Fifth time lucky for Langholm Cornet Simon

The Crown is held aloft at Langholm Common Riding. Pictures by Stuart Cobley
The Crown is held aloft at Langholm Common Riding. Pictures by Stuart Cobley

It was a fine clear morning as people were roused from their beds at 5am by a flute band to get Langholm Common Riding under way last Friday.

The band played in a number of streets in the town before heading up Copshaw Road to the hound trail.

The weather was in stark contrast to the Thursday evening preceding it, Simmer Fair Night, as the rain that had fallen for much of the day continued as crowds gathered in Market Place to listen to a programme of music from the Langholm Town Band, joined by the pipe band for a number of selections.

The rain had eased a bit as the flute band and pipe band went to Townfoot, still carrying out the tradition of meeting the last train at 9pm, although the railway actually closed in 1964.

They then played up High Street and round the streets of the town with several rows of enthusiastic followers.

It was a nice touch to see Langholm Cornet Simon Tweddle and his right and left-hand men Jamie Fletcher and Dale Irving joining the flute band playing triangles.

arlier in the evening, the cornet and his right and left-hand men had joined the common riding committee to inspect the beautiful floral crown made by Les Murray and a giant thistle chosen from the garden of Robert Warwick.

As is traditional at Langholm, the cornet is elected by public vote, and Simon, 25, had to stand five times before being chosen.

He had a dream of one day carrying the burgh standard, and it was realised on Friday, and he enjoyed every minute.

Huge crowds attended the ceremonies, and they gave Simon, a builder by trade but presently working in forestry, a rousing reception.

The Muckle Toon was celebrating 257 years of tradition and custom, and as hundreds of exiles and visitors joined the locals, they did it in style. On top of that, the weather was fine and warm throughout.

The day got off to the perfect start when local dog Castle Caledonia won the hound trail for the syndicate entry of Borthwick, Irving, Fawkes, Richardson and Cuthbert.

This is regarded as the blue riband of Border trails, and it was a delighted Marti Borthwick and her sister Mary who were later presented with the Arkleton Trophy and Holmwood Cup by Kevin Knott at the town hall.

The last local winner was 2003’s Castle Cooms, from the same kennels, in the hands of the late Elliot Borthwick, now run by his widow Marti.

Cheers echoed along the high street as Cornet Tweddle and his right and left-hand men, ex-cornets Fletcher and Irving, made their way towards the platform at the town hall.

In his speech, officiating magistrate David Stevenson made mention of semi-jubilee cornet Alan Donaldson, who was on horseback to support Cornet Tweddle, and jubilee cornet Ronnie Hudson and diamond jubilee cornet Joe Donaldson were on the platform. Also riding was the Cornet’s girlfriend, Ailsa Mitchell.

Mr Stevenson said Simon had been determined to be Langholm Cornet, and on his fifth time of standing, had been elected in May by a large majority.

The Cornet then received the flag from the officiating magistrate amid loud cheers.

The Cornet’s mother and father, Maureen and Stephen Tweddle, along with other family members, watched from the platform as the procession, led by the Barley Banna emblem, carried by Hector Barnfather and followed by the town band, set off up High Street.

It was then over the bridge joining the old town to the new town and up Thomas Telford Road and round the square pump, then back through the packed High Street and down to Townfoot.

On the return of the procession and mounted cavalcade to Market Place, Rae Elliot cried the Langholm fair standing on the back of Gillian Paterson’s horse and was held secure by his friends James Johnstone and Neil Basnett.

He was following in the footsteps of his father, grandfather and great-grandfather before him.

A large crowd lined the steep slopes of the Kirk Wynd and Mount Hooley to witness the spectacular gallop up to the hill led by Cornet Tweddle, closely followed by his right and left-hand men, then semi-jubilee cornet Alan Donaldson and around 180 riders.

After inspecting the ancient boundaries and hearing Billy Young cry the fair at the Castle Craigs, the riders circled the monument built to John Malcolm in 1835.

Semi-jubilee cornet Alan Donaldson enjoyed his time carrying the flag on the hill and then the mounted procession made their way to Whita Well then to Mount Hooley, where they were met by the bearer of the thistle James Johnstone, and the floral crown held aloft by Kevin Irving, and hundreds of children with heather besoms.

The procession, now complete with bands, emblems, children and riders, was led off by the pipe band down the Kirk Wynd to parade up the main street.

Rae Elliot then cried the second part of the Langholm fair in a packed Market Place.

The town band played Auld Lang Syne then headed along Drove Road and the Bar Brae with the rest of the procession.

On arrival at the Kilngreen, the boundary sod was cut by spade-bearer Gordon Reid and circled by Cornet Tweddle and his mounted supporters.

After fording the River Ewes, and rounding the sod that was cut on the Castleholm, Cornet Tweddle was given a rousing cheer as he galloped past the grandstand for the Cornet’s chase with a large cavalcade of riders in pursuit.

This was followed by a morning of horse-racing, mainly for riders who had been following the Cornet round the marches.

There was a comprehensive sports programme in the afternoon of horse-racing, athletics, and Cumberland wrestling, along with Highland dancing, which all took place in good dry weather.

The dance in the evening also went ahead in fine weather at the Castleholm, with music from the Langholm Town Band, and the traditional polka was danced.

At 8.45 pm, the procession gathered at the lodge gates for the closing ceremonies to get under way, and when Cornet Tweddle and ex-cornets Fletcher and Irving joined them on horseback, the town band led off with the emblems towards the town.

There were the usual stops at the Kilngreen, Crown Hotel and Townfoot for the polka, and then the procession arrived back in Market Place.

David Stevenson received the flag back from Cornet Tweddle and congratulated him on a job well done.

The Cornet thanked his family, girlfriend, right and left-hand men, committee and friends for their support, and he also praised the people of Langholm.

After three cheers for the Cornet, then another memorable Langholm Common Riding was brought to an end by Auld Lang Syne and the national anthem.