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Thursday, 27 November 2014

Sepia Saturday - On Parade

Sepia Saturday give bloggers an opportunity to share their family history through photographs.

Clowns & costumes in a  century of  parades and processions

To begin with, march along with the Earlston Clown Band! 

Not in procession, but  Earlston Clown Band in the Scottish Borders is  here all appropriately dressed and ready to take part in the Galashiels Peace Parade of 1918 and the Galashiels Cycle Parade of the same year.    The photographs are in the collection of the Auld Earlston Group - my local historical society.   And that is all I know about them.  A call, I think.  to look up local newspapers to try and find more information.

Two more Auld Earlston images of the parade marking the coronation of George VI in 1937 - with the leading figure of Britannia. 

Moving on  seventy-two years  and here is the Pipe Band leading the 2012 Fancy Dress Parade. Unfortunately I did not manage to get any decent photographs of the actual  participants on what was a very chilly grey July day - as you can tell from the way spectators are wrapped up.  This was the year of the Olympic Games in London so that was an obvious theme for many, including a brave set of ladies in swimming costumes and decorated swimming hats as the Earlston Ladies Synchronized Swimming Team  "walking/paddling" along  inside a giant blue rubber  ring.  Great fun - but they must have been so cold! 

Into England and my 1950's childhood.  I lived near the seaside resort of Blackpool, Lancashire and this is Staining Gala that I have featured before on my blog, where I was  one of the junior dancers.  I had ambitions to be one of the older girls and carry  a garland - as here.  On the left of the picture you can just make out some little boys,  carrying the train of the Rose Queen as she processed to take her throne for her crowning, by some local worthy!    Somehow my brother was persuaded to be one of the pages,dressed in a white satin suit. 

Back  to the Scottish Borders and a mounted procession at Hawick Common Riding.
The Cornet carrying "The Banner Blue" leads Hawick Common Riding
Photograph by Lesley Fraser, www.ilfimaging.co.uk

In the Borders  Common Ridings are the  focal point of the local calendar  and last year Hawick celebrated 500 years of its event.   It is both a symbolic riding of the town's boundaries, made in the past to safeguard burgh rights and also a commemoration of the "callants", young lads of Hawick, who in 1514, raided a body of English troops  and captured their flag - the "banner blue".  This skirmish followed the  the ill-fated Battle of Flodden in 1513,  when  King James IV and much of the "Flower of Scotland" were killed. OtherBorder towns have similar ceremonies,   celebrating their respective history and heritage, with mounted processions, bands playing, fancy dress parades, sports and community picnics.  

It was my first visit to Paris and the first full day there marked Bastille Day - July 14th.  I have always loved  the ceremony of state occasions, and marching military  bands, so dragged my husband to stand (for ages) by the Arc de Triomphe.  We waited  and waited  and saw the armed forces and tanks go past and the French President  - but where were the marching bands?  We kept hearing music and thought they were getting closer, but we never saw them.  Eventually rather tired and hungry after only a little continental breakfast), we gave up  and walked down the Champs-Élysées.   We came to a crossroads and heard the music very clearly - coming from four large loud speakers of a PA system!  There were no live marching bands!  It was all piped music!  What a disappointment!    

Happier memories this year of our holiday in St. Gilgen by the Austrian lakes, where we saw the the parade marking a local festival, with the band and people dressed in    traditional costume.    


And finally I could not end a post on processions without featuring one of my favourite  photographs in my family collection.  Taken abut 1912.  it shows at the front  my aunt  Edith and mother Kathleen Danson   taking part in a gala day at Poulton-le-Fylde Lancashire.  The story was that the  Tommy, the little boy behind them,  had an uncle in America   who had sent the Red Indian banner.  I love the costumes of the little girls - the fancy white dresses, the little boots and the large hats. 

Click HERE to discover more blogger tales of fancy dress, parades and processions.


  1. A grand set of photographs! And it's always interesting to learn what goes on in all our different Sepia countries - the parades & gatherings for celebrations of all different sorts. Thanks to you, :))) I know about the Common Ridings & I've always thought how great it is the towns & communities have kept the traditions alive for so long & continue to make them mean so much!

  2. I just love local history and stories, such as the Blue bonnet story. Thanks.

  3. I would have wanted to carry a garland too.

  4. These are the kind of festivities that are so interesting and exciting if one can actually see one live. A most festive post, with outstanding photos. Fun from the side lines of my faithful computer!

  5. A fabulous selection, as always.

  6. Lots of interesting customs in different places.

  7. What a great and varied collection of photos! I've been to Scotland, my favorite place in the world, but didn't make it to the Borders, hope to see it someday!

  8. I enjoyed each and every parade ...the first Parisian one looks like a "people's parade" one man with bags packed aside...I too have clowns and Scots in my 1975 parade today.

  9. You always provide such great posts! And this time, it's the Clown Bands that wins the prize for me!

  10. Many thanks to everyone for their kind comments.

  11. I agree, a parade without a marching band sounds quite odd! The only time I ever took part in a parade was when I played the recorder at primary school in our school band in the annual Canberra Day parade, but my mother doesn't appear to have taken any photos of the event.

  12. I always like a parade with bagpipes because they are the ultimate marching band instrument. You only need a couple to make a good noise. The two postcard photos of the Earlston Clown Band are very like the American tradition of a Rube Band which I have featured a few times on my blog. But their band has two rare instruments that are very unusual, the Ophicleide. It was a bass instrument played with a brass mouthpiece but had saxophone like keys instead of valves. They were obsolete by the 1900 but still used in France. I've never seen one in British bands before.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Mike, and your interesting point about the instruments in the Clown Band.

  13. Great variety of parades Susan and I agree with Mike, you've just got to have the pipes. My favourite was the clown band.


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