‘This is the day the Lord has made’
Published at 01:00, Thursday, 26 July 2007
THE Flute Band provided the customary reveille for the townspeople on the Common Riding morning and promptly at five o’clock they paraded through the principal streets of the town, and then followed the long trek up Copshaw Road to the Hound Trail.
The sun was now shining in all its glory from a cloudless sky giving promise of a real summer’s day and so it proved. Cowie’s Thorn, Langholm’s famous Common Riding weather glass was fair and clear on the slopes of Timpen Hill, on the opposite side of the valley and visibility was well-nigh perfect and the progress of the hounds on their ten miles circuit could be seen by the naked eye.
The winner was Milky Way owned by W Little, Longtown, who was presented with the Arkleton Challenge Cup and the Holmwood Cup, later that morning.
Cornet Maxwell, flanked by his Right and Left Hand Men received a tremendous reception as they arrived to accept the flag from Mr James Harkness, chairman of the local Community Council.
Before handing the flag to Cornet Maxwell, Mr Harkness addressed the huge crowd as follows: “The prophet of Old when calling his people to worship said – “This is the day which the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it.
“This is the day when more than on any other day of the year the people of this Burgh of Langholm, whether they be at home or in some far corner of the world, turn their thoughts to this ancient Market Place.
“This is the day when a common love of our native Burgh links Langholmites throughout the world.
“This is the day when pride in our history, our traditions and our customs fills the heart of all true Langholmites.
“This is the day when a special hand of welcome and friendship is extended to our visitors – when stranger and native join together as one big family.
“So on this day – Langholm Common Riding Day – let us rejoice and be glad.
“Roger Maxwell – on the fourteenth day of May, 1982, you placed your name before the people of the Burgh of Langholm as a candidate for the Office of Cornet. By the democratic vote of your fellow Langholmites you were elected to the high office of Cornet for 1982. It is the highest honour which can be bestowed on a young man who is a native of the Burgh of Langholm, and I congratulate you on receiving this honour.
“Cornet Maxwell, I now present you with the flag of the Burgh of Langholm – it is the symbol of your office. (After presentation). “Carry the flag aloft, with honour and dignity, and when your duties are completed return it to me at the end of this day. Take your place now in front of your supporters, and gang oot to see gif a’ oor Marches they be clear.”
Then to the tune of “A’ the airts” with its familiar “twirly-bits” and preceded by the barley banna and saut herring emblem, the Cornet and his immediate supporters, with a record number of 240-odd mounted followers set off on the prescribed route up the High Street, over Langholm Bridge, round the Square Pump, back to Townfoot and from there to the Market Place, where on the site of Langholm’s former Mercat Cross, the first part of the Langholm Fair was proclaimed by Mr John Elliot, Jnr, which he did with vehemence and gesticulation as his father and grandfather before him.
Then followed the thrilling helter-skelter gallop up the steep Kirk Wynd. Thousands of spectators witnessed the gallop which was indeed a very spectacular affair with Cornet Maxwell leading the way and over 240 riders following him like veritable furies. A halt was made at the Castle Craigs, Langholm’s furthermost boundary of its communal possessions, where refreshments were served in the shape of portions of barley bannocks and a piece of saut herring plus a drop of “mountain dew” as “kitchen”.
During the halt at the Castle Craigs the Fair was cried in his own inimitable manner by Mr Ian Rhodes.
From the Castle Craigs the route taken was to the summit of Whita Hill on which stands the obelisk erected in memory of one of the Knights of Eskdale, Sir John Malcolm. Here a boundary sod was cut by the spade bearer, Harry Erskine and encircled by the riders prior to the descent down the hill to Mount Hooley where the Cornet and his followers were greeted by the prolonged cheering of hundreds of boys and girls each carrying a heather besom.
While the Cornet and his followers were inspecting the marches there were no signs of idleness in the town itself. A number of guests, including the Earl and Countess of Dalkeith, Sir Hector Monro, and Chief Constable Campbell of the Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary, attended the Common Riding Breakfast, in the Eskdale Hotel as guests of the Annandale and Eskdale District Council.
There was also the customary gathering at the Townfoot where the three emblems, the Barley Banna, the Thistle and the Floral Crown, were on view and from here the Town Band with the emblems in front marched up the High Street to Mount Hooley where on the arrival of the Cornet and his followers, the procession was now completed.
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