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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Riders get day in the sun

The dawn which broke over Langholm and Eskdale on Friday morning was dull and overcast and many anxious eyes scanned the eastern horizon for a break in the lift as the Flute Band blasted the townspeople from their beds at 5am for the Common Riding Day.

The monument was partly obscured in mist before the hound trail, but visibility for the trail was excellent. The mist lowered for a short time about 7.15am, then disappeared completely. The sun broke through as the Cornet led his men to the hill at 9.15am – and that was it set for the rest of a glorious day.

Councillor James Harkness, as acting Provost, presided at the Town Hall, where Mrs Paterson, Terrona, presented the cup to R Batey, joint owner of the winning hound, Bentic.

As we have already said the sun broke through as Cornet Irving led his men in the thundering gallop up the Kirkwynd to the Common Moss.

Counters have given various figures of the number of horse. The consensus seems to be 240, with other numbers in the same range. So let us say 240 on horseback.

By this time, as the emblem bearers were readying their burdens at the Townfoot, the sun was helping the statistics which have shown that it was the hottest July for 300 years, and the marchers in the procession before and after the Second Fair were of record numbers. This was especially true of those who accompanied the Emblems to Mount Hooley.

The Pipe Band joined the children by the Kirk Yaird Wall having played from their new headquarters in the Crown Hotel. Appearances can be deceptive and although there appeared to be many more children in the parade, the actual numbers were 345, as compared with 310 last year. The children each received a 1983 20 pence piece, donated by Eskvalley Knitwear of the Skippers Mill.

The spectators are more easily seen when the procession rounds the Bar Brae corners and the sods are cut on the Kilngreen and the Castleholm. Many of the people who lined the Ewes Bank on the Kilngreen could have had only a glimpse of the Cornet and his cavalcade as they crossed the ford as there were so many crammed on to the space from the water’s edge.

The Sawmill Bridge was almost jammed as people rushed to the Castleholm arena to view the Cornet’s Chase.

The Cornet drew thunderous cheers for the second time that day as he bravely headed the charging riders round the course carrying the Flag full out.

The fine evening was perhaps the attraction which drew one of the biggest crowds ever to the Dance on the Green. Whatever the reason there was no lack of dancers to the Town Band’s music and the midges were less troublesome than in 1982.

After the final polka, the procession at Lodge gates was formed up quickly and the march to the town was off to a good start. Perhaps it was because the procession went away earlier than usual, and also because there was an organised attempt to keep the people on the move but this year’s handing in of the flag went more smoothly than for some years.

The three polkas took place at the Kilngreen, Crown Hotel and the Townfoot before Councillor Harkness was again on the platform to receive the Flag from the Cornet.

After taking back the Flag, he said, “Cornet Irving, you have worthily maintained the high traditions of your office, and on behalf of the Burgh of Langholm, I thank you. The dignity and obvious happiness with which you have carried out your duties, not only today but since your election on 13th May, has been an inspiration to all of us. I would also like to thank Ex-Cornet Maxwell and Ex-Cornet Currie for the dignified way in which they have supported you. Ex-Cornet Currie, we are proud of you.”

He then called for three cheers for the Cornet.

“The Common Riding of 1983 will soon be a memory – for each of us there will be some part of it which is precious - let us think of that part as we sing Auld Lang Syne.”

Cornet Irving thanked the people for having made Friday the most memorable day of his life, and he expressed the hope that everyone had had as enjoyable a time as he.

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