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Past Lads, Lasses, Attendants & Sashers from 1936 to 2020


On the 25th September, 1935 on a stormy night, a group of young men, with some of more advanced years, met in a loft in Hercus Loan used by the local Scout troop. There were some still well recognised names among their number, George Colville, Bill Caird, Simon Clark, Alexander Maxwell and Malcolm Kirk to name a few.

Success and enthusiasm created by the 1935 Riding of the Marches had kindled within them a local patriotism which they felt many other local inhabitants also possessed and which they wished to express through the medium of an annual Festival.

The idea of having an annual Festival, without infringing upon the ceremony of the Riding of the Marches, became an instantaneous success. There has since that time arisen a pride excelling all the dreams and hopes of those men who met in the loft all those years ago.

The Scout Hall in Hercus Loan where it all began



Miss Nessie Archibald, Alex MacDonald, David Wilson, Alex Maxwell, Thos. Mitchell, George McNair, Terence Shanley, Thomas Runciman, John Millar, Councillor T. White, Jas. Archibald, George M. Colville, Provost David Lowe, Alex. Davidson, Simon Clark, Arch. Sullivan.

Constitution and Rules

1. That the Association be called the 'Honest Toun's Association'.
2. That the Association will be under the Patronage of the Provost, Magistrates and Town Council.
3. That the Association have one day annually for the Ride-out and Festival.
4. Members of the Association must be natives or Residenters within the Parish of Inveresk.
5. A fee of 2/6 to be charged for membership.
6. That the Honest Toun's Association colours be Royal Blue and White, and that they be worn each year at the Festival and other Functions of the Association.
7. (a) That an Honest Lad and Lass be appointed each year, and that the appointment be approved by the Town Council.
    (b) The Lad and Lass must be natives of the Burgh.
    (c) Attendants will be appointed to the Lad and Lass, and the same rules apply to the Attendants as apply to the Lad and Lass.
8. For the choosing of the Lad and Lass the following procedure to be adopted:- Nominations to be received from members on Nomination forms. A short leet of 8 be drawn up (i.e., 4 Lads and 4 Lasses) by Committee and placed before the members at the General Meeting and voted on. The others defeated in the ballot will constitute the Attendants.
9. The Honest Lad must dress in the attire as constituted by the Committee, viz:- Top Hat, Swallow Tailed Riding Coat, White Vest, White Breeches and Black Boots, and his attendants be dressed similarly.
10. The Honest Lass will be attired in Top Hat, White Riding outfit and Black Boots, and her attendants in Black Velvet Hunting Caps, Dark Jacket, White Breeches and Black Boots.
11. The Lad and Lass will be invested with their Sashes the night before the Festival.
12. The Lad and Lass and retinue to be kirked at the Parish Church and lay a wreath at the War memorial after the morning service prior to the Festival. The Honest Lad and his Attendants will wear Morning Dress.

To see the current constitution click here : Constitution of the Honest Toun's Association

The Honest Toun's Association 1936

The Birth of Our Festival

by Ex-provost Bill Caird, Honest Lad, 1937

Turfing Stone

The Riding of the Marches held in August 1935, was said by many to be the greatest ever, a view still held by many of us. It was a tremendous show of Pride of Burgh by the whole Community and the decoration of houses and businesses has yet to be surpassed.

The success of the Riding of the Marches lingered on for a long period. During this time, I was fortunate enough to be often in the company of two people who were very keen to maintain some sort of Association, i.e. an Annual Festival. We had been elected Burgesses of the Town during the Riding of the Marches celebrations, we were members of the Rugby Club and walked home together from Inveresk Church on Sundays. These two men were George Aitken, then of 81 Inveresk Road and Jimmie Archibald of Grove Park.

It was after some discussion on our Sunday walks that we decided to call a meeting of people representing various groups in the Burgh. This meeting was held on 26th September, 1935 with Mr David Maxwell of Hope Place in the chair.

Present were:- Messrs George McNair, Tom Mitchell, Alex Davidson, Malcolm Kirk John Clark, James Sandilands, George Aitken, George Colville, James Brown, James Archibald and Ian Archibald.

It was an Informal meeting to discuss the proposal that an Association be formed, with regard to an Annual Town Festival. A detailed programme was submitted and it was the feeling of the meeting that an Annual Festival could be held, on a minor scale, without infringing on the traditional Riding of the Marches.

A deputation was then elected to meet with the Town Council, to obtain their approval for the formation of an Association, Messrs George Colville, T. Mitchell and A. Davidson formed this deputation.

A public meeting was held in the Town Hall, on Thursday 26th March, 1936 where it was unanimously agreed to form the Honest Toun's Association. In these early days the entrance fee was 2/6 and the Annual Subscription 1/-. The membership was very strictly confined to residents in the Parish of Inveresk and applications for membership from 'outsiders' were examined by the Executive Committee. Only applicants with a residential or family qualification were granted membership.

Jimmie Archibald, the first Secretary, who had visited Hawick Common Riding and became the first Moss trooper in 1935 from Musselburgh, played a big part in motivating the enthusiasm during the early months by organising whist drives, sales and all manner of money raising schemes.

Nominations for Honest Lad and Lass were vetted by the Committee and one nomination for Lad and Lass from each Ward was selected.

The election was held at a Public Meeting at the Town Hall on 2nd June, 1936 and Provost Lowe announced Jimmie Arthur and Ina Vass would be the first Honest Lad and Lass.

A very popular choice they proved to be, they set a very high standard in carrying out their duties during that first year and earned the support of all sections of the townspeople for the Festival.

With the start to the Festival, that year, ceremonies were restricted to the Kirking in North Esk Church on the Sunday and on the Friday, a concert and sashing, held at the Town Hall, followed by a Fancy Dress Dance at Stoneyhill Institute, now the Community Centre. Saturday saw the ride-out and sports in the afternoon which were followed by a Dinner in the Grandstand together with an open air Concert and dancing in the paddock, attended by hundreds of people. The first of many great festivals had come to an end and proved that the sponsors had been correct in that there was a need for the people to maintain an annual show of pride in Burgh.

Sadly many of our Honest Lads and Honest Lasses are no longer with us, may I on behalf of the survivors of the 1936 Team convey greetings to this year's Honest Lad and Lass and wish the Festival Committee a happy and successful year and in the many years to come.

(Copy as printed in the 1986 Festival Programme) 

The 1936 Official Party

The 1936 Official Party
Past Presidents 1936-Present
Past Lads, Lasses, Attendants & Sashers from 1936 to 2020
Spend And Raise - The Honest Toun's Association
Musselburgh Festival Last Updated 2nd February 2013