The Royal Visitor - King Edward VII

Waiting for the King at Blanefield Station
The weekend of the 11th and 12th September 1909 were truly red-letter days in the parish as described in the Stirling Saturday Observer of the 18th September 1909. For some weeks prior to the visit the villagers had been busy making preparations for the royal visit. No expense was spared to ensure that Blanefield Station looked its best for the king's visit. It is also interesting to note that Blanefield won the award for the best kept station that year! For the convenience of His Majesty a special gangway was constructed across the line to the entrance to Duntreath. Mrs McLennan of Ardoch, noted for their fine gardens, which were opened to the public, had created a floral tribute in the form of a crown of red, white and blue flowers.

The parish was the place to be that weekend. Crowds poured in having come by train, motor, in carriages and on cycles. The barricades around the station were densely packed with sightseers. At the appointed time 5.30pm the royal train driven by Mr. Forsyth glided into the platform, where Sir Archibald Edmonstone and the Duke of Montrose awaited the king’s arrival. The king smiling graciously and repeatedly raising his hat to the crowd was met with loud cheers. He was then conveyed by car along the avenue to Duntreath.

The Duntreath Siding

The King had visited Duntreath on at least one previous occasion when Prince of Wales according to the Stirling Saturday Observer. His romantic attachment to the Hon. Mrs. George Keppel, sister of the then Sir Archibald, is well documented and it is likely that he was a more frequent visitor than was realised at the time. The present Sir Archibald Edmonstone relates that his grandfather, Sir Archibald, was a groom in waiting to the king and entertained His Majesty at Duntreath on many occasions. A special rail station was built at Dumgoyach Hill so that his majesty could slip in without being seen. Enormous house parties were given for shooting, and flirtations, with perhaps 30 members of staff to make life a little bit more comfortable for him. Remains of this siding can still be seen today on the old railway line opposite Duntreath Castle.

The King’s Visit to Strathblane Parish Church

On Sunday the 11th of September, the Stirling Saturday Observer reported that Strathblane was the mecca for all sightseers. In anticipation of His Majesty attending the parish church service, and favoured with the best of weather, visitors began to pour into the village close by the church as early as 10 o’clock and began to take up positions at the gates of the church. Excellent arrangements under the charge of Chief Constable Middleton had been made to ensure the orderly accommodation of the members of the church, parishioners and visitors both inside and outside. After the space immediately in front of the gates had been filled to its utmost capacity, the people crowded into the large field opposite. As well as this the pavements on either side of the road were lined 4/5 deep with people. In short, every available vantage place was occupied.

By 11.30, at which time the gates were opened, it was estimated that there were about 5,000 people in the vicinity of the church alone. The church was completely filled except for the gallery, which was reserved for the royal party. Just after noon, loud and prolonged cheering heralded the approach of the royal motor car. The king, acknowledging his welcome, made his way into church where Mr. Thorpe the organist played the voluntary. The Rev Mr. Moyes preached a short sermon on "The Peace of God which passeth all understanding" and the service was concluded with the singing of the national anthem and the Benediction. On leaving the church, the King was again greeted by loud cheers as he made his way to his car to be swiftly conveyed back to Duntreath Castle.

It was estimated that close on ten thousand people visited the parish that Sunday just to catch a glimpse of the King.

Mr Horsburgh's Arch

The entrance to Duntreath of Station Road displayed a beautiful archway of purple heather erected under the supervision of Mr. Horsburgh, the factor on the estate.
Mr Horsburgh's Arch

There is a story that there was an unexpected frost on the morning of the King's visit and the organisers had a last minute rush to ensure that all the floral tributes were in order for the great event.

Guard of Honour for the King's Departure

Scouts on Parade During Kings Visit

Scoutmaster Fraser was in charge of the guard of honour provided by the Boy Scouts. It is known that in the guard of honour were John K Campbell ( former Church Elder and JP ), Peter and Charlie O'Donnell (uncle & father of Murray O'Donnell) The King spoke to Scoutmaster Fraser and complimented the scouts on the excellent appearance presented by the boys
Also forming a guard of honour were the school children, who had a holiday in honour of the occasion. They assembled in the school and marched past Parklea to Railway Station carrying flags and banners. Mr Chisholm the schoolmaster was in charge of them.
Before entering the train, the King spoke with Sir Archibald Edmonstone, Mr Horsburgh the Duntreath factor, Mr AF Yarrow and the Hon George Keppel. His Majesty then took his place in the Royal saloon. The train was due to leave at 1.50 and glided out of the station amidst ringing cheers two minutes before the scheduled time.

The King Leaving the Parish Church

The King Leaving Strathblane Church

Though it is difficult to prove (or disprove) this is thought to be a picture of the king leaving the church – look for the homburg hat Note the size of the crowd!

Mrs Keppel’s Gift

On returning to Duntreath Castle after the church service, the Stirling Saturday Observer recorded the following incident. On his previous visit when Prince of Wales, Mrs. Brodie one of the oldest inhabitants in the parish had been wheeled in her bath chair to see him. Mrs. Brodie by now housebound was still keen to pay her respects to the king and she was wheeled in her chair to the open window of the cottage where she sat to bow to the king. He in turn, it is recorded, acknowledged her greeting by raising his hat and smiling to her. It is perhaps not without significance that the Hon. Mrs Keppel was an occasional visitor to see Mrs Brodie and had made her a gift of the chair!

©Alison Dryden, Strathblane Heritage Society 2004