Walsall & District Scottish Society
To promote the fellowship of Scots within the Borough of Walsall and surrounding district.
To liase with other Scottish Societies in the region.
To promote cultural heritage and other glories of Scotland.
To hold social events appropriate to the Society, such as annual St. Andrew's dinner dance.
To celebrate the immortal memory of the national bard of Scotland, Robert Burns with an annual dinner following traditions of such an event, which we have done since we were founded over 115 years ago, see the history of Walsall & District Scottish Society blow.
Is open to all who have paid the annual subscription, set at an A.G.M.
Membership is currently, £3.00 per member, and runs from January to December.
"The Bard" Robert Burns
The History of Walsall & District Scottish Society
Formality Walsall Burns Club
The Annual Dinner
of the Walsall Burns Club in celebration of the birthday of Robert Burns. 1921
and 1934 are missing from the sequence, but there are examples of the originals
in Acc 63/280, 294. The souvenir programme of 1920 contains illustrations of all
the menu card covers up to that date. (Some of the originals of these can be
found in Acc 743 and Acc 63.) The remainder are in the form of individual
programmes, some single sheets, and some in booklet form. Up until 1942 the
programmes were designed by William (Billy) Meikle, the only exception being
1928 when Meikle was President and the programme was designed by Ben Westwood.
The first menu card featured the 'Walsall Bear' adapted from the Arms of the
Borough of Walsall, wearing a 'Scottish' cap. The covers designed by Meikle show
the date and venue, the name of the President (and sometimes Vice-President) and
often reflect the activities of the Club, e.g. the move from the Stork to the
Dragon (1901) or a lecture on Macbeth (1913). From 1922 the programmes were
larger booklets and so featured more detail on the covers. Many showed scenes of
Walsall or places and events connected with Burns and the Walsall Bear made
regular appearances. From 1943 to 1980 the covers were designed by George
Willott ARCA, the Principal of the Walsall School of Art. The design continued
to contain the details of date, venue and names of chief officers, but featured
just one illustration, mostly of Robert Burns. In 1946, in memory of William
Meikle, his image replaced the usual Burns reference. 1958 saw a sketch of the
Club's President, William A Reid, on the cover and a return to reflecting other
events such as the launch of the Sputnik 1 satellite, and Scottish scenes. 1981
- 1983 designs were by S Graham Benton, and continued the tradition of featuring
a sketch of the President. The covers for 1984 - 1991 are identical, with a
motto taken from a seal belonging to Robert Burns "Better a wee bush than
nae bield" (A small bush is better than no shelter) and a design by E
Davies. Only the President's name is included with no reference to date and
venue. This design continued to be used as the frontispiece of the programmes
until 1998, although the main cover was a glossy photograph of a portrait of
Burns by Alexander Nasmyth. The 1999 cover returned to hand-drawn illustrations
with date, venue, and President's name. The artist's name is unknown. The
reverse or inside of the programme follows the same format: Grace Menu -
originally seven courses of soup, fish, haggis, removes, poultry, sweets and
cheese. Later menus were reduced to soup, haggis, meat course, sweet, cheese and
coffee. Toast List with responses, recitations and songs. These changed slightly
over the years but usually included 'The King' (or Queen), 'The Immortal Memory
of Robert Burns', 'The Lassies', 'Guests and Kindred Societies', 'The Houses of
Parliament', 'The Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses" and "The Walsall
Burns Club". A poem or quotation by Burns is often included. When dancing
was featured the name of the Band was given as well as the accompanist for the
singing and the Piper for the haggis. The programmes were printed by J & W
Griffin Ltd. of the Observer Office and later by the Walsall Observer Press.
After 1958 there is no printers' name until the 1994 - 1998 programmes which
were printed in Scotland, and used the back of the programme for advertising
whisky. Inside the programme for 1972 is one black and white photograph of
guests at the Annual Dinner, 22 x 17 cms, copyright West Midlands Press, Bridge
Street, with some people identified on reverse.
The Burns Club was formed on the 1st of March 1900 "at a meeting of local
Scotchmen at the George Hotel", according to a report in the 1901 Walsall
Red Book, , although being a Scot was not necessary for membership. At a meeting
on 3rd March officers were appointed, with Mr John Shannon elected as the first
President and the objective of the club was stated as being the promotion of the
study of the works of 'The Poet' (Robert Burns) and of Scottish literature in
general. The Annual Dinner (the only event in that year's programme) took place
at the Stork Hotel on 29th March. Every year after that, the Club celebrated the
birth of Robert Burns on or near the date of 25th January. The venue for this
dinner varied and included The Stork Hotel, Dora (Pattisons) Caf, St. Paul's
Hall, The George Hotel, The Elms Hotel, Aldridge and Aldridge Masonic Hall.
The Club held
committee meetings roughly every month with an Annual General Meeting in
October. It appears that any new member had to be proposed and seconded in order
to join the Club. However, by 1934 there was only one annual meeting in October
recorded in the Minutes, the equivalent of the Annual General Meeting. The Club
organised several events every year as well as the Annual Dinner. Smoking
Concerts, recitations and lectures are noted in the Minutes as well as Whist
Drives, all organised by a sub-committee.
In 1901 the Club met at the Dragon Hotel in High Street and in 1907 became the first organisation in the town to invite "the lassies" to its annual celebration. By 1909 the Dragon Hotel had closed and the Club moved back to the Stork. In 1928 there was discussion about the admittance of ladies to the club, although none appeared on the committee until many years later. In 1941 the Club met in Walsall Presbyterian Church after over 30 years at the Stork. The Club first mentioned its affiliation to the Burns Federation in 1923 and in 1982 became The Walsall and District Scottish Society.
Caledonian, Scottish and St Andrew's Societies
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