The Pageant of Maybole

Pageant type

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Place: Sheep Park (Maybole) (Maybole, South Ayrshire, Scotland)

Year: 1953

Indoors/outdoors: Outdoors

Number of performances: 1


30 May 1953, 2.30 pm.

The pageant performers processed from Carrick Academy through the town centre to Sheep Park, Maybole, in South Ayrshire.

Name of pageant master and other named staff

  • Writer and Producer [Pageant Master]: Lewis, Raymond
  • General Secretary and Treasurer: W.S Campbell
  • Production Secretary: Miss M. Dunlop
  • General Stage Manager and Carpenter: A. McCrindle
  • Procession Marshal: G.D. Johnston
  • Master of the Horse: Miss M. Murdoch. IOH
  • Bandmaster: S. Dunlop
  • Wardrobe Mistress and Dressmaker: Mrs McLellan
  • Make-up: Miss M.Tait
  • Scenic Designer: G. Molt
  • Transport Manager: J. Houston
  • Amplification Engineer: J. Bowie
  • Photographer: G. Crawford
  • Assistant Dressmakers: Mrs Caldwell, Mrs Gibson, Mrs Kidd, Miss McCall, Mrs J.McCulloch, Mrs E. McKay, Mrs Nimmo, Mrs Speirs, Miss Stewart, Mrs R. Strachan, and Mrs Watson.
  • Equipment Makers for Knights and their Mounts: Mr & Mrs Scott. Mrs Rennie, and Mr McCrindle

Names of executive committee or equivalent

Organising Committee:

  • Honorary President: Rev. A.M. Douglas
  • Honorary Vice-President: Mr A.B. Coburn
  • President: Col. Sir W.T.R. Houldsworth, TD
  • Chairman: Mr A. McDowell
  • Vice-Chairman: Mr J. Houston
  • Secretary and Treasurer: Mr S. Campbell
  • Convener of Entertainments: Mr W. Tweedily
  • Stage Manager of Entertainments: Mr A. McCrindle
  • Collector, Carpenter for Entertainments: Mr H. Clark
  • Committee: Messrs G. Moir, J. Harris, J. Thorburn, J. McEwan, J. McLarty, R. Blackle, and T. Fleming.

Tableaux and Group Organisers:

  • A Conventicle: Rev. G.B. Anderson
  • The Roasting of the Commendator: J. Bowie
  • The Union of the Crowns and the Act of Union: Miss H. Chesney
  • Carrick Provident Co-operative Society: Baillie J. Dunlop
  • Stocks and Weaving: A.J. Glashan
  • Scottish Episcopal Church: Rev. R. Hill
  • Crannog Dwellers: T. Jolson
  • Carrick Sailing Club: W. Kerr
  • Vicar of Parish Church, Monks of Crossraguel and Priests of Chantry Chapel: Rev. Father Meaney
  • Carrick Homing Society: J. Mollison
  • Knights in Armour, Smugglers and Horse-drawn Vehicles: Miss M. Murdoch
  • Early Shoe-making and Youth Organisations: Miss M. Stewart
  • Emigration to Canada, 1907: Miss M. Tait
  • Robert the Bruce, Macadam and Blane: J. Thorburn.
  • A Conventicle: Rev. G.B. Anderson
  • The Roasting of the Commendator: J. Bowie
  • The Union of the Crowns and the Act of Union: Miss H. Chesney
  • Carrick Provident Co-operative Society: Baillie J. Dunlop
  • Stocks and Weaving: A.J. Glashan
  • Scottish Episcopal Church: Rev. R. Hill
  • Crannog Dwellers: T. Jolson
  • Carrick Sailing Club: W. Kerr
  • Vicar of Parish Church, Monks of Crossraguel and Priests of Chantry Chapel: Rev. Father Meaney
  • Carrick Homing Society: J. Mollison
  • Knights in Armour, Smugglers and Horse-drawn Vehicles: Miss M. Murdoch
  • Early Shoe-making and Youth Organisations: Miss M. Stewart
  • Emigration to Canada, 1907: Miss M. Tait
  • Robert the Bruce, Macadam and Blane: J. Thorburn.

Names of script-writer(s) and other credited author(s)

  • Lewis, Raymond

Names of composers


Numbers of performers


It is difficult to judge the numbers of performers for while some procession and cast members in the spectacle are named many are simply listed collectively under organisational names. At a guess, between 300 and 400 took part, and around half this number were women and children. Horses were used both in the procession and sporting spectacle.

Financial information

Object of any funds raised


Linked occasion

The Coronation of Elizabeth II (2 June 1953)

Audience information

  • Grandstand: Not Known
  • Grandstand capacity: n/a
  • Total audience: n/a


Grandstand not known but unlikely.

Newspaper reports indicate that this event was well attended but no figures are given.

Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest

Free; not ticketed. This entire event appears to have been provided for free although charges were made for other associated events in Coronation week.

Associated events

  • Wednesday 27th May - Pageant of Fashion: at 2.30 pm and 7.30 pm, admission 1/6, including tea.
  • Thursday 28th May - 'Old Folks' concert and tea in Town Hall.
  • Friday 29th May - Whist drive in Town Hall, admission 2/- including tea.
  • Saturday 30th May - Coronation Ball at 8.30 pm [location not specified but probably held in the Town Hall].
  • Sunday 31st May - Open-air service held on the Town Green at 3 pm.
  • Monday 1st June - 'Olde Tyme' dancing held in the Town Hall at 8 pm, admission 1/-.
  • Tuesday 2nd June - Sports for Children held at Ladywell Stadium at 2.30 (free lemonade)
  • 'Novelty dance' held in the Town Hall at 8.30, tickets 1/-.
  • Bonfire in Memorial Park (time not specified). 

Pageant outline

Historical Procession

The order was as follows:

  • The Town Band
  • The Town Staff (emblem of authority since 1432)
  • Crannog Dwellers (1st century)
  • A Viking (AD 870)
  • The Vicar of the Parish Church (1192)
  • Knights in Armour (1200)
  • Crossraguel Abbey [Cluniac Monks] (1260)
  • Robert the Bruce (1313)
  • The Chantry Chapel (1371)
  • The Countess of Cassilis (1560)
  • John Knox and the Abbot of Crossraguel (1562)
  • The Roasting of the Commendator (1570)
  • The Stocks for the Tolbooth (1600)
  • The Union of the Crowns (1603)
  • The Scottish Episcopal Church (1610-1638)
  • The Established Church (1661-1690)
  • The Conventicle at Craigdow (1678)
  • The Act of Union (1707)
  • Smugglers (18th century)
  • John Loudon Macadam—in a carriage (1756-1836)
  • Sir Gilbert Blane (1749-1834)
  • Robert Burns entering Maybole to receive payment for his poems (1786)
  • Orange Lodge No. 0 (1798)
  • Weaving (1800-1850)
  • Early Shoe-making (1850)
  • The Howe Bicycle (1883)
  • Vehicles hired from King’s Arms
  • A. Governess Car B. Phaeton C. Gig D. Brake (1890)
  • James Rodger, Scottish Mile Champion and his Trainer (1895)
  • A Co-operative Home (19th century)
  • The Boys’ Brigade (1898)
  • Poachers (1900)
  • The Mass Emigration to Canada (1907)
  • The Boy Scouts—"Kangaroo" Patrol (1908)
  • Carrick Homing Society (1910)
  • The Girl Guides (1911)
  • ‘T’ Ford (1911)
  • The First World War—The British Legion (1914-1918)
  • John Knox’s Daughters of the Covenant (1922)
  • The Wolf Cubs (1922)
  • The Brownies (1926)
  • Jack’s ‘Dunlop Rubber Tyred’ Cart (1932)
  • The Life Boys (1936)
  • The Second World War
  • The Girls’ Training Corps (1940)
  • The Junior Red Cross (1943)
  • General Eisenhower
  • Boys’ Scouts Tableau—Camping scene
  • Farming (William Wallace)
  • Agricultural Implements (Jack’s) [local company: Alexander Jack & Co.]
  • Grain and Fertiliser Merchants
  • The Boot and Shoe Trade (Lees)
  • A Co-operative Home (1953)
  • Carrick Cruising Club (16ft Horner Dinghy—the property of William Kerr, Esq.)
  • St Cuthbert’s Roman Catholic School
  • Cairn Primary School (1953)
  • Carrick Academy
  • The Crown—Symbol of the Unity of the Commonwealth6

It is unclear exactly which of the items in the procession contained tableau pieces but likely these included items 3 (Crannog Dwellers), 5 (The Vicar of the Parish), 7 and 11 (Monks of Crossraguel), 12 (The Roasting of the Commendator), 16 (Conventicle), and 30 (Emigration). There may have been others. These took place either at parts of the town or upon flatbed lorries.

There is little detail available beyond the order of the procession but some ‘notes on the procession’ in terms of organisations and characters represented are included in the Souvenir Brochure, selected transcription quoted as follows:

Town Staff: 

An Act of Parliament passed by James I at Perth in 1432 states:- 'Ane officer of regality must gae furth before his folk carrying ane rod of staff, three quarters of a yaird long, tane pairt coloured reid, and tother pairt coloured quithe. Maybole, being a Burgh of Regality, had the right to carry this Staff.'

Orange Lodge: 

During the Irish Rebellion of 1789, a regiment of Militia from Ayrshire was sent across to serve in Ireland. Returning when peace was restored, some of the more ardent brought with them an orange warrant, which had been granted by the Grand Lodge of Ireland authorising them to hold and constitute an Orange Lodge in Scotland. In 1799 or 1800, the Lodge was installed on Scottish soil at Maybole. It was Scotland’s first Orange Lodge... To signify the honour that Maybole holds as being the Birthplace of Orangeism in Scotland, Grand Lodge on 26th October, 1929, instituted in the town a new lodge with the name of Loyal Orange Lodge, No. 0.

James Rodger:

He was an outstanding athlete at the end of the nineteenth century when Maybole was famous for cross-country runners and cyclists.

Carrick Sailing Club:

The Club was formed in 1950 with its centre at Girvan. The now one hundred... The club has made extensive preparations for celebrating the coronation, the members having hand-made over 500 yards of bunting. They hope on Coronation night to light four floating bonfires on Girvan Bay.

Carrick Homing Society:

A racing pigeon society existed in Maybole as early as 1910... the gambling side of the sport is discouraged, and the emphasis on pleasure rather than profit, the benefits are social and educational... her Majesty the Queen has a loft at Sandringham, and has presented Coronation trophies for the competition.

Junior Red Cross:

came into being in 1943 to encourage girls to train for the Nursing Services and to help the local Detachment in War-time. First Aid and Home Nursing classes were organised and help was given in gathering and cleaning sphagnum moss for dressings... the Junior Red Cross motto [is] 'Serve One Another'7

Sporting Spectacle

As well as there being demonstrations of various sports, there was certainly some performance aspects. The programme was as follows:

  • Weight Lifting
  • Hawking
  • Archery
  • Tournament
  • Country Dancing
  • Miming and Singing
  • Flying
  • Musical Ride [equestrian display]
  • Clay Pigeon Shooting
  • Clowns
  • Golf
  • Liberation of Pigeons.8

Performance is suggested in item 4, ‘Tournament’, and in item 6, ‘Miming and Singing’, which is described as ‘an episode’ and a ‘dramatic interlude’ that re-enacted a traditional ballad concerning the relationship between the Countess of Cassillis and the King of the Gypsies (Johnny Faa). The Golfing display was also depicted as taking place in the past.

Key historical figures mentioned

  • Robert I [Robert Bruce] (1274–1329) king of Scots
  • Knox, John (c.1514–1572) religious reformer
  • Kennedy, Quintin (c.1520–1564) abbot of Crossraguel and religious controversialist
  • Kennedy, Gilbert, fourth earl of Cassillis [nicknamed the King of Carrick] (c.1541–1576) nobleman
  • McAdam, John Loudon (1756–1836) builder and administrator of roads
  • Blane, Sir Gilbert, first baronet (1749–1834) physician
  • Burns, Robert (1759–1796) poet

Musical production

A 25-piece local band played during the procession and during a half hour interlude between the close of the Historical Procession and the start of the Sporting Spectacle. There was also a choir performing at the sporting spectacle accompanied by a pianist and violinist.

Newspaper coverage of pageant

Ayrshire Post
Ayr Advertiser

Book of words


Other primary published materials

  • The Pageant of Maybole: Coronation Souvenir Programme, written and produced by Raymond Lewis. Ayr, 1953.

Copy available in the local history section, Carnegie Library, Ayr. 941.42.

References in secondary literature


Archival holdings connected to pageant


Sources used in preparation of pageant

  • Encyclopaedia of Sports, Games and Pastimes’
  • Hare, C.E. The Language of Sport. London, 1939.
  • Lawson, Roderick. Maybole Past and Present. Paisley, 1885.
  • Paterson, James. History of the County of Ayr: With a Genealogical Account of the Families of Ayrshire. Ayr, 1847.
  • Scott, Walter. Tales of a Grandfather. First published1828.
  • Smith, John. Prehistoric man in Ayrshire. 1895.
  • Tacitus, Agricola.

A bibliography is included in the pageant souvenir programme which includes these texts. Dates and places of publication have been added where possible.


Initial planning for this pageant indicates that a theatrical spectacle was forecast: a newspaper report issued a few months before it took place quoted the author and producer of the pageant as stating that it would likely take place over ‘one or three nights’.10 The author, Raymond Lewis, had recent experience of involvement with a pageant having played the lead role of Robert Burns in the Pageant of Ayr held in 1952 to celebrate that town’s 750th anniversary of Royal Burgh status.11 He was also a keen playwright and the Producer for Maybole’s British Legion Players who under the sponsorship of the Council took charge of the pageant’s organisation. In the event, what emerged was something of a hybrid between the classic gala day procession that might be seen annually in many Lowland towns and villages in Scotland and a historical pageant. It does seem likely that in the year of the Queen’s coronation Maybole’s Town Council decided to move beyond the typical gala day events of a procession and display of dancing and sport, but initial ambitions appear to have been foiled.

According to the souvenir programme of the pageant, this was to be the main event of a week of celebrations and would take place on the Saturday preceding the Queen’s coronation (Tuesday 2 June). The local Council did hedge their bets, however, and it was stated in the programme that if the weather was inclement it would be postponed to the Saturday following (6 June) and that notices to this effect would be posted around the town.12 The weather was good and it went ahead on the initial date of the 30 May. The procession, which was organised from the town,’s Secondary School travelled around a mile through the town centre to a large area of parkland on the outskirts of Maybole. Once reached, the procession was allowed to disperse and the remainder of the day’s proceedings took place in the park. Within the procession, there were 43 historical events that, for the most part, processed in chronological order; 11 representative groups meant to show different aspects of Maybole’s contemporary community and industries followed these.

Among the historical elements, some individuals and groups moved on foot and others were housed on vehicles. The programme hints at tableau pieces amongst the groups, although there is no detailed description of what was re-enacted. In the souvenir programme authored by Lewis each of the historical ‘scenes’ is contextualised rather than described in that he gives a potted history of their relevance to Maybole. In typical fashion, therefore, following the town’s brass band and a representative of the council who carried the town’s’ Staff’, the first dramatic element to appear are prehistoric people. Thereafter a cavalcade of Scottish pageant favourites makes an appearance including Bruce and Burns. However, the most prominent theme in this pageant is the troubled religious heritage of this part of Scotland. In one tableau, John Knox ‘is seen in a heated debate’ with the Abbot of Crossraguel—a famous encounter which is supposed to have lasted for three days in 1562.13 In another, the infamous ‘roasting of the Commendator’ of Crossraguel, a man named Allan Stewart, who was tortured by the Earl of Cassillis in 1570 in an effort to force Stewart to relinquish church lands, was also displayed. It is worth remarking too that the non-denominational allegiances seen in many pageants’ organisational structures did not apply in Maybole where depictions of pre-reformation church events were organised by the local Catholic priest; it seems likely that the history of the Episcopal Church was also dealt with by a Minister from that institution.14 Given that this part of Scotland was the cradle of covenanting and Maybole itself the home to Scotland’s founding Orange Lodge, which is also portrayed in the historical procession, this kind of religious factionalism was perhaps not surprising.

Of note also is the fact that the procession included representations from organisations that became active in the locality during both world wars, this perhaps because the British Legion was the principal organising group for the pageant. Once arrived at the park, a musical concert was held in order to give time for everyone to assemble in order to view the third part of the pageant: ‘The ‘Sporting Spectacle’. This included a medieval tournament in which two of the Knights were actually played by female riders! Lewis also took the opportunity to perform in a re-enactment of the traditional ballad, Johnny Faa and the Earl of Cassillis; in such ways, Lewis may have retained some parts of his original vision for the pageant, and a newspaper report describes ‘miming and singing’.15 According to local newspaper accounts, the event was well attended and the costumes stood out ‘effectively against a background of trees’; it was remarked that every effort had been made ‘to depict authentically the scene whether from history or representative of present industry’.16 Although it is clear that Lewis did not lack ambition, the Pageant of Maybole was perhaps a compromise between a traditional gala day and a theatrical performance. In all it included perhaps 400 local people and certainly contained many familiar themes seen in Scottish historical pageants. It is only possible to speculate on the reasons why the town in the end did not choose to have a staged pageant. This decision may have come down to cost, the short time span allocated for organising the pageant, or a lack of local willingness to give up entirely on a more familiar and traditional form of celebration within which much more of the town’s economic, social and cultural heritage could be included.


  1. ^ The Pageant of Maybole: Coronation Souvenir Programme, written and produced by Raymond Lewis (Ayr, 1953), 5.
  2. ^ Ibid., 45.
  3. ^ Ibid., 2.
  4. ^ Pageant of Maybole, information about events on back cover.
  5. ^ Pageant of Maybole, 4.
  6. ^ ‘Order of Procession’ in ibid., 30-1.
  7. ^ Extracts from a longer list named ‘Notes on Procession’ in Ibid., 34-6.
  8. ^ ‘Sporting Spectacle’ in ibid., 37.
  9. ^ ‘Cast in Spectacle’ in Ibid., 47
  10. ^ ‘Maybole Pageant’, Ayrshire Post, 20 February 1953, 10.
  11. ^ ‘Ayr Pageant Principals’, Ayrshire Post, 4 April 1952, 9.
  12. ^ Pageant of Maybole, 4.
  13. ^ Crossraguel Abbey was established by the Earl of Carrick, who invited Cluniac Monks from Paisley Abbey in the 13th century; its ruins can still be visited.
  14. ^ Rev. Father Meaney is listed in the Programme as taking charge of pre-reformation church aspects of the procession, see Pageant of Maybole, 45.
  15. ^ Ayrshire Post, 5 June 1953, p.5.
  16. ^ Ibid.

How to cite this entry

Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘The Pageant of Maybole’, The Redress of the Past,