Renfrew Gala Day

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Renfrew Gala Day, pipers on parade. Picture courtesy of Paisley Daily Express
Renfrew Gala Day, pipers on parade. Picture courtesy of Paisley Daily Express

Renfrew Gala Day began in 1982 at the initiative of the local community. It seemed incongruous to many that until 1982, a burgh of Renfrew’s historic importance did not have a Gala Day whilst many surrounding towns and villages did e.g. Lillias Day in Kilbarchan and Bishopton Gala Day.

Renfrew has an important place in Scottish history through its connection with the High Stewards of Scotland. Castlehill, near the present Ferry Road, was the site of Renfrew Castle, seat of the High Stewards. No trace of the castle remains today, although its presence lives on in Renfrew place names.Walter, the 6th Steward and Baron of Renfrew, married Marjory,daughter of King Robert Bruce in 1315. Their son succeeded to the throne of Scotland as Robert II.

Renfrew was created a Royal Burgh in the 14th century by King Robert III. As a burgh, it was the only town in the area with the right to hold markets and fairs, to claim customs and tolls from other towns, and to trade abroad. These rights made Renfrew the local centre of trade and business for many years. In 1676 the Lord Lyon King of Arms granted Renfrew its Coat of Arms.

Renfrew Gala Day, held on the first Sunday in June is now supported by over 10,000 people who gather to watch the opening parade from Canal Street to Robertson Park.The parade led by the Renfrew North Pipe Band and including the horse drawn carriage carrying the “Renfrew citizen of the year”. Local groups enter into the spirit of the celebrations by dressing up in eye-catching costumes.

The Gala Day has evolved to include entertainment for all ages including local rock bands, dancing displays, funfair rides and many charity stalls at Robertson Park. By widening the appeal of the entertainment available, Renfrew Gala Day has seen the participation increase from the few thousand who attended the first Gala Day in 1982 to the now in excess of 10,000 who attended in 2009.

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