Royal celebration: Thousands welcomed The Queen to Rutherglen at start of her reign

The Queen celebrates 70 years as the nation’s monarch this weekend, and she was no stranger to visiting Lanarkshire over the years.

Fittingly, given it is the Royal Burgh, Rutherglen was an early appointment for Elizabeth II, with her appearance in the town coming shortly after her coronation.

The visit to Rutherglen on June 25 1953 capped off a day in Scotland for Her Majesty and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, who also saw the couple go to Paisley and Glasgow. This included an appearance at Hampden Park to see a youth rally, with performances by the Scouts, a youth choir and displays of gymnastics and dancing.

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After that, it was off to the Royal Burgh, where locals were determined to give the new monarch a warm welcome. The day was bathed in sunshine, with thousands of locals out on the Main Street to see the royal couple arrive at the town hall, where they took tea and signed the visitors’ book.

According to the Reformer’s coverage at the time, Her Majesty was very impressed by the number of cheering children who greeted her.

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The Reformer reported that the Queen told the then Provost, James Sinclair, she had never seen so many youngsters at a visit.

Mr Sinclair was quoted as saying: “The children had given them the kind of reception only children can give.”

Queen in Rutherglen
Queen Elizabeth II visits Rutherglen in June 1953. Here she is shaking hands with Major Monteith, vice convener of the county outside the Town Hall

Among them was Pat Bolton, who in 2016 relayed to the Rutherglen Reformer her memories of the day.

Pat said: “I was 14 at the time – the Hampden event was all the youth organizations on display, and it was excellent. My dad led the 113th Burnside Scout band and then led the pipe band at Hampden – he was a very laid back person generally but he was very proud to be part of it.

“The fact my dad was involved made it even better – I was like ‘there’s my dad!’ and then we were back to the Main Street afterwards to see her arriving at a distance. It was a good day.

What in
Queen Elizabeth II visits Rutherglen in June 1953

“It was so busy on the Main Street – I remember the big car going by [with the Queen in it].”

Also on the Main Street was Mary Rafferty, then a St Columbkille’s Primary pupil.

In 2016, she recalled: “I remember we were taken from school to the Main Street to wait there, and we were all so excited.

“All the schools were there to see her.

“We were all lined up at the front, and every five minutes we’d hear someone saying that the car was coming, although obviously it wasn’t.

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“We had flags to wait for them to pass and we could see them in the back of the car, which was all glass – everyone was screaming when they went past.

“It must have been about 3pm when they arrived, but we were there for a good couple of hours beforehand.”

After the Town Hall visit concluded, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh then rejoined the Royal train at Rutherglen train station.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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