The Story of the West: A Pageant of the Britons, the Vikings, the Traders and the Clans
Place: Garscube Estate (Glasgow) (Glasgow, Glasgow City, Scotland)
Number of performances: 7
23–29 June 1928
Name of pageant master and other named staff
- Organiser of Pageant [Pageant Master]: McClintock, George
- Assistant Organiser: Walter Scott, Esq.
- Producer: A. Parry Gunn, Esq.
- Musical Director: Herbert A. Carruthers, Esq. (by courtesy of B.B.C.)
- Property Master: W. Henry, Esq.
- Chief Marshall: C. Herrit, Esq.
- Writer of Scenario & Historical Adviser: George Eyre-Todd, Esq, FSA (Scotland)
Names of executive committee or equivalent
- Chairman: Sir Iain Colquhoun, Bart., of Luss, D.S.O.
- Hon. Treasurer: Lieut.-Col Norman McLeod, C.M.G., D.S.O.
- Sir John Samuel, K.B.E., D.L.
- George Eyre-Todd, Esq., J.P., F.S.A. (Scot.)
- Jas. Dalrymple, Esq., C.B.E., J.P.
- Prof. R.W. Dron, M.Inst., C.E.
- Dr. J. Forbes Webster, L.D.S.
- Lachlan Mackinnon, Esq.
- Col. Hugh B. Spens, D.S.O.
- Sir Thomas Paxton, Bart., LL.D., J.P.
- Matthew Robin, Esq., O.B.E.
- Mrs Hourston
- Hon. Organiser: Lieut.-Col. George McClintock, D.S.O.
- Assistant Organiser: Walter Scott, Esq.
- Convenor of Ladies Committee/Organiser of Costume Department: Mrs Chalmers
- Costume Designers: Originalities, Glasgow
- Bankers: The Clydesdale Bank Limited
- Auditors: Hourston & MacFarlane, C.A.
- Insurance: Northern Assurance Company, Ltd.
- Insurance Brokers: Robertson, Urquhart & Co., Ltd., 4 Moorgate, London, EC2
- Official Advertising Agents: The Osborne Peacock Co. Ltd, 82 Gordon St, Glasgow, C1
- His Grace the Duke of Montrose
- Convenor: Mrs Chalmers
- Convenor: Herbert K. Wood, Esq.
127 on General Committee in total, made up of 99 men and 28 women. Lots of titled (Sir, Lady) and military (especially Colonel).
Work on the pageant began on 1 February by Hon. Organiser, assistant organiser, a staff of three typists and a finance clerk. A large corps of voluntary workers (150) busily engaged in the two months leading up to the pageant in the 25 departments ‘each of which has grown to such dimensions as to resemble a large business’.
Names of script-writer(s) and other credited author(s)
- Eyre-Todd, George
Names of composers
- Carruthers, Herbert A.
Numbers of performers7000
Horses are mentioned but there are no indication of numbers.
The programme states that ‘The final touch of romance to this stupendous undertaking is the fact that many of the Historical Characters will be represented by their direct descendants, e.g.
- Episode 1. Rhydderch Hael: Marquis of Douglas and Clydesdale
- Episode 2. Prince David: Captain George Campbell, Yr. of Succoth; Prince David’s wife: Mrs George Campbell, Yr. of Succoth
Full financial information is not available for this pageant. Some costs referred to are:
- £200 salary for Mr George Montgomerie, original organiser (who died in March 1920)
- £212 salary for replacement, Lieut.-Col George McClintock
- £103 for selection of costumes used in Scottish Historical Pageant, Craigmillar Castle (1927)
The pageant resulted in a deficit of approx. £3000.
Object of any funds raised
The Incorporated Glasgow Dental Hospital.
The Incorporated Glasgow Dental Hospital, described as ‘the “Cinderella” of the Glasgow Hospitals’. £90000 in total is stated as being required to build and adequately equip a new Hospital.
- Grandstand: Yes
- Grandstand capacity: 16600
- Total audience: n/a
Total audience capacity: 116200
Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest
- Range of prices available (with all more expensive on the Friday 29 June performance): 2s. 6d., 5s., 10s., 21s., 42s.
- Friday 29 June performances: 3s. 6d., 7s. 6d., 12s. 6d., 30s., 60s.
Associated eventsNone known
Episode I. The Legend of Languoreth
The King of Strathclyde, Rhydderch Hael, and his new Queen Langoureth ride home and are welcomed by the people with song and dance. Having quarrelled with her husband, the Queen encourages the advances of a handsome forester, and allows him to take the King’s ring from her finger and place it on his own. The King sees this happen and in a later scene, takes the ring from the sleeping forester and throws it into the river. St. Mungo walks along the bank of the Molendinar stream, despairing at having been unable to convert the Britons of Strathclyde to Christianity, and implores a sign from heaven—and then finds the ring. He returns it to a distressed Queen Languoreth who has sought his help (but first he ‘admonishes the Queen for her unseemly conduct’), who is then able to reconcile with the King and secure royal forgiveness—all thanks to St. Mungo. The King agrees to accept the Christian faith.
Episode II. The Invasion of Somerled
King David I is installed as Prince of the Britons of Strathclyde and festivities commence, during which Viking ships appear in the river, cause panic, and then are driven off by the Prince and his bodyguard. Young adventurers from the south and the Order of the Knights of St. John are welcomed to counter the great Viking Invasion. Somerled, Lord of the Isles, his Viking host and horsemen and chariots land and set off to attack Renfrew but are opposed by a body of the Knights of St. John—but as they are few in number, they are driven back. The High Steward and his followers in conjunction with the Knights of St. John charge and slay Somerled and his eldest son, driving off the Vikings. A procession of monks are then given a charter for the founding of Paisley Abbey in commemoration of the victory.
Episode III. The Story of Glasgow’s Trade (three parts)
Part I (1258):
As country people and merchants arrive for Glasgow Fair, the Magistrates and halbert men of Rutherglen (Royal Burgh to south-west of Glasgow) stop them and demand payment of dues but are rescued by the Provost of Glasgow and others. Scenes of Glasgow Fair merriment (e.g. jugglers and dancers) before arrival of King Alexander II and his cavalcade of knights and dames, who are met by Bishop William de Bondington and his churchmen. King hands Bishop a charter forbidding taking of tolls by Rutherglen bailies west of cross of Shettleston. Moves to scene of dedication and opening of Glasgow Cathedral.
Part II (1600):
Great Wapinschaw on Glasgow Green. Fourteen incorporated trades armed and led by its respective Deacon (or visitor) march on the Green, as do the Merchants led by their Captains. Dispute over positions to be taken resolved by the Provost, George Elphinstone, who directs them to their positions and then takes up his own with Magistrates and the Council, Regents of the College and the Glasgow notables and ladies. King James VI. arrives with his Court, hears some music, knights the Provost, approves the famous Letter of Guildry (which settles all disputes between the Trades and Merchants), gives a prize for the Wapinschaw, and then departs to lodge with the Earl of Eglinton in Drygate.
Part III (Reign of Charles II):
Drunken porters and sailors load Provost Walter Gibson’s ships for France and Virginia. Covenanters taken prisoner at the Battle of Bothwell Bridge are loaded onto ships amid weeping and farewells to be sent as slaves to the plantations. Ships sail away. Gibson and women return to town (some young men are beginning to play golf) when Sir George Maxwell of Pollok and Robert Luke, manager of the new Soaperie, rush to meet one of the ships of their new Whale-Fishing Company, which they unload and convey to town. Meanwhile a detachment of Dragoons led by John Graham of Claverhouse gallops down to meet a boat bringing load of a Dutch ship captured at sea back to the city.
Episode IV. Prince Charles Edward in Glasgow
(Christmas Week 1745). Scrap between ‘Collegians’ and apprentices (town/gown) on Glasgow Green, stopped when Provost Cochran and some Magistrates arrive to seek 1000 volunteers to defend country against the Jacobite Army. Enthusiastic response and lads march off with Earl of Home to be enrolled and armed. Protest of Tobacco Lords complaining about Custom House being closed and tobacco un-discharged in harbour—shown warrant for raising forces and sent on their way. Glasgow women and servant maids doing washing on grass (including tramping blankets in tubs) until volunteers doing their drill march over some of the bleaching linen and are assailed and driven off by the women. Cry that Highlanders are coming goes out, and the Highland Army (organised into Clans) arrives and makes demands on the Provost, with Glasgow described as a ‘rebel city’. ‘A bevy of Glasgow ladies’ goes to watch review of Prince’s army on Glasgow Green, including Clementina Walkinshaw, daughter of the Laird of Barrowfield and god-daughter of the Prince’s mother. Prince and Clemintina ‘have a moment’ (‘he meets Clementina, and holds her hand in a long clasp as they look earnestly into each other’s eyes’). Bugle calls, clans form into columns, Prince goes to head, and they march off to Culloden.
Key historical figures mentioned
- Rhydderch Hen (fl. c.573–c.612) king of Strathclyde [also known as Riderch, Ryderch, Hael]
- Kentigern [St Kentigern, Mungo] (d. 612x14) patron of the diocese (later archdiocese) of Glasgow [also known as Mungo]
- Alexander I (d. 1124) king of Scots
- David I (c.1085–1153) king of Scots
- Somerled (d. 1164) king of the Hebrides and regulus of Argyll and Kintyre
- Arthur (supp. fl. in or before 6th cent.) legendary warrior and supposed king of Britain [also known as Artorius ?, King]
- Alexander II (1198–1249) king of Scots
- James IV (1473–1513) 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
- Walkinshaw, Clementine, styled countess of Albestroff (c.1720–1802) mistress of Prince Charles Edward Stuart
Musical productionThere is very little reference to music in the official programme.
- ‘Plainsong’ (sung at close of St Mungo episode). Grand Historical Pageant, Garscube, Glasgow, 23-30 June 1928, Choral Music (engraved and printed by Aird & Coghill Ltd, Glasgow), 1.
- ‘Plainsong’ (sung as Bishop and People leave the Dedication of the Cathedral). Choral Music, 2.
- ‘What Shall we do with the Drunken Sailor?’ Sea shanty (probably Episode III Part III). Choral Music, 3.
- ‘Hullabalo Belay’ (probably Episode III, Part III). Choral Music, 4.
- ‘103rd psalm’ (no episode specified). Choral Music, 5.
- ‘Wha’ll be King but Charlie?’ (probably Episode IV), Choral Music, 6-7.
- ‘124th Psalm’ (probably Episode IV), Choral Music, 8.
- Ends with National Anthem.
Newspaper coverage of pageant
Book of words
Other primary published materials
- Historical Pageant: The Story of the West, Garscube Estate, Glasgow, 23rd–29th June 1928. Glasgow, 1928. Souvenir Programme (1 shilling). Available in Glasgow City Archives, the Mitchell Library, TD219/62.
- Grand Historical Pageant, Garscube, Glasgow, 23–30 June 1928, Choral Music. Glasgow, 1928. Available in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Archives (records of the Glasgow Dental Hospital and School), the Mitchell Library, HB90/3/48.
References in secondary literature
- Henderson, T.B. The History of the Glasgow Dental Hospital and School 1879-1979. Glasgow, 1979.
- McKenzie, F.A. Wonderful Britain. Its Highways, Byways and Historic Places (Vol 2). In chapter ‘The Past re-created in Pageantry’. See http://oreald.com/picture999.html
- Wallis, Mick. ‘Delving the levels of memory and dressing up in the past’. In British Theatre Between the Wars, 1918-1939, edited by C. Barker and M.B. Gale, 190-214 Cambridge, 2007.
Archival holdings connected to pageant
- GB133 FRD The Papers of Robert Donat (actor), John Rylands University Library, University of Manchester. GB133 FRDI/8/13/7 Book of stage directions, settings, prompts, etc., as well as some photographs (Robert Donat a marshall at the Craigmillar Pageant).
- NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Archives (records of the Glasgow Dental Hospital and School), the Mitchell Library. HB90/2/3 Board Minutes (1920-31), HB90/3/1 Annual Reports (1885-1939), HB9003/47 Souvenir Programme, HB903/48 Choral Music.
- Glasgow City Archives, Mitchell Library, TD219/62.
Sources used in preparation of pageant
‘For two and a half crowded hours ghostly figures from Scottish pageantry, wild, staid, pompous, and romantic, live a brief while again as they slowly cross the stage, linger, and disappear back into the pages of the history books.’1
‘The Story of the West’ was an ambitious historical pageant that sought to tell the story of the west of Scotland ‘in Four Great Episodes’ spanning the sixth to the eighteenth centuries: The Legend of Languoreth, The Invasion of Somerled, The Story of Glasgow’s Trade (told in three parts), and Prince Charles Edward in Glasgow. The pageant took place at Garscube Estate in the west of the city, the home of Sir Archibald and Lady Campbell of Succoth, and advertised a total of 7000 performers and grandstand capacity of 16,600 for each of the seven scheduled performances. The Glasgow pageant emphasised its historical credentials, pointing to its use of individuals related to the figures they were playing. Indeed, the Souvenir Programme (sold for a shilling) noted: ‘The final touch of romance to this stupendous undertaking is the fact that many of the Historical Characters will be represented by their direct descendants.’2 The Writer of Scenario and Historical Advisor, the historian George Eyre-Todd, took responsibility for the attention to detail promised in The Story of the West. He was also responsible for suggesting the idea of having a pageant in the first place, pitching the idea in late August 1927 and approaching and securing the service of Walter G. Montgomery, the Honorary Organiser who had helped make such a success of the Scottish Historical Pageant at Craigmillar Castle in Edinburgh in July 1927.3 Sir Iain Colquhoun, Bart., of Luss was appointed Chairman of the Executive Committee in November 1927, and Eyre-Todd was instructed to formally engage Montgomery, who began work on the pageant in early 1928 with the help of his assistant organiser, a staff of three typists and a finance clerk (amongst others). A large corps of voluntary workers (150) had also been busily engaged in the two months leading up to the pageant in the twenty-five different departments, ‘each of which has grown to such dimensions as to resemble a large business’.4 Pointing to the existence of a historical pageantry market, reference was made to a payment of £103 being made for a selection of the costumes used in the Scottish National Pageant the previous summer (at a quarter of the price it would have cost for new costumes).5
At this stage, the stage looked set for a successful pageant, one that might mirror—or even surpass—the warm reception and financial successes of the 1927 Scottish Historical Pageant. But the drama contained in the historical pageant extended beyond its ‘Four Great Episodes’. The most tragic of these was the untimely death of its Organiser, Walter G. Montgomery, in March 1928, which meant that a replacement (Col. George McClintock) had to be drafted in less than three months before the first performance took place. In mid-May, the pageant attracted some negative publicity when the Glasgow Herald reported a ‘Roman Catholic Protest’, after a formal complaint was made about ‘noteworthy omission of the Catholic Church’ from the pageant.6 This is interesting given the sectarianism that was a feature of lowland Scotland at this time, a period in which public discussion of the ‘Irish Menace’ was particularly vehement and widespread. And then, at the end of May, the Writer of Scenario and Historical Advisor, George Eyre-Todd, tendered his resignation citing a range of issues largely arising from the difficulties that having two Secretaries on the Pageant Committee had created. He felt that this arrangement had produced problems that, had he been allowed to work ‘without interference’, might have helped to avoid the ‘enormous expense’ of the grandstands of Garscube, as well as the ‘disheartening conditions’ that were becoming ‘increasingly disagreeable’.7 Although a resolution kept Eyre-Todd on board until he resigned once again in October 1928, the minutes of these meetings illustrate the tensions and difficulties that were experienced amongst the main organisers.
The Story of the West began with the legend of St Mungo and the founding of the city of Glasgow (and arrival of Christianity to the area), starring the mythical King of Strathclyde, Rhydderch Hael, and Queen Langoureth. The following episode, set in the eleventh century, featured Viking attacks and battles between the Vikings and the Britons in ‘strenuous’ fighting scenes that were so realistic that a total of 150 injuries were reported, although none were classified as ‘serious’. Indeed, there were a total of 218 injured during all the performances—perhaps shoring up the stereotypes of Glasgow as ‘no mean city’!8 The third episode actually involved three different scenes, which told the Story of Glasgow’s Trade between 1258 and the Reign of Charles II—the latter sub-episode featured a dizzying array of characters and activities, which included drunken sailors and porters, ships bound for France and Virginia, captured covenanters bound as slaves for the plantations, golfing in the background, galloping Dragoons, and a captured Dutch ship being brought back to Glasgow. In the final episode, which is set in Christmas Week 1745, the setting is the Jacobite rebellion and the raising of a force to fight the Jacobite Army at Culloden. There is a potent mix of drama, humour and romance in this episode, and an interesting representation of Scottishness familiar from picture postcards that were popular from the Victorian era onwards, that showed Scottish washerwomen—usually Highlanders—tramping their washing in tubs and in streams. In this episode, we see a scene featuring Glasgow women and servant maids doing their washing on the grass in Glasgow Green (including tramping blankets in tubs) until army volunteers doing their drill march over some of the bleaching linen and are assailed and driven off by the women! Between each episode, ‘The Heralds of the Pageant’ (four heralds on horseback) made a ‘spectacular entrance and exit at the gallop’.9
As many people know, Glasgow does not have the most temperate climate, even in the summer months, and sadly the pageant ultimately fell victim to persistent rain and cold weather. The final dress rehearsal had to be abandoned due to torrential rain which, combined with the other mishaps that had befallen the pageant committee in the run up to the pageant, should have acted as a sign that success might be difficult to achieve. Seeking to muster support and attract the public ‘to turn out in their multitudes’, the local Evening Citizen newspaper noted:
‘It is an act of courage to produce in Glasgow a pageant on a grand scale. Open-air events require for their success ideal weather conditions, and it will be a thousand pities if the tremendous effort and the vast amount of gratuitous service that has gone to the making of Glasgow’s pageant should be spoiled by cold and rain.’10
Throughout the pageant, the Evening Citizen reminded its readers that the object of this pageant was to raise funds for the Incorporated Glasgow Dental Hospital, which was described as ‘the “Cinderella” of the Glasgow Hospitals’, and urged them to show their support by making a point of attending.11 Extra performances and reduced ticket prices, including options for 2s. for the centre stand and 1s. for either wing, were publicised. It had been estimated that a total of £90,000 was needed to build and adequately equip a new Hospital, to which the Glasgow Pageant Committee hoped to make a significant contribution.12 Sadly, this was not to be. The Story of the West made a loss of just over £3000, meaning that no donations could be made to the Glasgow Dental Hospital, the building of which was delayed for some years due to a lack of funds (and compounded by the economic depression of the 1930s).13 Even a visit by HRH Prince of Wales to the afternoon performance on Friday 28 June could not rescue the pageant—the press reported that ‘The Smiling Prince’ had arrived in Glasgow ‘looking bronzed and fit’, with the sun shining. However, the 15,000 who turned up for that evening’s performance faced a ground ‘sodden’ after heavy rain, and inclement weather during the performance.14
A statement on its financial failure was issued to the press by Sir Iain Colquhoun, chairman of the pageant committee, in early August: ‘It is pointed out that in all projects of the nature of the Pageant the determining factor is the weather, and that under the conditions which were experienced success was out of the question.’15 Demonstrating the scale of the bad weather conditions, press reports described a ‘lady chorister’ who ‘suffered the effects of cold and wet’ and required an ambulance wagon, and at the end of the final performance, Colquhoun thanked ‘the little children who had waded through seas of mud night after night to carry out the dancing scenes.’16 Anecdotally, it has been suggested that this pageant was the ‘last swansong’ of the Glasgow landed gentry.
- Evening Citizen, 22 June 1928.
- Glasgow City Archives, Mitchell Library, TD219/62 – Historical Pageant: The Story of the West, Garscube Estate, Glasgow, 23rd – 29th June 1928, Souvenir Programme.
- NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Archives (records of the Glasgow Dental Hospital and School), the Mitchell Library. HB90/2/3 Board Minutes (1920-31), Minutes of Meeting of the Building Fund Executive Committee, Friday 26 Aug., 176-7.
- Historical Pageant: The Story of the West.
- NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Archives, the Mitchell Library. HB90/2/3 Board Minutes (1920-31), Minutes of Meeting of the Building Fund Executive Committee, Friday 26 August, p. 177 and Friday 30 Sept. 1927, 180.
- Glasgow Herald, 14 May 1920, 15.
- NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Archives (records of the Glasgow Dental Hospital and School), the Mitchell Library. HB90/2/3 Board Minutes (1920-31), Minutes of Meeting of the Building Fund Executive Committee, Friday 8 June 1928, 221-2.
- Evening Citizen, 2 July 1928, 1.
- Evening Citizen, 28 June 1928, 7.
- Evening Citizen, 25 June 1928, 3-4.
- Historical Pageant: The Story of the West; See e.g. Evening Citizen, 25 June 1928, 4.
- Historical Pageant: The Story of the West.
- For a statement on the financial results, see The Glasgow Herald, 7 August 1928, 7. For more on the history of the Glasgow Dental Hospital, see T.B. Henderson, The History of the Glasgow Dental Hospital and School 1879-1979 (Glasgow, 1979).
- Evening Citizen, 2 July 1928, 1.
- Glasgow Herald, 7 August 1928, 7.
- Evening Citizen, 26 June 1928, 8; 2 July 1928, 1.
How to cite this entry
Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘The Story of the West: A Pageant of the Britons, the Vikings, the Traders and the Clans’, The Redress of the Past, http://www.historicalpageants.ac.uk/pageants/1073/