The Edinburgh Lifeboat Procession

(A Fragment)

It was on the 20th day of June, 1896,
That the Life Boat Procession took its stand
On Bruntfield Links so grand,
With Councillor Waterson in command.

To see them was a sight most grand,
Which was good enough for the noblest in the land.
Their banners were most beautiful to be seen,
And the silk they were made of was of the finest green.

Then the bands were most lovely to hear,
Who the people often did cheer,
And when the precession did advance
It was quite enough to make you dance.

In the Park it was lovely to see
How the people did dance in their glee
When the lifeboat was launched on the Loch,
The money came largely, of course.

Lifeboat Saturday in Edinburgh

This afternoon the second Lifeboat Saturday took place in Edinburgh, and judging from the preparations made for it, there are evidences of its being a more conspicuous success even than the demonstration of 1895. In the morning rain fell in considerable quantities, and, indeed, was intermittent during the forenoon, but towards the hour at which the assembly was to take place the sky was comparatively clear. A cooling breeze from the south-west blew, and although dull moments occurred, up till about the time of the starting of the procession no rain fell. The muster on Bruntsfield Links, which went on during the early hours of the afternoon, and which was witnessed by a large number of persons, began before two o’clock when various bands and bodies of processionists arrived upon the scene. Chief Constanble Henderson detailed a large number of policemen, including mounted officers, to keep order. Cols. Cranston and Waterston were primarily in charge of the muster and of the procession. Both gentlemen, mounted, were early on the links, and while Col. Cranston took charge of the vehicular portion of the procession, Col. Waterston looked after the starting of the processionists on foot. The committee in charge the event, very prudently, arranged for the presence at various points of mounted gentlemen, who facilitated the work of releasing the different contingents so as to make the work of arranging the procession the lighter for the marshals. All over the links, as well as at different points on the route, were individuals with a lifeboat collection box. The conductors of every car and bus were also equipped, and a large collection is anticipated by the promoters of the demonstration.

Soon after three o’clock various contingents began to arrive on the scene headed by their bands. They took up different positions, extending over the whole area of the Links, and with their banners unfurled they presented a picturesque appearance. In order to keep the procession uniform, the different contingents were grouped and headed by the pipers of the Black Watch, the first to start was the Eastern Local Centre of the Swimming Association, followed by the life boat, with the Irvine crew; H.M.S. Edinburgh contingent, the Edinburgh Postal Band, and other Swimming Associations. Group A was headed by a detachment of the Edinburgh Fire Brigade, with a steamer, and thev were followed the St Andrew’s Ambulance Corps, Warrender Park Christian Endeavour Society, Edinburgh Tvpefounders, North British Ambulance Corps and waggon, Humane Society medallists, Operative Plumbers’ Societv, and the Q.R.V.B. Regimental Bearers and waggon. To the Ancient Order of Foresters was assigned the third place, the various lodges following in rotation. The Loyal Order of Ancient Shepherds were represented by about a dozen lodges, a band intervening in the centre of the processionists, and a collection lorry following. The fourth group was composed of the British Order of Free Gardeners, half a dozen lodges, all largely represented. The temperance party occupied a conspicuous part in the proceedings, starting they did, fifth in the programme. They were represented by the Sons of Temperance, who led, five lodges of Rechabites, and a deputation consisting of representatives of the Edinburgh Total Abstinence Society. Next came the Independent United Order of Scottish Mechanics, consisting five lodges, each flying their respective banners. The Independent Order of Oddfellows succeeded these.

Edinburgh Evening News, 20th June 1896


This excerpt was published in the Dundee Courier, and is all that remains of this poem. The abrupt ending to the last line is reproduced faithfully from the paper, but must surely have been the result of a mistranscription on their part. What the original text was we may never know.

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Comments (1) »

  1. In the year 2013, on the 29th day of August at 12:25 am

    Poem cut short? Frankly until I learned this I was amazed that McGonagall had shown such brevity, a truly unique experience.
    Mind you its brevity may have been due to his wife Jean hitting him on the head with a bottle when in a bibulous state. In whch case the newspaper is innocent.

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