George Robertson Fancy Dress - Dunbar Gala Day 1922

Dunbar Gala Days – A Clerical Error

This month features some photos from the 1920s and focuses on Dunbar Gala days. The photos from the Fancy Dress Parade have been given by DDHS member George Robertson, who has also provided additional information about the photos.

Gala Day 19th July 1922 (Click on all photos to enlarge – recommended)

The poster above is pages 2 and 3 of the programme for Dunbar’s Gala Day in 1922.  As the enlarged poster shows, this part of the Gala Day took place in Cowan’s Park, which was a wide green expanse taking in today’s Bleaching Field and Dunbar Primary School. In the other 2 pages of the programme, it is noted that there will be Children’s Sports in Cowan’s Park; an auction conducted by Mr George Low; and a Fancy Dress Ball in the Assembly Rooms at 9pm. The programme states that the profits from the Gala Day will to to “Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and Local Charities”. This may have been an annual event during the 1920s, as the Organising Committee urged people to surpass the £160 raised for charity in 1921. This is the equivalent of about £9000 today. Of interest in the poster is the reference to Farm Servants in the Fancy Dress Parade. Despite it being 1922, farm workers were still referred to as servants, an indication of how they were regarded. In the Sports section, there is a Living Wheelbarrow Race,Four-Legged Race and Quoiting – throwing hoops of various sizes and weights on to metal spikes. The John Gray Centre notes the establishment of a “four pin quoiting ground” at  Beltonford Paper Mill (photo and 1865 plans for) in the 1890s.

Dunbar Gala 1922

The photo above, taken at the Castlepark Barracks, shows an imaginative take on a fire engine and firemen. Note the “PHIRE INGIN” powered by the “BILER” above. In the photo, on the far right is George Robertson and next to him, wearing the clown’s nose is his son, also George Robertson i.e. the grandfather and father of the present DDHS member George Robertson. The older George Robertson was by then was a retired marine engineer. He had previously worked for Parson’s Marine Turbines in Newcastle and worked on the Turbinia  (good photo), the first steam turbine powered vessel, now in the Newcastle museum. The younger George was a motor mechanic at that time working for Kirkwood’s garage and later for Colin Stark mending buses. The uniforms and axes on them were presumably borrowed from the local fire station.

Dunbar Gala Day 1922

The photo above shows another imaginative and amusing entry for the Gala Day Parade in July 1922. The Charlie Chaplin like figure on the right is the younger George Robertson. The name of the man in the pilot gear is unknown but the present George Robertson suggested ” I know my father was friendly with the then owner of (I think) the Bellevue Hotel. He took my father flying in a DH Moth (photo of a 1920s DH.51) aircraft and gave him a camera to take an aerial shot of his hotel. This chap may have been him, because that looks like authentic pilot gear for the period”. The pilot is holding what may have been a model of a DH Moth in his left hand, and – a sign of the times – a cigarette in his right hand. It is not recorded how many flights to Mars were done on the day.

Dunbar Gala Day 1922

The final photo shows the younger George Robertson on the left, on an early motor scooter. You can watch a 1920 video of a motor scooter race here. George is dressed as a vicar and the sign on the front of his scooter reads “A CLERICAL ERROR” – a clever pun. There appear to be several other motor bikes in the photo and this may have been a display as well as a fancy dress parade. Also of interest in the photo (best enlarged) is the extent of Cowan’s Park at this time. There is a clear sight of the parish church to the top left of the photo and the railway line on the right. So, in1 922, you were in the country as soon as you came down from the High Street.