BO’NESS FAIR will this year be the highlight of a group of Orkney school children’s visit to West Lothian. The seven young Orcadians will be spending the last week of the school term at the homes of pupils of Abercorn Primary School as the second part of an exchange scheme which began in May when the youngsters from Whitequarries, Hopetoun and Newton flew north to Birsay.
The idea of bringing the seven Orkney boys and girls to the Fair was suggested by the Abercorn children’s teacher, Miss Jean Walker, who is, of course, a Bo’nessian, and was immediately accepted by their Headmistress, Mrs Jean Patterson, who attended several Fairs while on the staff of the Grange and Public schools.
To ensure that the Orkney pupils feel a real sense of involvement with the Fair arrangements have been made to attach them and their Abercorn hosts to Blackness School with whose pupils and presentees they will march into the Glebe Park.
For most of the youngsters from Birsay this will be their very first trip south and they have never before seen anything like our Fair. They have, however, been doing their homework by reading up the articles and looking at the pictures in previous Fair magazines and are eagerly looking forward to their visit which will be the final event in their six-day stay.
The Birsay boys and girls and their Headmistress, Mrs Anderson, will not be the only people seeing the Fair for the first time this year, for during the last twelve months many newcomers have moved into the town upon the completion of the S.S.H.A. housing scheme at Kinneil. Several of the new families already have a good idea of how impressive the Fair is, thanks to a film show provided for their benefit by the members of Carriden Community Centre’s Cine Club.
One family who unfortunately missed the films are Mr. and Mrs D. Rudge and their four children, Steven aged 13, Alan who is 11, Susan 8, and Robert, 6 but they are all looking forward to it, for it was almost the first thing they heard when they moved in. “Even the man who came to put in the stove told the children all about it,” exclaimed Mrs Rudge, when we met at her new home at Kinneil. “Before we came to Bo’ness we lived in Droylesden near Manchester,” continued Mrs. Rudge. “There they had an annual carnival which the children loved. Last year they had an aerobatic display as the highlight and that thrilled Steven, but as far as Robert is concerned it’s the bands that he loves.” With such famous bands as the Pipes and Drums of the Royal scots Greys and the Staff Band of the R.E.M.E., not to mention our town’s own well known bands taking part in this year’s procession and the Royal Command Performance, Robert should certainly not be disappointed with Bo’ness Fair.
Mentioning the newcomers at Kinneil reminds us that, according to the article about 1920 Fair which appears in this issue, the main part of the festivities that year was held out at the Ladywell Park. Soon Ladywell Park is to be reopened as another pleasant open space for the residents at Kinneil and other Bo’nessians to enjoy and it has already been suggested that, when next there is a Queen from the west side of the town, old memories might be pleasantly revived by staging the Royla Command Performance out there. Certainly this would be taking the Fair right back to where it all started, because it was to Kinneil House that the miners first marched to show their independence from thirldom to their pits, and, of course, to receive their glasses of whisky toddy from the Duke of Hamilton’s factor.
And with that let’s drink a health to this year’s Fair. May 1970 prove to be a right vintage year.