The presentation of the Victoria Diamond Jubilee Clock Tower to the Public Hall Trustees, and the starting of the clock therein, took place in the Public Hall on the afternoon of Friday 20th July. There was a large turnout to witness the ceremony, including most of the ‘elite’ of the district. On the platform we observed Mr & Miss McConne1 of Knockdolian; Hugh Hamilton Esq. of Pinmore; Robert Finnie McEwan, Esq. of Bardrochat; Revs. James McFadzean and Hamilton Campbell, Colmonell; also the following members of the Hall and Tower Committees, viz. Messrs Thomas Ross, John H Brown, James B Farish, Robert Murray, Hugh Stewart, William McWhirter, and Robert Aitken. The tower was built from plans designed by Mr Allan Stevenson, architect, Ayr.
On the motion of the Rev. McFadzean, Mr R.F. McEwan was called upon to preside, who, on taking the chair said - Ladies and gentlemen, I count it a very high honour to have been asked to take the chair on this auspicious occasion. The purpose of our meeting today is doubtless well known to all of you. About a year ago, it was resolved that, in token of our devotion to our Sovereign and to mark the completion of the 60th year of her happy reign, a suitable memorial should be erected in this village. This loyal undertaking has now been accomplished The clock-tower which now surmounts this building, commemorates an event unparalleled in the history of our country. Her Majesty has now reigned for more than 61 years - a period longer than that attained by any of her predecessors on the throne, and it appears to me to be be peculiarly fitting that an event such as this - so closely associated in our minds with the flight of time - should be commemorated by a memorial in the form of a clock. But, ladies and gentlemen, I need scarcely remind you that the mere duration of a monarch's reign will not make it glorious any more than length of days will of itself make man illustrious. Her Majesty's claim on our homage and affection rests on a surer foundation than this. It is by virtue of her character and those surpassing qualities of heart and head which distinguish her, that Her Majesty has gained the devotion of all classes of her subjects, a Constitutional monarch should be. Long then may this tower and clock remain as a proof of our loyalty to the Queen, and in token of our appreciation of the security and liberty which we enjoy under her beneficent sway. It is specially gratifying to me to be supported today by my venerable friend and neighbour, Mr McConnel. He is one of the oldest and most respected of Her Majesty's subjects in this parish. He has contributed most generously towards the cost of erecting this Tower.
On all these grounds, therefore, I am sure it will be in accordance with your unanimous desire, that I now invite Mr McConnel to start the clock by cutting this ribbon, and thereby inaugurate our memorial of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
At this part of the proceedings, Mr mcConnel then cut the silk ribbon attached to the pendulum, and thus set the clock in motion, and, shortly said - I now declare the Tower, clock and bell completed.
The Rev. Mr Campbell said - Mr Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, I have been asked to present in name of the Tower Committee, this Diamond Jubilee Tower Clock and bell to the Hall Trustees. After the remarks which you, sir have so admirably made, it is unnecessary that I should say anything further with regard to the subject. Our labours as a committee, though sometimes rather anxious and onerous, has at ali times been undertaken willingly and cordially, and now on this interesting occasion we are pleased to see those labours brought to so happy a conclusion. In making this presentation in name of the Tower Committee, I have to couple it with the name of the Rev. McFadzean one of the Hall Trustees.
The Rev. McMcFadzean said - Mr Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, In the name of the Trustees of Colmonel1 Public Hall, that is to say, in the name of Mrs Gray, Mr McConnel, the Rev. Mr Davie and myself, I beg to accept the additional trust you are pleased to repose in us. Our responsibilities as trustees may be considerable, but our duties are very light. Those duties are performed by the Hall Committee, and the duties of the Hall Committee are for the most part performed by their able and excellent secretary, Mr Aitken, and I can assure you that so long as Mr Aitken is amongst us - and I hope it will be for a long time to come - every repair or improvement necessary for the Hall and its adjoining building will be promptly and efficiently carried out. I remember some ten years ago when our Hall was built we were all very proud of it, and it was then anticipated that it would prove a great convenience and boon to the village and the surrounding neighbourhood. Those anticipations have been more than realised. But proud as we were of it then, I am sure we are prouder of it today - adorned as it is by that tower and clock - erected to commemorate the long and beneficent reign of our good and gracious Queen.
When Mr McConnel was asked to come here this afternoon and set our Diamond Jubilee Clock agoing he might very well have excused himself on the plea of his age, or on the possibility of the day turning out wet, cold and inclement. He might have excused himself on either or on both of these grounds, but he did not, and I am sure that we are all very much pleased to have him with us. It is very much in accordance with the fitness of things that Mr McConnel should have performed this function. We all remember the great and helpful interest he took in the erection of this hall some ten years ago; and when it was proposed to erect upon it a tower and clock to commemorate the long reign of our good Queen, that proposal met with his heartiest sympathy and with the promise of his generous support and when a little later our loyalty threatened to be in excess of our means of expressing it, we laid our case before him, he virtually said - “go on and when you have done your best I shall do the rest”, and he has done it as he did it under similar circumstances some ten years before.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am sure it is the hope of all present that Mc McConnel may be long able to go in and out among the people of Colmonell, living the kindly, helpful and exemplary life which he has done so conspicuously amongst us during all these years.
Mr McConnel briefly and humorously replied telling the audience not to believe more than half of the kind things Mr McFadzean had said about him.
Mr Aiken said - Mr Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, as Secretary to the Tower Committee, the pleasing duty has been put on me to ask you to give a vote of thanks to the numerous subscribers to the Tower Funds. While feeling the honour that has been done to me I could have wished the duty had fallen on someone better qualified to do justice to the subject. Could I, Mr Chairman, even for a single moment “lay the flattering unction to my soul” that I was the ideal Secretary that has been painted by the somewhat vivid imagination of a previous speaker, I would have been an utterly useless person had it not been for the funds supplied by the liberality of the subscribers. But as, without any mock humility, I know I fall far short of that ideal, I feel this position of Secretary should have been in more competent hands. Still, thanks to the numerous and generous donations. and an energetic working committee, we have succeeded in raising a Tower to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria's reign, which, I submit, is a credit to the district and an architectural decoration to the Public Hall and the village of Colmonell.
As in the work of a Secretary, I take the greatest pleasure, I have therefore, given my best endeavours, and as the Committee has at all times dealt tenderly with my many shortcomings, the acting as Secretary to this Committee has been no burden to me, but, on the contrary, has proved a pleasure. Probably, Mr Chairman, you will not consider it out of place for me to give a few particulars of the subscriptions, and the use made of them.
As you have already heard, there were over 180 donations varying in amount from £50 down to as low as threepence – the total amount raised being £199-16-9d. There was also got from an entertainment in this Hall last October given by a number of kind ladies and gentlemen connected with the district, a sum of £29-4-5d and from the interest on deposits £1-7-d. The total funds at the disposal of the Committee was thus £230-10-5d, thus leaving a debit of £16-2-2d. The Committee was very soon put out of any anxiety as to the payment of this debt, for immediately Mr McConnel knew of it, he, with his usual generosity, offered to clear it off. The Tower Committee, therefore, now when retiring after finishing its work, is in the happy position of being able to hand over Tower Clock and Bell free of debt to the Hall Trustees. Mr Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, as most of you are probably aware, this is not the first time Mr McConnel has put a Colmonell Committee in the same satisfactory position. For when this Hall was nearly built, he wrote to me as Secretary, wishing to know what was likely to be the debts on it when completed. I replied it would be over £100, and if we built the proposed office houses it would be about £135. I, by return of post, got his reply stating that he would pay half of the debt, including that on the office houses if the Committee could get the rest from others.
Well, Mr Chairman, I must confess his extremely handsome offer put the Hall Committee in a somewhat uncomfortable position, for they could not think of any means of raising this amount except by going again to parties whose generosity had already been unparalleled. But the Hall Committee could not let so favourable an opportunity pass without an endeavour at least to accomplish the payment of the debt, and, therefore, instructed me to write a number of former donors explaining the position of affairs and asking them for further assistance - all the members of the Committee showing a good example by beginning the new subscription list.
Notwithstanding that the parties written to had already given very handsome donations, they also added to these with the result that the Hall committee was very soon in the satisfactory position to be able to intimate to Mr McConnell that more than half of the debt had been subscribed. Knowing this Mr McConnel sent also more than the other half in the form of a cheque for £70 in addition to his former large donation of £100. Thus the Hall was not only opened free of debt, but with a small balance on hand. While referring to Mr McConnel by name in connection with paying off the debts of the Hall and tower, I have no desire to draw any invidious distinctions as to the subscriptions of the many generous donors. For me to do so would be in the very worst of taste, and show a wont of gratitude which neither the Committee nor myself felt - indeed we are as thankful for the smallest donation as any of the large While speaking of subscriptions, although I have already kept you too long, perhaps Mr Chairman; ladies and gentlemen, you will permit me shortly also to give a summary of the expense of building and furnishing this hall and the other rooms connected with it: -
- The cost of the building was £624-13-0d
- The cost of the land on which it is built £100-0-0d
- The cost of the furniture, including Billiard Table, Hall Forms, Billiard Room, and Hall Clock, Chairs, Blinds etc. was £79-17-11d
- Sundry Expenses £6-9-9d
Or in whole £811-0-8d
To which must now be added cost of Tower Clock and Bell, which was as before £246-10-5d mentioned.
Bringing the total outlay up to £1057-11-1d
When I mentioned that the whole of this large sum, except about £50, has been given by voluntary subscription, I think, ladies and gentlemen, you will agree with me about the importance of the vote of thanks I have the honour to propose, as without the subscribers the tower would never have been built, and the prospect of ever this Hall being so would still be ‘in the dim and distant future’. Mr Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, again apologising for detaining you so long, I will now close by asking you to give a very hearty vote of thanks to the subscribers to the Tower Funds.
The vote was carried by acclamation.
Mr Hamilton of Pinmore, in proposing a vote of thanks to the Chairman, referred to the great interest which Mr McEwen had manifested in the neighbourhood since coming to reside here, and he was quite sure that he would always continue to take an interest in the welfare of Colmonell. He had great pleasure in being associated with him on the important occasion which had brought them together today. Mr Hamilton's remarks were well received and enthusiastically responded to.