Glencairn Memorial for Fallen Soldiers

Glencairn Parish Council met in December 1918 when they ‘decided to form themselves into a committee’ to consider ‘the question of raising a memorial for the soldiers belonging to the parish who had fallen in the war,’ and ‘bring the matter before the public at a later date.’

The second public meeting was held on Friday 21st March 1919. Opionions on how the objective should be carried out lacked uniformity and these were raised at the meeting where the Chairman, Major McCall of Caitloch, submitted the recommend-ations of the committee. (1) Similar memorial tablets be erected in each of the two churches. (2) An institute be proceeded with as far as funds will allow. (3) A donation be allocated to enable the present hall at Wallaceton to be put on a better footing. He went on to say that the institute would ‘consist of a writing room, reading room, billiard room, recreation room and a hall. In an appropriate place on the outside would be erected a memorial tablet bearing the names of those who had fallen.’

These suggestions were seconded by Mr Graham F. Macara, merchant, but objected to by Mr Kelly, Hunter’s Lodge, seconded by Mr T. Todd, Dunreggan, who wanted a more conventional war memorial. The parish minister, the Rev: J.A. Findlay, who had some sympathy with the latter view, had on reconsideration, supported the idea that they should ‘provide something useful for the living as well as a memorial for the dead.’As the meeting got increasingly heated the chairman felt compelled to ask that, ‘if the meeting were not satisfied they could appoint another committee to go into the question again.’ The report was finally approved by 66 votes to 17.

In May 1919 ‘a congregational meeting of the Glencairn and Moniaive United Free Church’ was held to consider ‘the disposal of the church and manse in Chapel Street to the War Memorial Committee,’ which was unanimously adopted. It was not until the following January that ‘impressive closing services were held by Rev: John Cairns, Dumfries.’

In May 1920 special services were held in ‘Glencairn Parish Church and the United Free Church, on the occasion of the unveiling of the memorial tablets.’ These were ‘the work of Messrs Stewart, McGlasher and Son Ltd:, Edinburgh’, and consist of ‘central panels of white marble surmounted by a bronze festoon of laurels.’ The Parish Church memorial is enclosed in a polished alabaster frame and that in the UF Church has a frame of green marble.

Meanwhile the committee’s key consideration was how to raise the money for these ambitious objectives. All corners of the parish were visited by collectors to ask for cash or promises to pay, with the result that the committee felt confident to proceed. Then in 1920 another sub-committee was formed to plan a grand sale of work and fête to be held the following August. A special train was arranged from Dumfries also buses from surrounding villages, so that ‘by mid-afternoon upwards of 1500 persons were present.’ Stalls selling a wide variety of useful and ornamental articles were set up in the upper hall and tea was available downstairs. Outside in the adjoining field there were deck quoits, target shooting, penny in the plate and other competitions. There was a pipe band, clock golf in the Bank House garden and the 1st Cairn Valley Guides had buttonholes for sale.

The Glencairn War Memorial Institute was formally opened on 4th December 1921 by Lieut: Col: W.D. Young Herries. Nearly £3,000 had been raised by the efforts of the parishioners. Four hundred people crammed into the upper hall. The singing of psalm 100 was followed by a Bible reading and prayer. Colonel Herries then spoke of the great sacrifice that the parish had endured and concluded by saying: “May this Institute greatly prosper, and may it fulfill the primary object for which it has been erected. May peace prevail within its walls, and may those who enter it ever bear in mind those whose sacred memory it is dedicated.”

The  names on the long list of soldiers was then read and the Roll of Honour downstairs was unveiled and several wreaths placed underneath.
A.B. Hall

Dumfries and Galloway Standard
Dumfries and Galloway Courier and Herald
Memorial Institute Minute Book

Note: The illustrations have kindly been provided by Dumfries and Galloway Libraries and Mrs Gladys Cuttle.
© A.B. Hall