The Old Kirk Sunday School Excursion was a day to be remembered: a day full of excitement, good will and a coming together of the village folk of Kilmacolm. It wasn’t only for the Sunday School children and their teachers, it was for everybody who wanted to come and it always happened on the third Wednesday in June. Now, in those days the shops in Kilmacolm had a half-holiday every Wednesday except the third one which was a full day off. I can remember thinking it was lucky that was the trip day, but of course it was no accident. I should think perhaps the grownups had to have a ticket, but the children weren’t bothered about that! Everybody looked forward to the day and hoped for sunny weather. I don’t ever remember a wet day for it.
On the big day, we all had to be ready in good time and make our way to the station. One year, we had recently acquired a wee Cairn Terrier puppy called Mac. We couldn’t leave him alone at home so he came along to the Trip with us! There were crowds of people filling the train, all the Mothers and Aunties and Grannies, the shop people – all happy and looking forward to a great day out. When we got to the Station the men of the Kilmacolm Pipe Band were there to play us on to the train, which must have been a special train for the occasion. The Band came to the trip too. The excitement was incredible and it grew when we reached Princes Pier and there was the steamer awaiting. I doubt if there was a comparable village anywhere that had such a well-attended excursion! I’ve already written of the joy of sailing down the Clyde and seeing the engines and so on, but just imagine the stir of all these children! I take my hat off to the teachers etc. who had the responsibility. Of course most children had their Mothers with them.
Off we sailed until we arrived at ……..wherever it was that year. It might have been Dunoon, or Kilcreggan or somewhere else. As long as the water was there and a good field available, plus a hall in case it rained, it didn’t really matter where we were. It seemed an immense gathering of people to us, most of whom we knew by sight if not by name. When all were settled in the field it was time to eat. I can’t remember whether everyone was provided for or if it was just the children. Probably all were, but scholars would be free. I’m fairly sure we had a Scotch pie and probably a cake, and each would have their ‘tinny’, a white enamel mug with a blue line round the rim or something similar, probably on a string over their shoulder, ready for the drink to come.
Once the clearing up was over, the races would begin. Mac stayed with Mum while Annabel and I romped around and took part in the sack and egg and spoon races. It was actually potato and spoon! There were a lot of them for different age groups, including the adults. Straight running, egg and spoon, sack, wheelbarrow, three-legged and more. But I liked the Pipe Bandsmen’s race best – it was great fun. They all ran with their kilts flying – I can see them still in my memory. The pipers ran blowing their chanters, the drummers ran beating their drums and the Big Drum player made the biggest noise of all, booming over all the others. It was really spectacular and got lots of applause. The Mums and Grans may have sat around on the grass enjoying the leisure, but the children expended every ounce of energy available! Then it was home again, tired but happy, ready to tell the Dads all about it.
The trip would be well mulled over next day as people met in the street and at shop counters. The children would chatter about who won what and the porpoises and gulls they saw. I never did find out why the musicians on the steamers were called German Bands, but they certainly added to the euphoria that hovered all around! Memories of almost eighty years ago may sometimes be tinged with nostalgia, and another person might remember differently. But this is how I remember one of the highlights of our village life which has stayed with me all these many years.