Perhaps I had ambitions to be an MP - or an undertaker!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Is this picture real? Can there be a place with such a variety of colours? I got it from and no information was given.


The Depression made the 1930s a very difficult period for many folk in Scotland. During 1931-1933 more than a quarter of the workforce were unemployed.

One of the biggest projects of the time, the construction of the Cunard liner the Queen Mary, which had begun in 1930, came to a stop the following year and 3,000 men were laid off. Work was not resumed till 1934.

My own family were fortunate, for my father’s job as a grocer with the Co-operative was secure, and as a boy I had no idea of the problems that others were experiencing.

During that decade there were 3 major events which helped to brighten up an otherwise colourless time.

1935 saw the Silver Jubilee celebrations for King George V and Queen Mary. I don’t know if this was observed on any great scale in Scotland. I think we children received commemoratory mugs. I was interested to see that the village of Treeton in South Yorkshire made a real day of it.
This was their programme on 6th May -
10.30 am - procession to church
10.45 am - church service
12.00 to 12.30 pm - church bells
1.00 pm - carnival pageant
2.45 pm - crowning of May Queen and Maypole dancing
3.30 pm - tea for junior children in church schoolroom
4.15 pm - tea for senior children in church schoolroom
4.40 pm - sports in canteen field
7.00 pm - entertainment for old folk in church schoolroom (refreshments and smokes will be provided)
8.30 pm - presentation of prizes for the best dressed horse, vehicles, cycles, pedestrians and - perambulators!!!
10.00 pm - bonfire and fireworks

But that wasn’t all. “The Rother Vale Treeton Prize Band will entertain throughout the Day.”

Well, that really was grand day out!

The second important event was the Coronation of George VI and Queen Elizabeth on 12th May 1937. Again I don’t remember much about it, but I’m pretty sure we were taken to one of the local cinemas by our school. What film we saw, I don’t know.

Then the following year there was the Empire Exhibition in Glasgow during the summer months. This was truly a huge undertaking which attracted 13 million visitors.

We were taken there by our parents. I was aged 12 at that time, but I think that the whole thing was just too big for me to take in and to appreciate. (A 12 year old boy today is much more grown-up than a 12 year old then.) I vaguely remember huge modern-like buildings with names like South Africa, India, Canada, etc. There was a big tower and wonderful fountains. I don’t recall seeing Billy Butlin’s 16-acre amusement park and that surprises me.

Three things are still clear in my mind. A robot in evening dress which entertained the crowds by making jerky movements; he turned out to be a real man!

A clachan - a highland village showing the kind of little houses people lived in long ago.

And the midgets! The publicity pictures showed very tiny people, but once inside we saw that they weren’t all that small! Dressed as toy soldiers, they did a march routine to the music of “The Parade of the Tin Soldiers.”

And ever since then, when I hear that music, I remember the Empire Exhibition.


The work on the Queen Mary was eventually completed and she set off on her maiden voyage on 27th May 1936.

Since 1967 the liner has been permanently based at Long Beach, California where she operates as a hotel and museum. During that time many stories have been circulating and it’s claimed that the vessel is haunted.

There have been unexplained clanging noises.
A woman in an old-fashioned swimming costume has been seen preparing to dive into a disused empty pool, but she suddenly vanishes; it was later discovered that a woman had drowned in that pool.
A guard was passing watertight door No 13, when his dog stopped and refused to pass it; there had been a fatal accident there, when the door had crushed a young man. On another occasion a female guide was surprised by a ghostly figure, whom she later identified from an old photograph as being the unfortunate young man.

There have been other strange occurrencies. It’s said that the most frightening one happened when the liner was making her final voyage to California. A marine engineer heard a commotion down below - a crunching of metal, the sound of rushing water and men screaming. And this phenomenon has apparently been experienced at other times.

It has been suggested that this last incident is a replay of a collision in which the vessel was involved in 1942 off the Irish coast. The Queen Mary, escorted by HMS Curacoa and 6 destroyers, was carrying nearly 20,000 American servicemen to join the Allies; she was taking a zig-zag course to make things difficult for U-boats. Tragically she bumped into the stern of the Curacoa which broke in two and sank. On the liner a slight bump had been felt, but they sailed on, most of the crew unaware of what had happened.


I’m finishing now on a happier note. This is a lovely idea. I’m all for it!!


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