Hawick Callants Club: founded 1904


Dear relic of the days of yore
Of deeds of hardy valour done
Thy folds are floating as before
Beneath the summer sun.
Old trophy, much was daied and done
To wrest thee from the foemans hand
And nobly, bravely wert thou won
By that determined band.

James Thomson

15 Social functions

On the Tuesday afternoon, the Principals visit all the local hospitals and care homes. They are normally accompanied by the Drum and Fife Band and a few singers who help entertain, for a short visit, the sick and elderly who are unable to attend any Common-Riding functions. The President of the Callants Club, usually with his wife and a few members, also visit the homes and hospitals on this afternoon. (Use of schools for General Elections on Thursdays have necessitated changing from the traditional Wednesday.)

On the Wednesday morning selected High School pupils choose the shop window displays which best reflect the spirit of the Common-Riding. The Callants Club’s awards are presented to the winning shop-owners by the Club President.

On the Wednesday evening is Overseas Night when a reception is held in the Town Hall for exiled Teries who have returned home for the Common-Riding. This function was introduced in 1936. The Exiles are greeted by the Cornet, his Lass and Acting Father and Mother. The Provost welcomes everyone before telling those present what has occurred in the town over the previous year. A programme of entertainment follows. All the Exiles are introduced and each stands when their name is read out so that a face can be put to the name. The Maids of Honour serve refreshments during a break in the proceedings which gives those present a chance to catch up with old friends in the company.

On Thursday morning after the Chase, the Cornet visits the local schools where he is joined by the Right- and Left-Hand Men, his Lass, the Right- and Left-Hand Lasses together with the Acting Father, Acting Mother and some of the supporters. They travel to the schools in a bus, visiting first the primary school at which the Cornet was a pupil. At the schools the Principals are met by a large crowd of excited pupils and parents. After being entertained by the pupils’ singing the Cornet and Lass receive presents from the pupils and then present prizes to the pupils who have won the Callants Club Essay and 1514 Club Art competitions. The Cornet then asks the Head Teacher to grant the pupils a holiday for the rest of the day and the next – of course, the Head agrees! Amid wild cheering the Cornet moves on to the next school.

On Thursday evening after the Colour-Bussing and the Walk, the Provost, Chief Guest and partners attend the Callants Club Social Evening, listening to a programme of Hawick songs and poetry. They leave before the arrival of the Cornet’s party which includes the Right- and Left-Hand Men, Acting Father, the Lasses (who first attended in 2008) and the Principals from other towns. The programme of songs and poetry continues until late with all the Principals singing their own town song.

On Friday morning the Cornet invites his supporters to breakfast with him. Meanwhile at the Provost’s Breakfast in the Town Hall, the Provost entertains the Magistrates, Councillors and other invited guests. At the end of breakfast, sprigs of oak leaves are distributed to all those present and are worn with pride. The origins of this are unknown but it is believed to date back to the ancient tribes who used to live in Teviotdale. They believed in heathen gods – the oak leaves were perhaps part of some religious ceremony.

After breakfast the Cornet, with the Flag, his Right- and Left- Hand Men wearing their green coats, white breeches and tile hats together with the Acting Father, Provost Magistrates and Chief Guest parade from the Town Hall to gather in front of Drumlanrig Tower steps. Here the Old Common-Riding Song is sung in full. Each of the Principals takes it in turn to sing verses. This is the "Mounting" song.  It has always been connected with the mounting of the Cornet and his supporters before setting off for the day’s work. Before 1921 it was conducted at an open window in a room in the Tower Hotel.

As soon as the horsemen are mounted at about 8.45 am, a procession is formed consisting of the Provost, Magistrates, officials, guests and the Lasses in cars, followed by the Drum and Fife Band, who lead the Cornet with Bussed Flag and mounted supporters from the Tower Knowe through the Sandbed to Commercial Road where they play until all the riders have passed. The band is then taken by bus to re-join the procession at North Bridge Street. Meanwhile the procession continues up Wilton Path along Princes Street, Dovemount Place and North Bridge Street. From the Horse Memorial the Saxhorn Band leads the motorcade along the High Street and up the Howegate and Loan. The Drum and Fife Band leads the Cornet and his mounted supporters who consist of Ex-Cornets and Ex-Acting Fathers in order of seniority, visiting principals and the remaining supporters along North Bridge Street. When passing the 1514 Horse Memorial the Cornet lowers the Flag as a mark of respect for his forbears. The cavalcade then continues along the High Street, Howegate and Loan to Thorterdykes where the Band turns off to allow the Chases to take place before the cavalcade proceeds to the Hut and on to the Cutting of the Sod.

Before the Cornet arrives at the Moor on Common-Riding Friday after Cutting the Sod, the "Roond The Mair Race" takes place. This race was inaugurated in 2005 for all Hawick Primary Schools to compete for the 1514 Club American Cup. Each Primary School enters one runner from Primaries one to seven who runs a relay race against each other around the racecourse. The winning Primary School receives the Cup from the President of the 1514 Club and retains it for a year. The Cup is a silver race trophy sent from Hawick in 1897 to Teri exiles in Boston Massachusetts where there was a large number of exiles. Over a hundred visited Hawick in 1914 to watch the unveiling of 1514 Memorial. The racing trophy was returned to Hawick in 2002.

At the end of the Common-Riding day the Cornet attends the official Common-Riding Dinner at which the Provost presides. During an evening filled with songs and toasts the Provost presents the Cornet with his Cornet’s Medal which is gold with the Burgh coat of arms, crossed halberds, oak leaves and the Burgh motto with the Cornet’s name and the year inscribed on the back. The first Cornet to receive a medal from the Provost was Cornet W. Thomas Grieve in 1895; previous Cornets who wanted a medal had to pay for one to be made! The stock of die stamped medals made in Birmingham, held by the Common-Riding Committee ran out in 1997 and a new Medal was required for the 1998 Cornet, Richard Walker. The secretary of the Common-Riding Committee, Ex-Provost Frank Scott, showed local jeweller Hamish Smith a medal made for the 1881 Cornet John Smith, which Frank had retrieved from the Museum, and asked Hamish to make a replica. Frank thought it was appropriate and significant that a Teri was crafting the medal in Hawick and Hamish has made the medals ever since. During the Dinner an honoured place is given to a toast to the "Memory of Drumlanrig", the generous donor of the Common.

In recent years the Common-Riding Dinner has been held in Thorterdykes Roadhouse, the Roxburgh Inn in North Bridge Street, Stampers, at the junction of North Bridge Street and Croft Road and the Conservative Club in Bourtree Place when, in 2004, ladies were first invited.

Immediately after the Common-Riding Dinner, held in the Town Hall since 2007, the Hall is cleared for the Common-Riding Ball. Here, with his Lass, the Cornet leads off the Grand March. Reels and country dances are prominent.

A feature of the ball is the Cornet's Reel, confined to the  Principals, ex-Cornets and partners: the Cornet’s Lass is given the Cornet’s sash to wear during this dance which usually takes place at midnight.

The dancing continues through the night. As dawn approaches the Principals and their fellow revellers make their way to the Mote. The Cornet, Right- and Left-Hand Men and Acting Father climb to the top of the Mote to greet yet another Common-Riding Saturday sunrise with "Teribus".  This ceremony is also thought to date back to religious ceremonies of ancient times. The company returns to the Tower Knowe where another reel is danced. This time it is danced by the Cornet, Right- and Left-Hand Men and Acting Father only. Then everyone goes home for an hour or two of hard earned rest before the Saturday functions begin.

On the Saturday evening, after the horse racing and the return of The Flag, the last social function (discontinued in 2003 due to lack of support) was the Cornet’s Greetin’ Dinner. An informal occasion, prizes were presented to the supporters who were successful at the race meetings. This was also the occasion when the company bade farewell to the retiring Left-Hand Man who was the Cornet of two years ago. It was a sad event for he was wearing his Green Coat as a member of the "Big Three" for the last time.  The Cornet, too, was also free to enjoy an hour or two of leisure at the Dinner before getting a well-earned rest. Afterwards the guests and Principals made their usual tour of the fair in the Haugh. The last Greetin’ Dinner was held in Thorterdykes Roadhouse in 2003.