It was wet and miserable for much of the early part of Langholm Common Riding on Friday, but it brightened as the horses returned from the hill and the sports enjoyed fine weather.
Throngs sheltered under a sea of umbrellas as they awaited the arrival of Cornet Jamie Fletcher who was elected by public vote on his first time of standing.
Jamie has been smiling throughout all the preliminary rides and a bit of rain wasn’t going to spoil his big day.
The Muckle Toon was celebrating 256 years of traditions and it was a case of singing in the rain as the Town Band marked their bi-centenary, having played the Scots Greys through the town on their return from Waterloo.
At 5am, the Flute Band roused townsfolk for the hound trail, and there was great joy for owners Ian and Barbara Telford from Carlisle when Text won what is regarded as the blue riband of Border trails, repeating their success of 2012, to secure the Arkleton Trophy and Holmwood Cup.
Cheers echoed along the High Street as Cornet Fletcher and his right and left-hand men, ex-Cornets Dale Irving and Alasdair Cavers, made their way towards the platform at the Town Hall. Common Riding committee chairman Roger Maxwell deputised for officiating magistrate David Stevenson, who had developed an infection earlier, but was able to enjoy the celebrations.
Mr Maxwell’s father, Jimmy, was Cornet 60 years ago, but due to ill health was unable to attend. David McVittie, who was Cornet 50 years ago, followed on foot. And Kevan Hotso, Cornet 25 years ago, followed on horseback with wife Wendy and children Ellie and Ruairi.
Mr Maxwell told Cornet Fletcher: “This is the greatest honour the people of Langholm can bestow on a young man. I have pleasure in presenting you with the flag of the Burgh of Langholm ... carry this flag aloft and with dignity and pride. Gan oot an sie if a oor mairches be clear. This is the moment you will cherish for the rest of your life.”
The Cornet’s family watched with pride as the procession, led by the Barley Banna, carried by Hector Barnfather for the first time, set off to cross the bridge, up Thomas Telford Road and round the Square Pump, then back along the High Street to Townfoot, as the rain began to ease.
Rae Elliot, standing on the back of Gillian Paterson’s horse, cried the Langholm Fair – just as his father, grandfather and great grandfather had done.
Hundreds lined the steep slopes of the Kirk Wynd and Mount Hooley to witness the spectacular gallop. After inspecting the ancient boundaries and hearing Billy Young Cry the Fair at the Castle Craigs, the riders circled the monument built to Sir John Malcolm in 1835. They then made their way to Whita Well and 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 was led by the Pipe Band down the Kirk Wynd – Rae Elliot crying the second part of the fair. The boundary sod was cut at the Kilngreen by Spade Bearer Gordon Reid.
After forging the River Ewes, and rounding the sod that was cut on the Castleholm, Cornet Fletcher was given a rousing reception as he galloped past the grandstand.
There followed a comprehensive sports programme in fine weather.
The sun also shined on the open-air dance, with music from the Town Band conducted by David Calvert, and the traditional polka was danced.
On the return to the Town Hall, the polka was danced at the Kilngreen, Crown Hotel and Townfoot.
The flag was safely returned and there were congratulations and thanks, and another memorable Common Riding came to an end with Auld Lang Syne and the national anthem.