Stuart and Kathleen roll back 70 years

Selkirk was buzzing in 1946, as the town readied itself for its first full Common Riding in six years because of restrictions in place during World War II.

Monday, 30th May 2016, 4:05 pm
Updated Monday, 30th May 2016, 6:07 pm
1946 Hammermen Standard Bearer Stuart Russell and his Lady Busser Kathleen Thomson

Although the war in Europe was over by the time of the 1945 Common Riding, most of the town’s men were still mobilised and the event was a “subdued affair”.

From 1939-45, the burgh lands were ridden by Ex-Standard Bearers appointed as burleymen, but the rest of the ceremonies were shortened, given the gravity of the situation across the channel.

So expectations were high ahead of the 1946 event.

Helping take on this huge responsibility was that year’s Hammermen Standard Bearer Stuart Russell and his Lady Busser Kathleen Thomson.

And on Sunday, the pair made history as the first time in living memory that a trade or incorporation was able to welcome a 70th anniversary standard bearer or a lady busser, never mind both.

Stuart, a plumber to trade, was joined at the event by his brothers George – who travelled up from the south of England and was also a Hammermen Standard Bearer in 1949 – and Harry, who lives in Lindean and was Royal Burgh Standard Bearer in 1965,

The event was held in the town’s Conservative Club, and remarkably the 50th and 60th anniversary pairs – 1966 Hammermen SB Jock Craig and his lady busser Anne Cochrane, and 1956 Hammermen SB John Rathie and his lady busser Justine Lawton – were also in attendance.

Deacon Kevin Fairbairn said: “The Common Riding is woven into each and every one of our souls and is a very important part of our yearly rituals, the faces change year on year, but the ancient rights and traditions that our forefathers fought for remain the same, and so they should. But when an occasion like we have here today presents itself it is only right to make the most of it and celebrate it properly.

“Stuart and Kathleen represented the Hammermen all those years ago in 1946, but here today it’s a first for all of Selkirk to enjoy and share.”

This year’s Hammermen Standard Bearer Graeme Legge presented the anniversary pairs with a gift to mark the historic occasion.