The first queen rescues the post-war Lanimers

By Ron Harris

EVEN Hitler's bombs had failed to stop the Lanimers completely, although the wartime celebrations were highly muted with no Procession.

However, the staging of the first full-blown post-war Lanimer Day in 1946 was hardly a celebration of peace but almost an all-out bitter conflict, fought through the Gazette's letters pages.

The problem was the choice of Lord Cornet for that year. By traditional rights, it was the 'turn' of the youngest member of the Town Council. Daniel Ross was chosen but this was challenged by many, demanding that it was only right and proper that the Lord Cornet of 1946 should be an ex-serviceman, in recognition of the sufferings of the forces in the recent war.

Those pushing this case pointed to 1919 and 1920 when, in the two years immediately after the First World War, ex-servicemen were specifically accorded the honour.

However, the Town Council decided to stick to its guns, voting 11 - 2 to advance Councillor Ross to his Cornetship.

There was not a little embarrasment over the whole issue, one of the town councillors voting against Lord Cornet-Elect Ross asking the paper to make it perfectly clear that his vote was in no way a reflection on the young businessman's fitness for the post; it was purely a matter of principle and he had sided with those who thought a special gesture should be made to the town's ex-servicemen.

The row seemed, however, to finally have died down when someone obviously with an eye to 'stirring it' wrote to the Gazette, demanding that, at least, an ex-servicewoman should be chosen as the Crowning Lady!

In what looks like a cunning move, the choice was made of a Crowning Lady that almost nobody would dare argue with; Grace Steel who, as little Grace Adam, was the very first Lanimer Queen, crowned in 1893!

The organisers might have been forgiven for breathing a sigh of relief after that Lanimer day that all the controversy was finally over.


The usually conservative Lanark Grammar rector, the legendary AD Robertson, was that year's Official Lanimer Critic and he recommended, much to the surprise of all, that the Lanimer Crowning be moved, lock, stock, barrel, Queen, court and crowd, from the Cross down to Delves Park!

He argued that the Cross and High Street became dangerously congested during the ceremony and it would be safer and people would get a better view of the Crowning if it were held at the bottom of the natural ''great hollow'' of the park. His suggestion was never taken up and Lanimer crowds are now more modest than in the 1940s, making such a shift unnecessary.



THE Gazette noted in the lead-up to the first peacetime Christmas in six years that the government had caught the festive spirit by trebling the sugar ration from half a pound to a pound and a half, doubling the butter and margarine ration to a total of 12 ounces and the meat allowance from 1/2d (6p) to 2s (10p) worth. Weight Watchers branches were thin on the ground in these days...

If that Yuletide was a time of plenty for Clydesdale then the summer of 1946 that followed was practically a famine; the Clyde Valley was hit by yet another of a succession of crop failures, prompting well-known grower Mr Gilchrist to moan: ''I am safe in saying that there will not be a plum, pear or apple in the whole of the Clyde Valley this year.''

That June the government did take steps to try to alleviate the dire food situation through announcing that powdered eggs were coming off the ration and people could buy as much of it as they liked. The problem was that everyone seemed to LOATHE dried eggs... While this might have helped the public diet, public hygiene took a blow with a cut in the soap ration.

Massive umbrage was taken in Biggar at the council proposal to officially change the long-time name of the Main Street to High Street. Many thought that 'Main Street' was more traditional and told the council so in no uncertain terms through the Gazette's letters pages. The pro-Main Street lobby even composed their own campaign poem!

Meanwhile, a city-based national paper laid it on a bit thick in one of its periodic fits of patronising prose, sending a reporter out into the 'wilds' of the Clydesdale countryside. Under the heading 'The Ghost Village of Tarbrax', this 1946 piece described it as a community of ''70 old age pensioners and three pretty girls''; just to ram home the point that, with the death of the local shale oil industry, the Tarbrax population had plummeted to this figure from over 1200 just 20 years before.

One of the ''pretty girls'' was interviewed and bemoaned the lack of young men in the village; indeed, she and her two fellow Tarbrax 'pretty girls' were forced to take a taxi to the dances at Auchengray Hall to meet potential husbands, a round trip costing a ruinous six shillings (30p)!

It was up to the Gazette the following week to put the record straight and defend local honour; although greatly diminished, Tarbrax was far from a 'Ghost Village' as described by our national press cousins; the current population was, in fact, 150, we reported and this included 14 children at the village primary school. Happily, Tarbrax has not just survived but thrived as a community since that was written.