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Gala and Heather Day in the Duthie Park
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Gala and Heather Day in the Duthie Park

Historic Photographs
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Gala and Heather Day in the Duthie Park
Historic Photographs
Gala and Heather Day in the Duthie Park
This Adelphi Series postcard shows the Gala Day taking place in Duthie Park on 21st August 1915.

The Gala in Duthie Park and the accompanying Heather Day were both organised to raise funds for the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

The Gala Day is one of largest events ever to take place at the park. It was estimated that between 25,000 and 26,000 people attended. Tickets cost 6 pence (6d) for general admission and 2s 6d for carriages or motor cars.

Within the park there was an elaborate programme of entertainment and refreshments organised. Details of the programme were published in a 32 page booklet prior to the event. Upwards of 1,300 people took part in the programme.

Gates to the park opened at 3pm and the event officially commence at 3pm with a grand military parade. Lieut-Colonel A. H. Leith of Glenkindie, Garrison Commander, and Lord Provost James Taggart "took the salute" opposite the Hygiea statue.

The Gala and Heather Day were organised by a distinct committee; Taggart was its president and Alexander Findlay, Superintendent of Cleansing, was its chairman. Councillor H. J. Gray was the secretary and treasurer and Mr John Lints was his assistant. There were also conveners and secretaries for various sub-committees concerned with aspects like entertainment and refreshments.

There was a wide range of entertainment organised for within the park including singing, dancing, gymnastic displays, musical drill, motor cycle gymkhana and bayonet fighting. Various platforms saw performances from acts such as a company lead by D. M. Kinghorn, pierrots directed by Minnie Mearns, Dan Williams, and W. A. Craig's operatic choir. Charles Soutar lead a 500 strong choir of children from the city's public schools.

Practically all naval and military units present in the city were represented at the event and individuals from many of them took part in the sporting competitions. The day also included a 5-a-side football and tug of war competition. Preliminary matches for these took place prior to the day at Pittodrie Park.

The Gala Day was filmed and this was later shown as part of a special programme at the Picture House on Union Street from the 25th of the month.

Over £500 was taken at the gates for the event. Entertainment and refreshments within further increased the figure raised.

Heather Day itself generated another £474. This involved over 1,500 vendors going around all parts of the city selling sprigs of the plant. The sale started on the afternoon of the Friday and continued all through Saturday. Entertainment venues throughout the city were also visited.

The vendors were primarily young women and members of organisations like the boys brigade. Stores present in all areas of the city were replenished from a central depot at 173a Union Street. This in turn was supplied by the cleansing department buildings in Poynernook Road, where the preceding week had seen 200,000 sprigs prepared for sale. Peterhead, Inverurie, Ellon and Banchory organised their own Heather Days for the same fund.

The sum taken from both the Gala and the Heather Day was estimated at considerably over £1,000.

See the report in the Aberdeen Journal, Monday 23rd August 1915 page 8, for further details about the occasion.
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