs of the community and the labours of the good in it. Giving thanks for the fruitful years that are past he prayed that the men in authority should be guided in wisdom in the futures.


H.M. Forces :- Councillor Robert Ormiston, Honorary Treasurer of the Burgh of Alloa

“Before proposing this toast I should like to say how pleased I am, Mr Provost and I am sure everyone present, to see you with us this evening after your illness and I trust the strain of this function may have no ill effect.”

“It may seem odd that I should ask a peace loving company like yourselves to rise and drink the health of those whose professed trade is war. We in Britain are men of peace, we hate war and all that it means, but as we hate war, so we love freedom and justice, and it has happened in the past that these things so dear to us would only be preserved if they were defended by force of  arms. It may happen it is a sombre thought, but one that must be faced, and that is why we keep our armed forces and this is why I can with a clear conscience, and a willing heart propose this toast tonight. Nothing is more honourable to our people than that there have always been men and women ready to give their time and energy to their country at a personal sacrifice to themselves. No praise which we can give can be too great for them. The vigour of our forces lies not in the ships, the guns, or the aircraft, but in the men and not in the men's technical skills, but in their hearts, their spirits and their humour.

We are honoured this evening by the presence of a representative of Her Majesty's Forces in the person of Lord Younger, who is Chairman of the Territorial Association for this area, and who more fitted to fill that position than one whose family has considerably enhanced the name of Alloa, by its products?  We also link Lord Younger with that famous regiment, so well known to us, one that formed part of the famous 51st Highland Division, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. We are very proud of them, a regiment that has brought fame and honour to this town. On looking up the Roll I find many local men of the Services have brought honours to Alloa and so maintained the prestige of the very fine and proud motto “In the Forefront”.

There have been two Victoria Crosses, three Distinguished Service Orders, twenty-two Military Crosses, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, fifty-three Distinguished and Military Medals, thirty-three Mentioned in Dispatches and many other minor honours too numerous to mention. That is a very fine record and one that we ought to be proud of.

Twice in a century our forces have been called upon, twice they have covered themselves with glory. Let us hope there will be no third time. If it should come we have a sure knowledge that they will carry out their part in the same valiant way as in the past.

Mr Provost, my Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen, let us now honour them;  rise and join with me in drinking the Health of Her Majesty's Imperial Forces, at home and overseas, coupled with the name of the Right Honourable Viscount Younger of Leckie.

Reply:- Right Honourable Viscount Younger of Leckie O.B.E, D.L.
(sadly the full speech isn't available, therefore the newspaper report is provided below, from the Alloa Advertiser)

Viscount Younger said that it was an honour for a man who could only pretend to be an amateur solider to reply to the toast. It was however, appropriate, that he should be asked, in that the Territorial Army must be closer to us than even our own county's regiment.

He had been speaking to Treasurer Ormiston beforehand and had discovered that he had been in the First World War “though he's a younger looking chap really and I felt quite surprised”. But it turned out he had given an “army” age and got himself into the Royal Flying Corps, as it then was, in that way Viscount Younger claimed, amid applause, that there was a good example of what they were looking for in the Territorials today.

The Territorial Army could not pretend to have scored a century as Alloa can. A hundred years ago there was no such thing, and the Regular Army was engaged in the Crimean War. In some recent books, unkind things had been said about the army in these days – and we must deplore the corruption there had been. “It is just as well” he joked “that during the last 10 years the Territorials were not tempted to sell the Seventy Argylls to the highest bidder to build a new drill hall in Alloa.

“The Territorial Army is totally dependent for its success on local public opinion” he stressed. In the district that opinion had been extremely friendly. 

He had himself been connected with the Territorial Army for 25 years and some of the men who had served with him were the finest in the forces.

Before the war they had relied very largely on the mining communities – conditions underground seemed to require the same qualities as were required in the Army. They did not have quite as many miners now, but they had an ample source in the district in other firms.

It was important to remember this of the Territorial Army, that it is and always must be a young man's job, in which you are old at 40, and they were asking men to volunteer at a most difficult time for them when they were settling into their jobs or starting to rear a family.

The older generation could help by making it easier for them. A lot of young men were deterred by  opposition at their job or at home, or the imaginary opposition they thought they might encounter. He would therefore ask this very representative gathering to do all they could to give encouragement and help to any man who expressed a willingness to take on this form of National Service.

They were taking on the task of training to defend their hearths and homes in case of need and experience in two wars had proved how vital their services were for their very survival.

He hoped then that everyone would help the men to take up the task which the men of Clackmannanshire have never hesitated to take on in the past.

The Burgh of Alloa:- Right Honourable Earl of Home, Minister of State for Scotland

“The people who know their own business are the people who should be allowed and encouraged to run it without interference.

Mr Provost, this is an auspicious day and it is a happy thing that the people of Alloa pause at this moment to remember their distinguished past, when fresh in your memories is the Coronation with its compelling evidence of the enduring virtue with which continuity and tradition can endow a free society.

For myself I am to confess, I am torn in two. As a ratepayer the thought of a century of town councillors is a daunting thought, and of course, the more I toast them the more there will seem to be!

But as a cricketer I have long had a healthy respect for anyone who makes a hundred. It is a landmark of skill, a hallmark of merit – it invites envy but no jealousy however shaky the beginning the end is all glory and credit (I take back the last word – a dangerous word to use in the hearing of a Local Authority).

So here you are – a hundred and not out, and we are glad to share the triumph of the Burgh of Alloa and to honour all who have served it so successfully since 1854.

Nothing in Scotland, is accomplished without argument and your Burgh status was born in controversy. I've no doubt Mr Provost, behind your chair is the shade of Dr William McGown and behind the chair of the Sheriff, the shade of his opponent the Solicitor, Mr David McWatt.

Long and bitterly did they dispute as to the town's future. It may be they still do, and that Dr McGowan is quoting the record and quality of the Burgh Councillors' services while Mr McWatt cites, the half of the citizens who will not vote at elections as evidence that the experiment was premature.

Maybe – but of this I am sure, that both have long since formed a righteous alliance against the Central Government which has poached so freely on the Local Administration's preserves (I have assumed that Town Councillors get to heaven – for which assumption I am bound to say there is no evidence what ever).  The impatient controversary of 100 years ago is something we may very well envy - for these early pioneers had a very clear idea of the place which they wanted Local Government to occupy in the community life of Scotland.

They knew no higher service than service to the locality. He who served in this way had the fountain of patriotism.

Their lively sense of local independence was nurtured and fostered by a wealth of cultural interests and activities. Like many other towns Alloa had its society of archaeology and natural science, its music association and a whole range of activities from chess clubs to football clubs.

The two teams with St Mungo for a Patron Saint happened to be second bottom and quite bottom of the leagues.

One hundred years later, centralisation in particular of finance has inevitably made all government less independent and more impersonal – though we must admit that yet there is still great scope for local leadership for administrative ability and constructive social work.

Let this tradition which Alloa have inherited be an inspiration to its people to guard its rights, and to remember that the greater the local interest and efficiency the less excuse the central government will have to interfere and over ride.

In the 1850s we cannot help being struck by self contained richness and delight of life in a Scottish township. I come from the Borders where we cherish the old customs and anniversaries and have a firm belief  that they contribute much to the sense of community.

But where today was the gaiety of Alloa Fair and its fashionable evenings? Its Children's Day and Flower Show Sunday? And what of the Feeing Fair when country came to town and the Old Hogmans and the Hansel Mondays, which belonged to Alloa in so special a way?

When all the world is, so prone to standardisation and we are so enthralled by canned entertainment as the only of artistic and intellectual excitement, isn't there a lot to be said for reviving some of these activities which so richly express the character and spirit of a town?

But, of course, you are rich enough in romantic association and profitable enterprise. You are connected to the most exotic places by the strands of wool that Joseph Paton began to card in the early 19th century.

Alloa “Malt and Water”

Ever since the 1st George Younger got his name on the Kirk records in 1645 the fame and excellence of Alloa malt and water has travelled far afield to the great advantage of mankind. In all your story you have always had something to sell which someone wanted to buy, the essence of good and profitable business. Defoe wrote “a merchant of Alloa may trade to all parts as well as to Leith and Glasgow”.  With our variety of enterprise this world has ever since been the Alloa man's oyster.

And last but first in Alloa's Roll of Honour in the name of Erskine, the 1st Earl of Mar who brought so much romance and business to the town. 

Many have travelled the world from here and remembered their home town with gratefulness but few to such good purpose.

On one thing I am never quite clear, how there was room for the Erskines and the Douglas's in the south of Scotland at the same time. It must be that the Erskines never met the Douglas' or the Erskine's wouldn't be here!

And yet there may be more in this than meets the casual eye.  A book has lately been written which seems to prove myself as descendant of a Parisian glass blower!

Can it be that he inspired Lord Mar to transport the industry to  Scotland on which Alloa has built its name?

How much we wish that we had present with us tonight Lord Mar – and how much he wishes he was here. I suggest that we send by his grandson and his grandson's wife our best wishes and delight that the family is going to carry on a great tradition.

 Replies:- Provost William Brown J.P & Major the Lord Erskine, Scots Guards

“Minister of State, My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my very great pleasure to express the satisfaction of myself and my colleagues on the town council that you have accepted the invitation to attend this Banquet in honour of the centenary of this burgh. I bid each of you have a special welcome.

I am most grateful to you sir, that in an already crowded life you should make time available to honour us with you presence. There was gratification when in 1951 you were appointed to the newly created office of Minister of State for Scotland and we all felt that the wide function entrusted to you would be to the advantage of our loved Scotland. That your choice was a happy one has been demonstrated by the diligence with which you have personally carried out your duties. It was the unanimous desire of my council that you should be with us on this memorable occasion in our civic history, and not only has that desire been fulfilled but also has it been richly adorned by the gracious toast, you have proposed.

It was a matter of interest to me that as a cricketer you had a healthy respect for anyone reaching a century. From this I presume you were not a bowler, and did not suffer that wretched disgust of finding your efforts being dispatched either to or over the boundary!

However it will interest those present to know you were a cricketer of some renown, and that you represented the House of Commons against the House of Lords. I have not yet been informed of the result now that you Sir, are no longer eligible to assist the harassed commoners.

After the somewhat difficult pre-natal antagonism and the subsequent birth of the burgh, I find that even the christening had its troubles. I am consoled to know that the birth was comparable with a healthy new born babe, whose lungs were such for all and sundry to hear. Under such circumstances and the guiding hand of a physician such as Dr McGowan in the very early years there was no fear but that the subsequent child would grow from strength to strength. But little did our progenitors realise how valuable to the benefits of the subsequent growth or how the stranglehold of subsequent legislation would not lop the growth but at times appear to cut the sap. I agree with you, Sir that there is yet enough sap to feed the great scope available for the diligent carrying out of our duties.

We here are proud of Alloa, proud of its past, knowledgeable of its present and hopeful for its future. That feature is in the hands of the present generation and it is my fervent wish they will build securely upon the foundations already laid, and at the next centenary look back with the same satisfaction and pride as we have done this evening
Alloa today is a compact, cosmopolitan community. It requires to be enlarged, and it is significant in no sense by design, that there is in contemplation a proposal to extend our boundaries within which the town council and their successors hope to start the progress for our next hundred years.

I should like to impress upon all the citizens of this Burgh that as the history of it unfolds itself over the last hundred years there is sound reasons for its motto:- “In the Forefront” and every reason for its continuance in the  future. We are living today in a very different world from that of one hundred years ago. The tempo has greatly increased. The Atomic Age is now at hand, and we have now to ascertain if the progress of civilisation can keep proper pace with our scientific advancement. 

I however believe that in this community there will ever be men and women who in the words of Edward Gibbon will have :- A heart to resolve, A head to continue and a hand to execute.”

In closing:- Provost Brown expressed his pleasure at the presence of Lord Erskine, and asked him to convey the company's best wishes to Lord Mar, whose failing health had precluded him from coming. He also quoted from a letter from Rt. Hon. Arthur Woodburn, M.P expressing his regret that he could not be present owing to his parliamentary duties, he would have been delighted to be present and sent his very best wishes.

Provost Brown concluded with “I again thank you Minister of State for the gracious toast so ably proposed by you, and I also thank you all my Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen for the very hearty response you gave to that toast.

Major the Lord Eskine, Scots Guards, also replying to Lord of Home's toast with a message from Lord Mar.

“I congratulate you most warmly on this historical occasion and I thank you and your predecessors for the loyalty, co-operation and friendliness which the Burgh has invariably extended to me since I succeeded to the family office . May the Burgh of Alloa continue to prosper”

Lord Erskine then, counted himself very fortunate to be present to represent Lord Mar. This was his maiden public speech and he could think of no better place to deliver it than Alloa.  He had been a solider for the past thirteen years and had spoken a good deal during that time and if he spoke that night to the guests as if they were on the barracks square he hoped he would be forgiven.

He then continued:- “Lord Mar is eighty eight and it is worth noting that out of the hundred years Lord Mar has seen all but eleven and a half of them. When I see him tomorrow morning and tell him about this magnificent banquet and the remarks that have been given about him, it will give him courage to reach his century.”

Lord Erskine commented that had Lord Mar been able to attend the banquet he would have spoken in a historical tone, for no one knew more of the details of Alloa's history. He was a human encyclopedia on the topic.

“Alloa Tower is the centre and has been for many years of the life of Alloa, and it was round it that the original hamlet grew up and expanded into the burgh it is now.

It was built some time before the beginning of the 16th Century, and it was only on one occasion that it failed to act as a guardian of the peace, and that unfortunate occasion was when the famous Scottish patriot Montrose swept over Glenfarg, sacked Castle Campbell and was entertained that night by Lord Mar in the house adjoining the Tower. But either the dinner was not good enough or it was too good, for they sacked the town after it”.

Lord Erskine recalled some of the monarchs and famous people who had come to Alloa since in 1363 David II granted the land to Lord Mar.  James V, Mary Stuart, James VI, Charles II and in fact the cradle and high chair of James V were in view in Alloa House.

“He was proud of his ancestors part in bringing the burgh through its early days and helping to make it what it is. It is with great pleasure to me to think that the making of glass, the working of coal and the construction of Gartmorn Dam were the responsibility of my ancestors.

They had encouraged David Allan, the Scottish Hogarth, on his way to becoming a great painter.”

Lord Erskine recalled the Minister of State's reference to the Douglas' and Erskines, on the occasion there was the buffer state of Provost and Mrs Brown between them, but in any case he could not say too much since his wife was partly a Douglas.

He ended his speech by quietly announcing that later in the year he and his wife were going to make Alloa their home, and had already a great affection for the place.

The Town and Trade - Robert H. Maconochie Esq, O.B.E, Q.C Sheriff Principal of the Sheriffdom of Stirling, Dumbarton & Clackmannan

Proposing the toast of the “Town and Trade” with the polish and ease of an accomplished after dinner speaker Sheriff Maconochie started by saying that it was always difficult for a Sheriff to address such a galaxy since his duties normally were to sit and listen in silence, he sometimes thought that the best Sheriff would be deaf and dumb!

“I find myself surrounded by town councillors. Their duty and pleasure is to speak in season and out of season. At elections they vie with their opponents in making promises, and between times it is doubly his duty to explain to the electors his failure to keep these promises.

Lord Home had said all about the town and trade that he intended to say and as usual had got away with it on account of his personal charm.  I am the one thorn in a bouquet of oratorical roses.”

Of the proposed extension of Alloa burgh boundaries, he commented “It will probably fall to my lot to say whether you are worthy,  “Please spare me – get a Parliamentary Provisional Order” There had been a spate of these applications including one in Dollar, only partly successful, Sheriff Brown reminded the councillors that a burgh did not only need houses and food “I sometimes wake shuddering from my sleep imaging that Mr Arthur Woodburn has been asked to dig up the last agricultural sod in Clackmannanshire. In the short space of one hundred years Alloa has not been backward – the rates risen from 1/10d to 20/-.

The councillors had seen to it that the amenities had been provided for the populace and that the rich had been soaked.

Speaking of his childhood pony rides in Alloa and Blairlogie, he said that he could imagine that he had played hopscotch on the pavement with a bobbin from Patons and Baldwin. He could also imagine that he had seen free beer running down the gutters and that his pony had gotten home to Blairlogie tipsy – he could imagine that.

Alloa had grown considerably in his lifetime and it would soon be the centre of the most important coalfield in Great Britain.

The Sheriff went on to trace the apocryphal relation between the mining industry, the production of beer and the glass industry founded to deal with the beer.

In an aside he murmured “There is no time to discuss Alloa Athletic”.

He hoped Alloa would flourish and continue to be worthy of their motto – so much better than those chosen by Lord Lyon, like “Wick Warks Weel!”

He ended with a few words of sincere praise for Captain Younger – then once again less serious he claimed he was the only man born with a monocle, a living example of the text “Through his eye is single his body is full of light”.

Replies:- Captain J.P. Younger, C.B.E, D.T, J.P

Captain Younger opened his reply by remarking that it was hopeless trying to match Sheriff Maconochie in humour, so he would have to be serious.

The honour of replying to the toast had come to him, he felt purely on account of the long number of years his family had spent in the town and played their part. He recalled his grandfather's role in the founding of the burgh, and his grand-uncle's work as Provost.

He turned to consider some of the industries which had died out in the last one hundred years – shipbuilding, except for the brief revivals during the two wars; the well known local pottery and the dye works.

Alloa was fortunate in the diversity of her industry, which gave a large degree of employment to everyone who lives in the town.

He referred to the possible extension of the burgh boundaries and hoped that the town council would not always look on the green fields as the only place for houses. There were parts of the town which would be for better levelled, re-planned and built on.

“In the long run it makes a town which is worth looking at, instead of one which one rather shuns.”

He has often wondered why Alloa had grown so rapidly and he had come to the conclusion that it was because of two factors – the river an artery of east bound traffic; and the starting of the coal industry.

It was only natural to wonder what Alloa would be like at the end of a further hundred years, when the area had become even more a main coal producing area.

He hoped that as in the past there would always be people willing to come forward and give their services without thought of self; and that  people in industry would follow the example of the past and realise the way to prosperity is to keep on top of the wave all the time.

Toast:- Local Government - Ex Provost J.R. Rutherford C.B.E., J.P.

Commenting that one hundred years was only a short part of the life of Alloa, he remarked that he liked to think of all the people who had found in local Government an opportunity for service to their fellow citizens and for the exercising of their talents.

He knew of no service more important for it was the centre of our liberties and the basis of our national progress.

In his speech he deplored the fact that the burghs which were the power and pride of Scotland, were gradually being submerged in vast national schemes and the local representatives were becoming permanent apprentices for an administration largely centred in London.

He hoped that as a result of the Royal Commission on Scottish Affairs and the Sorn Committee on rating, that they would see the nationalised industries in Scotland in the hands of the Secretary of State, and an extension of the Scottish Grand Committee or the formation of a body to discuss and frame legislation which affects Scotland.

Replies:- Councillor John C George, C.B.E.
William Maltman, Esq., J.P., Town Clerk of Burgh
Councillor T.R. Miller, Vice Convener of the County and Chairman of the Landward Committee

On replying Councillor George said they should pay homage to the work and tribute to the memory of Dr McGowan and the men who founded the burgh and ended the era of arbitrary rule and the power of the Baron Bailie.

The years that succeeded showed that change was merited. Local Government then may have been a little scrappy with a restricted vote, but as years passed by it assured the position it has today.

“The greater problem now was housing”, and he could not let the occasion pass without referring to this important subject. The Council was making a great impact on this problem in Alloa, and if this was maintained they would within four or five years have ended the housing problem.  That would be a great start to the new century, and there were men in the Burgh who, if it was left in their power, would see that this was accomplished.

“We believe that if we build quickly and face the cost realistically we will find a cure for the financial angle.”

Mr George went on to make a vigorous plea for variety and beauty in modern building. Did they have always to look on the very old as beautiful, and might we not create in our generation buildings of which our children would be justly proud?

Turning to the council, he said that it was through clash and conflict that one made progress  and the council had its share of clash and conflict. He paid a warm tribute to Provost Brown, twenty  years a councillor, three years Provost and eight years Convener of the County, who at all times carried out his duties with unruffled confidence and had an amazing ability to keep his temper under any circumstances.  

“He has an unfailing dignity which we who serve under him should seek to emulate. May he serve the town for many years longer”

He admired the grit which Provost Brown had shown in getting up from his sick bed to control them at the dinner that evening.

His path, and the path of all the councillors was smoothed by the help of the officials.

“Tonight, once in one hundred years, let us pay them tribute, Alloa has always been fortunate in its officials, and today was especially fortunate.”

He ended by saying that they could enter the new century with quiet and sober confidence.

In a brief speech Mr Maltman outlined the relationship between the officials and the councillors – a happy one in Alloa though there might sometimes be a diversity of opinion.

 extended the County's felicitations. He paid tribute to Lord Mar, Captain Younger and Provost Brown under who he had served since he became a County Councillor.

Toast the guests - Councillor Robert I. Scott

Councillor Scott spoke o f the way in which the council had made up the list to include the people who by position, by post, by appointment or by situation had in some way contributed to the welfare of the community during the past one hundred years.

He went on to enumerate in details the guests whom they were glad to have with them that night.

He ended with reference to Mr L.R. Milligan, who had risen from being a Drawer in the pit to Manager of Alloa Area of NCB.  

Reply - Mr L.R. Milligan

Mr Milligan replied briefly and humorously to the toast.

Men of Title

The National Anthem

Evening concluded.


Outline of Events

Outline of Events

Outline of Events

Outline of Events

Outline of Events

Jan – July 1954

After the Centenary Banquet it was time to start organising the remaining celebrations for later in the year, especially the Historical Pageant.  The town council decided that a total expenditure of two thousand  pounds would be allocated to the Pageant. Of this five hundred pounds was paid to Mr Thomas Forbes of Aberdeen who was given total responsibility for organising, presenting and running the Pageant. 

Rev. T. Crouther Gordon, the Clackmannan Parish Church Minister who was very well known for his depth of knowledge about local history, wrote the script for the Pageant. 

In March of that year the Director of Education Mr A.C. Marshall raised a complaint that the date of the  first week in July “the worst possible week for as schools would be busy with end of year ceremonies”.  He wanted the events to move to mid June but this was deemed not suitable as more time was required to allow people to rehearse and organise things. 

An advertisement was run in all the local newspapers, the Alloa Advertiser, Alloa Circular & Hillfoots Record and the Alloa Journal for volunteers to take part in the pageant. Among these volunteers they wanted people over the age of fifteen to send their names to the Town Clerk and auditions were held in Alloa Town Hall by the producer Mr Thomas Forbes on the 25th of May for those with little or no experience. People who wished to audition for the main characters were asked to attend in Municipal Buildings at Greenfield and it was requested that only people with acting experience and/or a voice suitable for recording should attend these auditions.  There was also an appeal put out for country dancers as they would need at least one hundred and twenty eight , to achieve this number dancers could be under 15.


The appeal had to run again two weeks later as although some people had come forward they were still lacking a significant number and especially young men. Along with performing in the pageant people were needed who could make costumes, help build the set etc.

Centenary Week 
4th to 10th July 1954

A diary of events were planned for the main centenary celebrations which took place in the first full week of July. 

Sunday 4th July

An open air church service - Greenfield House Grounds.

Rev. J.S. Clark conducted the service
Rev. Alex Chalmers M.A delivered the sermon
Rev. F. Tidd read from scriptures.
The Alloa Instrumental Band  provided the music for the service.  

A covered platform was built which was surrounded by Hydrangea flowers. In front of the platform were two crescents of nine seats on each side.  Seated on the first row were the Lord Provost who attended in his Robes of Office, Magistrate, Councillors and Officials

The service commenced with only a few having gathered possibly due to the drenching rain, although as the service progressed the sun did make an appearance and more people arrived. The service was opened by the singing of Psalm 46- “God is our refuge and our strength”. Rev Jas. S. Clark B.D. offered thanks for those of public spirit from the past as well as for those who had won civil and religious freedom for their country in this prayer. The Hymn “O God our help in ages past” was then sung.  A passage from The Revelations of St John the Devine, was read by Rev. F. Tidd. Beginning “And I saw a new Heaven and a New Earth” this was followed by a passage from St Matthew VI verse 13 “Ye are the salt of the earth”.

A prayer was then given by Rev H.G. McCall for the future of the church in the town, for the Queen and her house, for the Provost, Magistrates, Councillors, all those who bear authority and for the people”. The text “For he looked for a city which hath foundation, whose builder and maker is God” from Hebrews was preached by Rev. Alex Chisholm M.A. This was followed by Rev. W.D. McGregor who pronounced the Benediction which brought the service to a close.

Exhibition of Mar Relics and Treasures - Alloa House

Opened by Provost Brown 
Organised by Saltire Society

Displayed a wide array of articles belonging to the family and estate of the Lord of Mar & Kellie. Included in the display were the robes worn by Lord and Lady Mar at the Coronation of King George VI.

Open till 9pm on the sunday, daily 3pm – 5pm, 6.30pm – 9pm

The opening of the exhibition was well attended and Dr E.N. Reid thanked Lord and Lady Mar for their cooperation, on behalf of the organisers the Saltire Society. Provost Brown opened the exhibition by speaking of the “goodwill which had always existed between the House of Mar and the people of Alloa”. The exhibits varied hugely including a patchwork quilt made by Elise, Countess of Kellie around 1860 and a detailed account of money spent on the 1715 upraising, boldly signed “Mar”.

The Alloa Instrumental Band provided a programme of music in the grounds of Greenfield House.

Monday 5th July

Old Alloa Industries Exhibition
Gas Showroom
Bank Street
Organised by The Business and Professional Women's Guild
Opened Mrs Brown, wife of the Provost

There were displays from:-
-The Glassworks
-Paton and Baldwins,
-Alloa Grain Market
-The Alloa Advertiser
- and more 

Open daily 3pm – 9pm

Miss Jeffery the President of the Alloa Business an Professional Women's Guild presided over the opening of the exhibition by thanking those who had provided exhibits allowing the exhibition to cover 100 years of Alloa's industries.

Mrs Brown (wife of the Provost) on opening the exhibition commented “some of the industries have been replaced by others, but it was well to remember past trades and the men and women whose care and skills went to their making.”. Mrs Brown was presented with a bouquet of flowers by three year old Evelyn Stanton. Miss Eleanor Hunter then proposed a vote of thanks.
Among the exhibitions was one of carved glass which was greatly admired as were the skills of the craftsman who made it. Old whisky bottles were included in the display from Alloa Glass Works alongside the moulds for the glass milk bottles of the era. Pottery products made by Bailey's Pottery of Greenside included glazed place pieces decorates with gilt and floral designs.


Among other companies exhibiting were Patons and Baldwins who display a wool picture and Fair Isle cardigan among other things. Wilison's Copperworks with a model of an engine.
On display as well were old photographs, maps and reference books which helped visitors to see a fuller picture of what Alloa was really like in the 1800's.

Hobbies and Crafts Exhibition
Y.M.C.A Hall
Mar Street, 

Organised by Alloa Round Table
Opened by Major The Lord Erskine

Displaying some of the hobbies and crafts from within the Burgh.
Displayed were:-
- models of the ships 
- model trains
- an exhibition of items made by members of Alloa Art Club 
-stamp collections and many more.

Tues- Fri 5pm – 10pm
Sat 2pm – 10pm

This exhibition catered for the young and old, offering a view of the different skills people could learn and use in their free time.  At the opening of the exhibition, Major the Lord Erskine spoke about how important the exhibition was in encouraging people to learn and use the skills required for these past times.  The Major then asked for the gathered crowd to join him in “showing his appreciation to the Alloa Town Council and the Alloa branch of the Nation Association of Round Tables for their wisdom in conceiving and arranging the exhibition”.

Among the many exhibits was a C.R. No.128 Steam railway engine. The engine sat outside the venue on a railway track. Children were delighted when they were given the opportunity to sit on  attached wagons and be pulled along the track.  Mr Gordon Small spent 5 years building the engine which consisted of 3000 parts and was coal fired.  The engine had a top speed of 18 miles per hour.

Other exhibits contained models of great ocean liners including the Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mary and both the old and new Mauretania. There was also an observation bee hive, exhibits from Alloa Art Club who displayed paintings clay models, wood carvings etc. Gardening, Photography, Coppersmithing, Stamp Collecting and mountaineering equipment were also all on display.

Tuesday 6th July

Exhibition of the works of David Allan
Townhead Institute 
Drysdale Street.

Opened by R.H. Westwater Esq., Edinburgh Art Critic for Scotsman Newspaper
Alastair Smart, Esq., Lecturer in Fine Art, Hull University was the Guide Lecturer

Open daily 3pm to 8pm

Many art galleries and private collectors loaned their much cherished pieces of David Allan art to this exhibition, among these is our very own Lord Erskine, Earl of Mar and Kellie. At the time the BBC arranged for a broadcast review due to the wide interest shown in the exhibition.

A children's Fancy Dress Parade was held.
Arranged by Alloa Rotary Club

The children gathered at Sunnyside Primary School and paraded through the town. 
The route was :-
Sunnyside School
Erskine St
Primrose St
High St
Mill St
Bank St
Bedford Place
Grange Road
Into West End Park

prize winners

Members of Alloa Rotary Club judged the costumes and Lady Erskine presented prizes to the winners.

Lady Erskine

Thursday 8th – Saturday 10th

Historical Pageant
Alloa Recreation Ground
Clackmannan Road

Organised by the Town Council who appointed Mr Thomas Forbes, Aberdeen to be responsible for the organisation, presentation and running of the Pageant. The Rev. Dr. T. Crouther Gordon, a local minister well known local for his knowledge of local history provided the information for the Pageant scenes. He had previously written the script for the Clackmannan Historical Pageant in 1949.

The Historical Pageant was performed on Thursday, Friday and Saturday of that week at 7.45pm.
Tickets were sold from a selection of local shops, the bus station, the municipal building as well as the sub post office and local baths. 

There were 3 different types of tickets which were:-
Admission to grounds:- Adults 1/   children 6d (cost today = adults £1.19 children £0.60)  
Centre Stand:- 3/6 (cost today = £4.18)
End Stands:- 2/6    (cost today = 2.98)

A programme was also available for 6d (cost today = £0.60)

The pageant was made of seven individual scenes, each performed on a stage area built within the Alloa Recreation Football Park.  Although some of the music was performed live all of the script had been pre-recorded, it was stated that the cast did extremely well synchronising their miming to the audio tape. 

Part 1

Scene 1:- 209AD Romans


This scene depicts when the Romans set up a bridgehead in the Marshill area of Alloa.  The roman commander Lolluis is seen to discuss and arrange a truce with the King of Picts Brude, who dwells on the banks of the Brathie Burn.

Scene 2 - 518AD St Mungo

St Mungo

Here the arrival of St Mungo and followers in Alloa is depicted and is accompanied by a singing Choir.   He tells the local picts he has brought the message of a “new god”.  He eloquently shares his message and does draw the people in but they are not totally convinced. The Chieftain presents St Mungo an injured dove which cannot fly. St Mungo blesses the bird which then takes off and happily flies.  The Chieftain then falls to his knees before St. Mungo and says “we need your message, bring safety to or homes”.  Before leaving Alloa St. Mungo dedicates land for a church and leaves his spiritual son Finnlan to teach the new faith.

Scene 3 – 1303 Edward I

Edward I also known as “the hammer of Scotland / Conquerer of Scotland,” arrives in Alloa on horseback. He is accompanied by chain mail wearing troops and addresses the local people who reply with angry shouts. Whilst in Alloa he receives news of an insurgent upraising in the Border Country.  He then dictates a harsh message to Thomas de Milton and John de Hudleston calling for the men of Cumberland and Westmoreland to deal with the rebels. Prior to leaving Alloa he gives  one hundred gold crowns to St Mungo Church.

Part 2

Scene 4 – 1566 Mary, Queen of Scots


The arrival of Mary, Queen of Scots and her son James is depicted in this scene.  They have come secretly from Edinburgh Castle, to the safety of Alloa Tower. The Queen is greeted by the Lord and Lady Mar as well as many excited locals.  The Queen can be seen country dancing with Lord Bothwell, whilst her maids and locals join in, to celebrate her safe arrival.  During the dance an angry Lord Darnley arrives, furious at his wife leaving Edinburgh and not telling him.  At the end of the Scene the Queen speaks to Lord Mar and says “Lead me now to the peace of your ancient tower” and Lord Darnley is seen galloping off in anger.

Scene 5 – 1715

This scene depicting when the Lord Mar summoned all his men to come and fight with him at Sheriffmuir.  People described this scene as being very vibrate and colourful. The scene had many participants who were all dressed in many colours and lots of tartan, and carried swords.  A reporter in the Alloa Journal describes it as “the bright colours, swirling tartan and gleaming weapons”.  

The commentator/tape narrates the events of the Battle of Sheriffmuir as well as the fact that Lord Mar went into exile afterwards.

Scene 6:- Child Labour

This scene has a much more sombre tale to tell, here a procession of children are seen. The children are all dragging their tired bodies home after a long day of working in the local mines. This scene is to remind the audience of the plight of many many children who had been forced to work in the dangerous local mining industries, many of them working at the coal face. 

A piece of music was specially written for this scene. (unable to find any other information so far).

Scene 7 – 1854 Birth of a Burgh

Dr William McGowan is depicted in the scene. Dr McGowan states the reasons why Alloa should become a Burgh. He does this before Sheriff Bennet Clark and a crowd of local people.  After his statement a vote is taken and Alloa is then declared a Burgh.

At the end of the pageant each era is represented on stage.

During the following week footage of the Pageant was shown at the local cinema for 3 days.

The information about this Pageant is only available due to the local papers at the time who all covered the Pageant, exhibitions and Dinner very extensively.  They were:-

The Alloa Advertiser
The Alloa Circular and Hillfoots Record
The Alloa Journal.

Letter to the editor

[Reproduced here for clarity]

Alloa Burgh Centenary
Sir - The most historical event of the coming week in Alloa is the Centenary of the Burgh, and the Town Council have decided to celebrate this noteworthy occasion by Centenary Banquet.

Judging by the invitation I have received one might think that it was sent the Council Members of 1854, for on the foot of the invitation is the instruction 'Evening or Dinner Dress.' Thinking this might be a mistake, I phoned the Town Clerk, who assured that it was a definite instruction of the Committee arranging the function. So according to Town Council, clothes make the man.

While in the past I have been, by unanimous decision of Council, good enough to state a case on behalf of the Council and community, to the Secretary of State, good enough to hold important posts in Town and County Councils and to represent these bodies and the people on important committees. I am not now good enough to attend the Centenary Banquet, not because I have not given good service to the Community (this, in my opinion, is the only reason why any individual, other Than trade representatives, should be invited). not because I have not the brains and the a ability to use them, but because I do not wear an evening or dinner dress, And this is 1954 !

I note from the daily press at a recent investiture held by Her Majesty the Queen. 2000 people in lounge suits, dinner suits and evening wear attended The highest authority - in this land appreciates that the individual and not the clothes they wear matters most, therefore dress is optional.

May I, in conclusion, leave the members of the Town Council to their thoughts (if any) and hope they enjoy their banquet. - l am. etc., F. J. Dawson.


Clackmannanshire Council Archives Service

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