A ‘Remembrance Torch’ has been unveiled at the War Memorial in Galashiels (Sunday 4 October 2020), 95 years to the day since the famous War Memorial itself was unveiled by Field Marshall Earl Haig on Sunday 4 October 1925.
The Torch, first proposed by Galashiels town councillor and Bailie George Hope Tait during the construction of the War Memorial in 1923, was intended to sit on the side of the burgh building facing Cornmill Square. However, due to budgetary constraints at the time, that element of the plan was dropped.
It has taken 97 years to bring George Hope Tait’s vision to life.
“The addition of the Border Torch to our wonderful War Memorial is a fitting and permanent tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice during two World Wars,” says Bill White, Chairman of Gala Remembers. “It has great historical significance and is a poignant reminder of our fallen Galaleans.”
The bronze torch and glass flame – crafted by Beltane Studios, Andrew Holmes Glass and James Stewart and Sons Electricians – is located where it was originally intended. It will light up once a day at 8pm when the chimes of ‘Braw, Braw Lads’ ring out, as suggested by Hope Tait, in remembrance of the fallen.
The Torch and plaque, funded by Energise Galashiels Trust and with support from the public, local businesses and Scottish Borders Council through the Gala Remembers project, were unveiled by Valerie Gray, George Hope Tait’s granddaughter.
Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 restrictions, the ceremony couldn’t be opened to the public.
George, who was born in Innerleithen, spent most of his life in Galashiels where his influence on architecture, heritage and civic legacy was extensive, however he retained a strong interest in his home town and is recorded in the History of Innerleithen as a lead player in the creation of the Cleikum Festival in 1901.
He served on Galashiels Town Council for over 29 years and in addition to his involvement in the erection of the War Memorial together with architect Robert Lorimer, sculptor Thomas Clapperton and stonemason George Sutherland, he was credited, along with his peers, with the constitution of the Braw Lads’ Gathering in 1930.