THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: Densely packed crowds watch record breaking Twelfth procession

From the News Letter, July 12, 1937

Sunday, 12th July 2020, 6:00 am
A Twelfth parade makes its way over the Old Bridge in Coleraine to Killowen in 2007
A Twelfth parade makes its way over the Old Bridge in Coleraine to Killowen in 2007

Although heavy rain fell at intervals during The Twelfth celebrations in Belfast in 1937, reported the News Letter, it had proved to be a great success.

The News Letter stated: “It is believed that the procession to Woodlands, Finaghy, was the largest on record. Many of the individual lodges turned out at full strength, and there were more bands than ever before. The procession took two hours and 37 minutes to pass a given point, and this time exceeds the previous ‘best’ by nearly 25 minutes.”

The News Letter continued: “Dense crowds lined the processional route along its entire length. Many of the spectators took up their positions some hours before the leading lodge started from Carlisle Circus at 10am. Hundreds of people made their way to the field early in the morning and until the rain came down enjoyed a ‘lake’ and a picnic luncheon in pleasant surroundings. In Royal Avenue, Donegall Place and, indeed, on a great part of the Lisburn Road, the crowds were packed so tightly that the outer files of the marchers brushed against the front row of the spectators, and men carrying banners were often inconvenienced by lack of room.”

Sir Joseph Davison, County Grand Master and officers of the Grand Lodge headed the procession with No 1 District leading. With Sir Joseph were Lieutenant Colonel T Ashmore Kidd, MP, Past Grand Master Grand Lodge of British America and Mr E N Mitchell, Grand Master of Ontario East, Canada.

Other distinguished representatives of the Order from overseas had seats in the various district brakes. Meanwhile, visitors from abroad were also given a fine reception by the crowds along the route.

The first band in the procession set a “smart military pace” for the marchers which was generally maintained by the lodges, noted the News Letter.

The paper added: “Here and there the time was broken by the slower tempo of bagpipe bands or the leisurely ‘walk’ of an occasional drumming party.”

The paper continued: “Some of the bands were extremely smart in well cut colourful uniforms. In style, appearance, and musical ability they endeavour, often very successfully, to emulate the standard of a British Army military band.”