Pageant of Scottish History; 'The Roadmakers'
Place: Ibrox Football Stadium (Glasgow) (Glasgow, Glasgow City, Scotland)
Number of performances: 1
4 June 1938
[The performance began at 3.30pm. The pageant was the main feature of a national rally by the Scouts in Scotland that took place in Glasgow in 1938, a few weeks after the opening of the Scottish Empire Exhibition then being held at the city's Bellahouston Park; the pageant was advertised as being in association with the Exhibition.Rangers Football Club provided their stadium as the venue for the rally.]
Name of pageant master and other named staff
Names of executive committee or equivalent
Names of script-writer(s) and other credited author(s)
Names of composers
Numbers of performers8000
An advertisement for the performance states that 8000 took part; all were members of the Boy Scout movement in Scotland [Falkirk Herald, 28 May 1938, 1].
Object of any funds raised
The object of the event does not appear to have been aimed at fundraising, but it is assumed that any surplus made would have been to the benefit of the Scottish Scout Association.
- Grandstand: Yes
- Grandstand capacity: n/a
- Total audience: 30000 - 60000
30000 Boy Scouts travelled to the performance to take part in the rally. It was reported that fourteen special trains and sixty special trams were laid on to transport the Scouts to and from the event. In addition to this number, who travelled from all parts of Scotland, 'a special party from the Scottish Scout troop in Leeds' also came to Glasgow to participate in the pageant. Over 800 Scouts stayed in Glasgow over the weekend [Scotsman, 28 May 1938, 18]. Some Scouts from Northern Ireland also came to see the spectacle [Larne Times, 11 June 1938, 2].
Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest
[Admission charges were as follows: Grandstand Reserved Seat, 2s (juvenile 1s. 6d); Grandstand Enclosure, 1s (juvenile 9d.), End Terracing, 9d. (juvenile 6d.): Falkirk Herald, 28 May 1938, 1. ]
The Empire Exhibition, Glasgow 1938.
Picts and Romans
'One Thousand Scouts... illustrate the coming of the Romans to Scotland and the war with the Picts'. ['Romans v. Picts at Ibrox', Dundee Courier, 25 May 1938, 7.]
This episode depicts the arrival of the saint in Scotland.
No details recovered for this scene, but it may have illustrated a battle.
Robert the Bruce
This scene illustrates 'the crowning of Bruce as King of Scotland at Scone'. ['Boy Scout Notes', Kirkintilloch Herald, 25 May 1938, 6.]
In this, a troop of Redcoats disturbs a conventicle. ['Scout Rally', Scotsman, 6 June 1938, 10.]
This depicts a 'gathering of the clans' to greet Prince Charles; the episode includes massed dancing by Scouts of a 'Dashing White Sergeant'. [Ibid]
A tableau was performed displaying 'Colonial and Dominion life of the present day'. This included 'realistic liners cruising along the trades routes'. ['Great Scout Rally', Northern Whig, 6 June 1938, 10.]
All of the participants are summoned back into the arena with the lighting of 'fiery crosses'; the scouts then all rush into the arena. Lord Glentanar (Scout Commissioner for Scotland) delivered a speech. The pageant ended with singing of the national anthem. ['New Variety of Ibrox Roar', Aberdeen Press and Journal, 6 June 1938, 7; 'National Scout Rally', Falkirk Herald, 8 June 1938, 9.]
Key historical figures mentioned
- Columba [St Columba, Colum Cille] (c.521–597)
- Wallace, Sir William (d. 1305) patriot and guardian of Scotland
- Robert I [Robert Bruce] (1274–1329)
king of Scots
- Charles Edward [Charles Edward Stuart; styled
Charles III; known as the
Young Pretender, Bonnie Prince Charlie] (1720–1788) Jacobite claimant
to the English, Scottish, and Irish thrones
A Pipe Band performed. The national anthem was sung at the close of the pageant.
Newspaper coverage of pageant
Press and Journal
Book of words
- None known.
Other primary published materials
References in secondary literature
Archival holdings connected to pageant
Sources used in preparation of pageant
The rally of Scouts that took place at Ibrox Park in Glasgow in early June 1938 was described as the largest ever gathering of youth seen in Scotland to date.1 The occasion that prompted this was the massively successful Empire Exhibition being held at the city's Bellahouston Park. Situated around a mile from the park, Ibrox Stadium is the home of Rangers Football Club, and one of the few such venues in the city that could have accommodated the Scouts as well as the crowds who were expected to attend the pageant staged as part of the rally's proceedings. Eight thousand Scouts performed within this show, which illustrated scenes from Scottish history and ended with a parade of empire illustrating 'Colonial and Dominion life of the present day'.2 A recorded commentary on the display was broadcast on BBC radio across the UK.3
In advance of the pageant, Ibrox was transformed into a highland glen with elaborate stage scenery, and part of the enclosure was screened off to help create this illusion. The day's proceedings began at 3pm with a selection of music played by a pipe band.4 At the end of this, the pipe band lead a march past of selected members of all the various Scout troops as well as Sea Scouts and 'old Scouts'.5 The pageant followed this. In one newspaper report, it is stated that it was subtitled 'The Roadmakers' and presented in four groups of two episodes each: the groups were entitled 'the Track, the Pathway, the Road and the Broad Highway'.6 Unfortunately, a programme providing details of this arrangement has not been recovered. We do know, however, that among the episodes presented were ones featuring Romans and Picts, a scene showing St Columba arriving in Scotland, Wallace and the Bruce in two more, a Covenanting episode and an episode dramatizing Charles Edward Stuart and the 1745 rebellion. The pageant ended with a celebration of empire in keeping with the host attraction being held at Bellahouston. Other features included the release of one thousand carrier pigeons taking 'messages of goodwill to Scouts throughout the country and the lighting of 'fiery crosses' in order 'to summon all participants into the arena for the final assembly'. It seems, too, that the performance of 'a grand howl' by the thirty thousand Scouts who attended from all over Scotland, matched anything that might be heard when Rangers played in the stadium.7
Initially, it was hoped that the Chief Scout, Lord Baden Powell, would attend, but ill health prevented this. Instead, the Chief Scouting Commissioner for Scotland, Lord Glentanar, oversaw the rally.8 The weather was somewhat overcast on the day with some rain, but despite this the event seems to have been a great success. The sheer numbers involved were sufficient to make a colourful and impressive spectacle: in the episode on the 1745 rebellion for example, 500 kilted Scouts danced Scottish reels in formation.9 At the conclusion of the rally, the Scouts were allowed to go around the empire exhibition free of charge.10 This pageant must have been a feat of incredible organization; there is no note of a full rehearsal and this is unlikely in any case, given that many of the boys travelled to Glasgow on the day of the performance. Rehearsing was conducted in individual localities across the country. Those who came from afar were accommodated overnight in Scout halls throughout Glasgow. This huge rally attests to the popularity of such youth movements in the interwar years; it also shows how these were used as a vehicle for imparting a strong sense of national and imperial identity. Furthermore, the inclusion of a pageant by the Scouts as part of their gathering provides plentiful evidence of the continuing popularity of historical pageants: indeed, another historical pageant was being held simultaneously within the empire exhibition's own concert hall in the week preceding the Scout rally.11
'Boy Scout Notes', Kirkintilloch Herald, 25 May 1938, 6.
Commentary by Leo Hunter: see, for example, 'Wireless Programmes', Scotsman, 4 June 1938, 7 (this listing appears in many English newspapers as well as Scottish publications).
'Scout News', Larne Times, 4 June 1938, 4.
'New Variety of Ibrox Roar', Aberdeen Press and Journal, 6 June 1938, 7.
'Scout Notes', Motherwell Times, 10 June 1938, 2.
A pageant entitled ' Scottish Pioneers of Empire' ran from the end of May 1938 for one week within a purpose built concert hall at the Empire Exhibition site.
How to cite this entry
Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘Pageant of Scottish History; 'The Roadmakers'’, The Redress of the Past, http://www.historicalpageants.ac.uk/pageants/1442/