Unfortunately as far as events to celebrate Queen’s Elizabeth Coronation in the Stratherrick and Foyers area, there are no reports in the local Inverness newspapers of the day. Whilst the neighbouring districts of Dores, Daviot, Tomatin, Farr, Glenurquhart and Fort Augustus all had comprehensive reports of events in their area. The Peoples Journal, Highland edition, a weekly newspaper based in Dundee had a couple of small articles on what happened in Foyers plus a picture of the Coronation Queen and attendants. However we do have the local School log books and some attendees of the events, both now staying local and farther afield, able to relate their memories of the day.
There were two separate community events held locally, the Foyers and Inverfarigaig event was in Foyers, whilst the Whitebridge, Gorthleck and Errogie event was in Gorthleck.
The Peoples Journal 30th May 1953 records that “Two highly successful concerts were held in aid of the local Coronation funds and were organised by Mrs J Fraser and Mrs F Fraser. Dr Lamond was in the chair for the first evening and Mr M Fraser, manager at the British Aluminium works at Foyers presided over the second occasion”.
The Peoples Journal 13th June 1953 records that “Adverse weather did not dampen the spirits of the Foyers folk on Coronation Day. The children received a 5s piece and held their sports on the Factory Field. In the evening a free dance was held and the Coronation Queen gave the signal for the bonfire to be lit. Music was supplied by the Fraser Angus Band and Mr K Ross was M.C.”.
Foyers school was closed for three days of the coronation holiday on 1-3 June. On the afternoon of 2nd June there was sports at the Factory field. The children and their parents walked down to the field. The day was bitterly cold with intermittent hailstones. The sports would have been held along the usual lines with races, high and long jump and novelty events (three legged race, egg and spoon race, sack race and the wheelbarrow race etc). There would also have been adult sports. Once they were finished, tables were set out in front of the Pavilion for the distribution of food to the attendees of the event, with benches set out for the children to sit on. The children were presented with gifts to mark the occasion by the Education Committee. Coronation mugs were given to the primary school children, a propelling pencil with red, white and blue stripes and a crown were presented to the secondary pupils. The children also received a 5 shilling coin called a crown, this particular issue of the coin was to commemorate Queen Elizabeth coronation. Afterwards, in the evening, there was a fancy dress parade in Glenlia Green with side stalls and a bonfire, sited on the rockies, which Jill Ross, the Foyers Coronation Queen, gave the signal to be lit (The Rockies are to the right of the start of the back road to Craigniche). The Dance that followed was more than likely held in Foyers Club, the social club for employees of the British Aluminium Company. British Aluminium Company presented each of their employees with a medal in a presentation case to mark the occasion of the coronation.
Both Boleskine and Whitebridge Schools had three days off for the coronation holiday 1-3 June and took the next two days as midterm break so they had the full week off. Errogie School only took the Coronation holidays. All three schools combined to have a joint sports Coronation day at the Shinty Park in Murnich (across from Fire station). The day was cold with a north wind, rain and sleet, in such an exposed place this led to the sports being abandoned and retiring to Stratherrick Hall for games etc. This was followed by tea, sandwiches, cakes and possibly ice cream. The parents would have supplied the food and baking. According to Boleskine school log books all the children received Coronation mugs while the primary age girls, got a handkerchief and sweets whilst the boys got ties. For the secondary pupils, the girls received head squares and the boys’ ties.
In the evening there was a bonfire on Whitebridge hill (Tom Rathail) and a dance in Stratherrick hall.
Bochrubin School joined Aldourie School in the early afternoon for a joint sports of forty five events at a field at Clune farm, following a church service at Dores. Later on in the afternoon there was an adult sports program of twenty events including the marathon and tug of war. In the parish hall, ladies provided relays of adults and children with lunch and later on the day, about three hundred and fifty people were given tea. Mrs Fraser Tytler presented the prizes for the sports, and there after presented each child with two souvenirs. Before going home the children were entertained to a fireworks display at the lochside. The day ended for the adults with a dance in the hall, which went on until the early hours of the morning.
Alison Parkhouse nee Hipkin
I was just 10 years old and it was a very exciting time as Margaret Murray and I got a new dress, the same but Margaret’s was pink and mine blue, we bought it from the Indian who came round the village selling lots of things from his two suit cases, All the school children were given a mug. We had a picnic in the Factory Field and learned a song at school about A Golden Coach going through the streets of London with the sweetest Queen you have ever seen wearing a golden crown ( In a Golden Coach by the Bill Cotton and his Band). My father and some others organised a side show with roll a Penny etc. We also had a fancy dress parade. Margaret and I dressed up as Painters carrying a gauge board on our shoulders and some dungarees that had paint on them.
The day was bitterly cold with 2” snow at Stronelairg. There were sports featuring the three schools, Whitebridge, Boleskine and Errogie to be held at the Shinty field at Muirnich. Eddie had got new white sandshoes, but left for sports in welly boots, the field was cold and wet, so ending up going to Gorthleck Hall for games, followed by tea, sandwiches, cakes and possibly ice cream. The parents would have supplied the food and baking. Eddie reckoned there was a dance in the evening but he never went. There was also a bonfire lit on Whitebridge hill (Tom Rathail) on coronation night and recalls going to the hotel to see his sister Dulcie, who worked there and saw bonfire. Eddie reckons, the Fraser brothers Alister, Ian and Donnie who stayed at Dell were involved building it.
Thanks to Alison, Eddie, Kenny Ross, and Margaret Johnstone nee Murray, John Murray, Ala Macgruer, Elizabeth Howard nee Macintyre, Mary Macdonald nee Smith, for their input.
Queen Elizabeth Silver Jubilee
The Silver Jubilee Day on 7 June 1977, was also a Bank Holiday and most local events were on that day. No newspaper reports have been found for anything locally but we know there was a sports day at the Factory Field, Foyers. This also included a pet parade. The children received Silver Jubilee mugs to mark the occasion. Teas were served to all following the sports, as usual in front of the pavilion.
Queen Elizabeth Golden Jubilee
On Monday 3 June 2002 a Jubilee tea was held in Stratherrick Hall, which was packed to overflowing with people, tea and cakes were served to all. There was a display of memorabilia and photographs showing life in the district over the last 50 years. The children were presented with mugs by Isie Fraser one of the older residents of the area. A group photo of all who attended the event was taken outside the hall.
Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee
Locally there were combined events to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee and the 2012 Olympics that were to be held in London during July and August. The events which started in May went through to end of July. These were badminton and table tennis, Foyers to Inverfariag walk, walk up Dun Deardail, Stratherrick Clay Target club Shoot, canoeing on Loch Ness (including BBQ on Factory field), fishing event, cycle event, wheelbarrow race.
On the 2nd June 2012 a family Jubilee Party was held in Stratherrick Hall. Foyers Stores provided funding to decorate the hall and a bar was run by Whitebridge Hotel. Around 120 people attended the event, all bringing party food to share. Once the tables were cleared from the floor the dance began. Ernie Randal and Davie Shand played the music for the dancing in the early evening, which was then followed by Big Alfie’s Disco. There was also a small marquee outside the hall to help cater for the event.
On Tuesday 5th June more than 60 people came to celebrate the Queens Jubilee at a Tea/Dance in Stratherrick Hall. Local people around the strath provided home baking, flowers, and music. Foyers shop was able to secure donations of food from suppliers and the Craigdarroch Hotel made a huge cake decorated by some of the local school children. Highland Council provided a commemorative box of shortbread to mark the occasion for each person to take away. Music was provided by local musicians Alistair Colquhoun, Ros Rowell, Ernie Randall and Davie Shand. A cardboard figure of the Queen was present at both events in Stratherrick Hall and she looked on approvingly as the National Anthem was sung to end the proceedings.
Copyright Alister Chisholm 2022