A Trip ‘Doon the Watter’ during the Glasgow Fair: Working Class Leisure Patterns and the Role of the Scenic Film at the Turn of the Century

A Trip ‘Doon the Watter’ during the Glasgow Fair: Working Class Leisure Patterns and the Role of the Scenic Film at the Turn of the Century

Samantha Wilson, Glasgow University  

Working-class histories of leisure travel have traditionally existed at the periphery of Scottish travel narratives. There are many possible reasons for this partial exclusion including considerable gaps within the surviving documentation, the complexity of regional development across urban and rural communities, and, perhaps most importantly, the conceptual overlap between the realms associated with work and leisure. Modern definitions of tourism rely on a clear differentiation between work and leisure (Urry and Larsen 2011: 4). While working-class spatial narratives would eventually be forced into this regulated pattern, historically they remained far less fixed. As a consequence, any historical inquiry related to working-class leisure practices must be articulated in relation to class narratives about contested movement and labour. Early film can play a particularly interesting role in this regard. Many British production companies documented emerging tourist trends as well as establishing various forms of relationships with the existing excursion industry in Scotland throughout the first two decades of the twentieth century. This push and pull between traditional patterns of travel and the expanding number of tourists makes the scenic and local topical films which were produced important reflections of not only popular travel destinations but also how working-class audiences imagined their own place within the cultural practice.  

This article examines one particular area and period when leisure travel by the urban working class was most popular: the annual Glasgow Fair fortnight. It discusses how the integration of scenics and local topicals into the festivities both inside and outside the city replicated touristic patterns championed traditionally by the upper middle classes and was also able to capture newer spatial practices. Both of these genres performed as touristic markers alongside other cultural material like maps, topographical literature and landscape painting. As devices of speculation, each of these diverse objects and texts began reconstructing and renegotiating not only the patterns of access but also the values and narratives associated with different natural sites and spaces. They constructed models of legal and social precedence by emphasising competing narratives about past spatial identities. Local and scenic films in particular provided an image of Scotland as open and accessible while, at the same time, organising and embedding contested spaces into the transport industry’s already fixed excursion map.   

Access to and free movement across land within both natural and constructed environments has a direct impact on the way individual and group identities are constructed and maintained over time. That movement often provides ways of destabilising conditioned narratives by testing our basic assumptions about the acquisition of knowledge and value structures through the imposition and proposition of new experiential variables. In the absence of access, “synthetic ‘sites of memory’” become entrenched in the collective narrative of a community (Rigney 2012: 6-7). In The Afterlives of Walter Scott Ann Rigney borrows the concept from Pierre Nora to describe the rise of new institutions which acted as “repositories of memory” in the nineteenth century “when the sense of being continuously connected to a common past had been eroded by political upheavals, urbanizaton, and the extension of the scale in which communities had to be imagined” (7).   

The aesthetic and epistemological values associated with travel, as well as first hand contact with natural spaces, have developed in fits and starts alongside these larger cultural changes. Many of the properties associated with the cultural practice were defined in relation to conditioned class narratives about leisure and labour. Prior to the seventeenth century most members of the gentry made contact with the environment through textual sources, usually referring to Scripture or classical poetry, rather than by analysing it directly (Nicholson 1959: 38). The idea of travel was associated with hardship rather than pleasure or education, walking in particular was attached to a specific socio-economic group and related closely to work rather than leisure. Those who could not afford horses or animal-drawn vehicles walked; those who had no fixed community or place of shelter walked: vagrants, labourers, and criminals. (Anne Wallace 1993: 39). The revolution in mechanised transport greatly transformed the role of travel and the properties associated with recreational walking in particular. Between the mid-eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries a number of new forms of travel were introduced and standardised across the country including forms of mass transport likes coaches and trains. For Anne Wallace this shifted perception of walking drastically for both the middle and working classes; “ it altered the socio-economic content of walking by making fast, cheap travel available to the labouring classes, thus increasing the attractiveness of travel in general and removing walking’s longstanding implication of necessity and so of poverty and vagrancy” (1993: 10). The shift reemphasised the role of leisure and the importance of choice in travel, gesturing towards the expansion of domestic tourism.   

Alongside mass transport, several other historical factors influenced that domestic expansion across Scotland. With the Jacobite defeat at Culloden in 1746 and turmoil on the Continent, Scotland became increasingly of interest to both the domestic and trans-border traveler. Prior to the mid-eighteenth century, the country’s interior had been largely cut off from foreigners and regional tourists: “The lack of roads and bridges, the mountainous terrain, the dearth of accommodation, and the absence of maps and information for the traveller made exploration of the land difficult” (Gold and Gold 1995: 40). While English tourists certainly made up a substantial portion of leisure travellers, domestic tourists also contributed to the significant increase. Between 1809 and 1819 there were actually more tour guides about Scotland published in Scotland than in England or the rest of Europe, with a total of 24 versus 15 and 14 (Durie 2003: 21). Just a decade prior, the New Lanark visitor’s register book listed over 2839 tourists of which the majority were in fact Scottish, either there seeing the cotton mills or nearby Falls of Clyde (Durie 2003: 27). These numbers seem to signal a growing interest amongst middle- and upperclass Scots in visiting their own sites of heritage rather than travelling further afield.   

Of course, these groups were not the first to place value on travel to natural landscapes, though they certainly dominated the narrative around its relationship to spatial identity. As Tom Stephenson has argued with regards to the creation of the Ramblers Association, there were many groups who walked for pleasure well before this rise in middle-class tourism (1989: 57). Prior to the formation of the industrial town, assumptions and motivations about travel held by the rural labourer were complex and often interrelated with the values associated with work. By the early nineteenth century, the concepts of work and leisure became increasingly compartmentalised by industrial labour practices, standardised assumptions of time and the structure of urban spaces. Accessible green spaces were seen by many as essential to the continued well-being of the working class. As the journalist Archibald Prentice wrote, “thousands and tens of thousands whose avocations render fresh air and exercise an absolute necessity of life, avail themselves of the rights of footway through the meadows and cornfields and parks of the immediate neighbourhood” (Prentice 1851: 289, cited in Stephenson 1989: 59). Many of these ramblers travelled in groups organised by their particular guilds or unions like the union of mechanics who set up leisure tours to country settings. In Mabel Tylecote’s The Mechanics’ Institutes of Lancashire and Yorkshire before 1851 she describes excursions to Flamborough Head, the Lake District, the Isle of Man and Harrogate all between the years of 1847 and 1850 (1957). Other organisations, like local church groups, planned their own walking tours to coincide with the factory holidays. Congregational minister and founder of the people’s holiday movement Thomas Arthur Leonard, organised trips from his home town of Colne to the Lake District and Pennines in the late 1890s (Stephenson 1989: 69). During the same period various rambling clubs were being established in Scotland including one in Greenock. In its inaugural year in 1904 the club led four excursions including ones to Ben Lomond, Thankerton, Loch Long, and the Kyles of Bute. It also created a mileage table for local walks in and around the city. Any funds raised were used to build benches to attract more walkers to the area (Greenock Rambler’s Club Minutes 1904-05).  

While new forms of travel may have been a central feature for middle-class tourism, enclosure laws would have a far more significant impact in regulating both everyday spatial patterns and leisure travel for rural working-class communities in Scotland. As members of the upper and middle class were using their increasing amount of leisure time to get out into the countryside, members of the working classes were being systematically relocated into urban areas. Between 1604 and 1916 a fifth of England’s total land was targeted by enclosure bills, transforming traditional boundaries, pushing agricultural labourers out of rural areas and into the towns for work. The shift from public to private land drastically increased the economic decline of the freeholding farmer and rural labourer. This process of legal enclosure affected every area of Scotland as well, from the Borders and Central Belt up through the Northeast and West Highlands.  

During this period the latter was marked by the ‘Highland Clearances’ where a large proportion of the rural population were evicted from the land they had lived and worked on for generations. Land use drastically shifted, first towards the expansion of commercial sheep farming in the 1770s and, then, within the next hundred years, to deer forests and grouse moors with the rise of the so-called sporting estates favoured by the landed aristocracy (Stewart and Watson, 2010: 40-1). The latter peaked in 1912 with a total of 3.5 million acres being used for hunting game (44). Prior to this, much of the country had still been held in common, as Tom Stephenson writes, “as late as 1847 there were some 37,000 acres of common pasture land in the Highlands” (1989: 118). Rural labourers and crofters were forced either to migrate to the Lowlands or to emigrate to the Americas and Australasia, creating what Mairi Stewart and Fiona Watson describe as a “cataclysmic depopulation” of the central and north-west Highlands (2010: 40). They write, “By the beginning of the twentieth century, the combined effects of sheep farming and sport on the landscape of the Highlands was to create upland landscapes divided by substantial stone dykes and iron and wire fences, invariably crossing miles of high ground. As Smout so eloquently puts it, ‘The grouse moor and deer forest between them changed a landscape of use, full of farmers working the hills at field and shieling, to a landscape of delight kept empty of people’” (Smout 2000: 133).   

For Scottish labourers common land became increasingly inaccessible as both a place to live and a place to visit. Enclosure laws provided one of the most significant reasons for the breakdown of traditional patterns of spatial identity across Scotland. Not only did they restrict access across the Highlands but they also altered the historical roles and routes of work and leisure amongst multiple regions in both the Highlands and Lowlands. Henry Cockburn (17791854), Solicitor-General from 1830 to 1834, and later a judge in the Court of Session as Lord Cockburn, complained that at the time he was a boy “nearly the whole vicinity of Edinburgh was open. Beyond the Causeway it was always almost Highland. Corstophine Hill, Braid Hill, Craiglockart Hill, the Pentland Hills, the sea side from Leith to Queesnferry, the river-side from Penicuick by Roslin and Hawthornden to Lasswade, the Valley of Habbie’s How and innumerable other places now closed, and fast closing, were all free […]” He went on to state that currently “everything was favourable to the way-thief, and the poor were laughed at. The public were gradually man-trapped off everything beyond the high road” (1874: 104-5, cited in Stephenson, 120). The rights of locals and visitors were intrinsically linked when it came to access to open natural spaces. Private land-owners found more and more effective ways of obstructing traditional patterns of movement and forbidding locals and tourists from travelling, including using both legal and physical intimidation, closing local inns and preventing the tenants who did remain on their land from offering accommodation or food to any travellers who did enter.  

Travel technology would quickly fill the gaps left with the eradication of traditional patterns of movement. By the mid-nineteenth century, new forms of transport began to make larger swathes of Scotland accessible again, further adding to the tensions between tourist, local and property-owner. Transport companies and links became the gatekeepers, not only organising the who, where, and how, but also which regions and communities profited from tourism. The steamer boats were the first to aid in this shift, providing new, quicker alternatives to travel down the Clyde toward increasingly popular seaside and health resorts as well as new ways to travel across the lochs like Loch Lomond and Loch Katrine. Rail travel came quickly on the heels of the steamboats. While, as Alastair Durie has pointed out, railways did not provide access to new parts of Scotland, they did “transform the scale and composition of tourism. Whereas the coaches could carry dozens of passengers at a time, and the steamboats a few hundred, the railways could move much greater numbers; and move them more quickly, with greater regularity and at less cost for those prepared to accept the Spartan conditions of third-class travel” (2003: 59). Rail travel made completely new patterns of movement possible, adding day excursions and commuting traffic to the popular week and weekend travel established by the steamboat.   

While many communities did prosper from the seasonal influx of tourists, individual ramblers continued to have to contend with limited open spaces. Their traditional patterns of movement were re-organised on one side by the private plots of land invested in sporting activities and on the other by the continuous development of new train lines which crisscrossed the landscape. Documentation became increasingly important in establishing and preserving patterns of movement and public right of way. Surprisingly, enclosure laws in England did provide for a roundabout way of renegotiating movement and access for the middle classes. While many public footpaths were being closed or altered, English common law dictated that public use was in fact able to construct public right-of-way, meaning that those walking were able not only to preserve older forms of travel but dictate new ones (Wallace: 67). Of course, in these cases public use was predominately verified by topographical documentation which strongly favoured the upper and middle classes rather than either the rural communities which had been depopulated or the travel patterns of the urban working classes.   

Many of the media which did document or direct working-class audiences remained embedded within these traditional topographical sources: tour guides, illustrated maps, press material, photographs and travel films all provided ways of representing new spatial patterns at the turn of the twentieth century, albeit through the lens of middle-class tourism. Dean MacCannell defines these tourist markers through their associated tourist attractions, describing them as part of an “empirical relationship between a tourist, a sight and a marker” (1999: 41). Each marker represents a fundamental step in the process of “sacrilization” which defines objects, landscapes, and experiences as attractions; a marker’s very existence provides evidence of an attraction’s cultural significance (45). Media which are commonly linked to touristic markers not only isolate areas of importance but provide the itineraries which linked these cultural, historical and natural sights together. MacCannell writes that “When they appear in itineraries, they have a moral claim on the tourist and, at the same time, then tend toward universality, incorporating natural, social, historical and cultural domains in a single representation made possible by the tour.” He goes on to state that these tour itineraries “set up relationships between elements (as between neighbourhoods and their cities) which cross the artificial boundaries between levels of social organization, society and culture, and culture and nature” (45, 51). While these forms of visual and literary documentation do not function as legal precedents in the same way as traditional forms of mapping, they do perform as devices which construct, reinforce, or undermine particular routes, carving out accessible areas as well as showcasing those that remained contested.  

Most of the communities situated between Inverness and the region of Dumfries and Galloway either participated in or were affected by the changes associated with increased domestic and external tourism: “Some communities sent tourists –the large cities, mining communities and textile towns; others received them, such as the seaside resorts and scenic inland communities; a third group acted as both source and destination with some leaving and others arriving” (Durie 2003: 63). Those travel narratives and tourist markers were at their most potent during the Glasgow Fair held annually in July. The Fair is one of the oldest of its kind in the United Kingdom, dating from the late twelfth century. For its earlier centuries the Fair’s main purpose was to help support agriculture across Scotland by offering a central point of trade for horses, cattle, and in the later years short and long term labour. By the nineteenth century that began to shift as the Fair became more focused on entertainment and relaxation, especially for the semi-skilled and unskilled industrial labourers who would be celebrating their holidays during the same period in July. As historian John Burnett notes, “Glasgow Fair was the central event in the popular culture of the city” (2005: 72).At this point in the city’s history three-quarters of the population were families whose “breadwinner” was employed as a labourer within the factories and shipyards across the city (Burnett: 72). The annual fair acted as a barometer for the industrial health of the city and country: if the year had been good, companies would give their employees more days holiday leave and families would have a little extra pocket money to enjoy their much needed break; if, on the other hand, trade had been slow, especially during periods of political and military strife, like during the Boer War, numbers attending the fair and its related leisure activities would suffer considerably.   

During the early nineteenth century most of the Fair’s activities were held in Glasgow Green in the east side of the city. The venue hosted an enormous variety of acts and amusements: “food, drink, strangers who were strange both in dress and accent, ballad singers, fiddlers, pipers, jugglers and strolling players” (Burnett 2004: 73). Other activities were organised directly by various community groups and societies, like the gardeners’ walks which began in the late eighteenth century (73). As Burnett argues, these firmly identified the holiday as something democratically held in common by the people of Glasgow: leisure and entertainment by and for working- and lower middle-class communities.  

As the century wore on, travel outside the city took on a more dominant role during the fortnight. Steamer journeys down the Clyde dominated early excursion traffic, with the phrase ‘doon the watter’ emerging in 1855 (77). The Dundee Courier described Glasgow as “deserted” during the Fair with the majority finding themselves in Rothesay along the coast (1896: 7). In July 1841, 21, 980 people participated in an excursion outside of the city (Durie 2003: 61), by the 1860s that number had surpassed 100,000 and in 1875 it reached 160,000 (Burnett 2004: 78). Communities from across Scotland participated in mass leisure travel during the same annual period, but, because of the sheer volume of people leaving Glasgow, it was groups from there which dominated the excursion traffic and press narrative. With the increasing reach of the railway, Glaswegians soon began to visit a number of new locations starting in Scotland, then England and Ireland, and, by the turn of the century, across the continent and Americas. Of course, working-class patrons focused on the first three areas, choosing day and weekend excursions over week- and month-long ones. In 1899, The Glasgow Herald described the “exodus” as extending in every direction writing that “indeed, there must be few places in Scotland which have not their quota, great or small, of Glasgow Fair holiday-makers” (17 July 1899). The Herald ran a whole section of advertisements dedicated to those holiday-makers beginning on Fair Thursday when the train stations and the steamer pier would flood with families trying to get a head start on their vacations. The Fair excursion section included everything from small rural B and Bs to month-long trips to the Caribbean. Council promoters, rail companies and large excursion operators, like Thomas Cook, all jostled with each other to attract hopeful tourists, either by slashing their prices, offering a variety of tour destinations or using a diverse set of fonts and headings overshadowing the tiny print chosen by the advertisements which came before or after. The spread of those locations increased up until the First World War, with more frequent trips to the Isles on offer.  

The excursion map was densely marked with locations that could sustain competition along the western edge of the Highlands. While resort towns along the coast had had inexpensive fares since the mid-nineteenth century (and had room and board available at equally competitive rates), other areas slowly became more competitive, offering discounts to attract more workingclass families as the Caledonian Railway did in 1894, providing return tickets for the price of a single fare to Oban and Callander (Glasgow Herald 12 July 1894). Other areas debated whether they should be doing the opposite. The Moffat News and Annandale Herald wondered whether opening up their community to larger groups of tourists would have a negative effect: “Moffat, which has always been the resort of the cultured, refined and educated, will do well if in these days of democratic trend she bend all her energies to the keeping intact the character she has hitherto maintained of a secluded, select and sylvan spot – character of which she must be justly proud” (16 July 1915, cited in Durie 2003: 187). Many other towns also associated their ‘respectable’ reputation with the groups of tourists they attracted, like Girvan which had the distinction of attracting ministers (Burnett 2004: 85). These forms of differentiation helped smaller communities compete with the areas and cities of Scotland that had longer histories of tourism.  

Touristic markers and their associated itineraries such as the early scenics, travel lectures and photographic displays played their own part in the Glasgow Fair Festivities. Even with the staggering amount of excursion traffic leaving Glasgow every July there remained many options for those unable to travel to virtually participate in the mass exodus. The nineteenth-century Glasgow Fair had always relished views and experiences from elsewhere. As Burnett argues, alongside the individual travelling showmen were larger productions which provided the patrons of the Fair with a way to escape the confines of the cityscape, including menageries and panoramas (2004). By the turn of the next century new forms of representational technology took hold, including moving-picture shows. Many of the travelling showmen who brought these moving pictures to the Fair circuit had previously been involved in different facets of the Scottish fairground industry, including George Green and Robert Calder. Within a few years permanent spaces began to pop up and by 1920 approximately 132 venues had been used to exhibit films around Glasgow (Early Cinema of Scotland Research Project 2015).  

Moving-picture audiences were predominantly made up of members of the working classes who could only afford to take day trips or did not leave the city at all during the two-week holiday. The shows provided a way for these communities to experience the technological and sociological trappings of modernity in multiple new ways. Travelogues, scenics and many local topicals couched the astonishment associated with the new medium within traditional landscapes aesthetics and heritage-based narratives, offering audiences an antidote to the increasingly urban and industrialised city at the turn of the century. These films were marketed as both aspirational as well as performative models. They became a key part in not only promoting the growing tourism industry but bolstering cultural identity across regional and national boundaries, embedding new groups inside the larger rhetoric.  

While individual scenic and local topical titles were rarely featured in programmes and advertisement after 1901, they did form an important part of an evening’s proceedings, appearing in between comedies and dramas. Audiences did not seem to be attracted to images just of distant locations but also of places far closer to home. In the early programmes that do feature a complete list there is evidence of multiple films depicting both natural and historical sites across the country. For example, in an article for the Educational Film Bulletin, T.A. Blake describes one of the first programmes to be shown at the Sauchiehall Street skating palace in Glasgow. It included both an English scenic depicting the Dover coast and a local topical depicting the departure of the Columba steamboat from Rothesay (Blake 1956: 13-14). During the same period, veteran George Green presented views of Fingal’s Cave in a programme exhibited in Vinegar Hill. Other cultural practices like scenics dedicated to the Highland Fling were equally popular. One depiction presented by William Walker played alongside local topicals of the Forth Bridge and Braemar Games (Walker 1897). Walker also exhibited a scenic called Scenes at Balmoral which presented a series of landscapes in both clear and stormy weather (Smith 1985) and, at his company’s first exhibition in Glasgow, had multiple topicals depicting community events around the city (Glasgow Herald 29 December 1900: 4). Moving-picture shows could be found in many of the most popular towns during the Fair fortnight. Rothesay had five venues, Greenock ten, and Perth seven (Early Cinema of Scotland Research Project 2015). These were particularly popular during the holiday period. Rothesay had an estimated 12,000 audience members attending its show on Fair Monday in 1913 (Rothesay Express 5 August 1913: 2f cited in Burnett, 83).   

Early scenics and some local topicals created a particularly powerful overlap between established itineraries and indexical representation for audiences. Katrin Lund argues that representational markers like these – as well as more personal documents like lists, diaries and photographs – are all “different ways of fixing, framing, and objectifying movement over landscape” (2006: 1). Film provided just this form of visual mapping, playing an important role in choreographing both the sites of attraction and their experiential parameters, providing a means of organising the overlap between public and personal cultural and spatial narratives (Urry and Larsen 2011: 191). Both scenics and topicals reinforced aspects of the industry narrative by repopulating the imaginary and real spaces that had been emptied by the Clearances and virtually embedding new audiences in the cultural practice.   

By this time, scenic films depicted leisure travel as a fully developed cultural practice. One of the most prolific moving picture companies in this regard was the Charles Urban Trading Company. The company was dedicated to creating an alternative sphere for film outside of the entertainment industry. That sphere centred on what the company saw as the educational potential of medium. Urban considered the travelogue genre as providing a direct form of documentation and access, featuring the slogan “We Put the World Before You” on each of its production catalogue covers. The camera was able to replicate the complete experience of travel, to put its largely working-class audiences in contact with a whole range of sites, from exotic locations in the colonies to popular middle-class leisure destinations across Great Britain with the aim of eventually filming every part of the country. Scotland received quite a bit of attention from the company with a series of ever-more sophisticated collections dedicated to the nation over the first decade of the twentieth century. In 1906, Urban introduced the “Bonnie Scotland” series with twenty-seven titles, describing the production as “the most comprehensive animated series of Scotland and its Beauties ever published”. Like a moving-picture encyclopedia, the series claims to reproduce “every point of the Beauty and Natural Life of Scotland, from the Border to the Far North of the Outer Hebrides” including many “revelations” about Scottish culture and environment hitherto undocumented (The Urbanora Catalogue 1906: 2).   

The collection documented a large subsection of the country, including every popular historic and natural tourist destination. It did so in a manner directly mirroring the literary tropes which had previously defined Scotland’s tourism identity, namely relying on what Kenneth McNeil (2007) has termed “highlandism” in order to reconcile the disparate communities and landscapes. Highlandism describes a set of anthropological assumptions grounded in a geographical determinism about cultural identity and the Highland landscape (86). This assumption about the people living in the Highlands was one of the central motivations attracting early English travellers northwards. Companies like Urban worked in collaboration with the established excursion industry including the Highland, Caledonian, and London and North Western Railways, in order to embed these tropes into the ever expanding travel network.  

The itineraries and aesthetics of these multi-shot films were rooted within a traditional middle-class travel narrative, even though they were largely exhibited to working class audiences. One of the most typical is Urban’s In The Scottish Highlands. In the first part of the film Urban presents a series of “typical” Highland imagery, including a “wee scots lassie” in full dress, winding mountain roads, “long-haired Howetson [sic] sheep”, “druidical stones at Callanish” and the wooldyeing process on the Isle of Harris using a series of early “primitive methods” (Urban Catalogue 1908). The second part the film shifts attention away from these markers of heritage to an encyclopedic collection of romantic landscapes. This section includes the Falls of Clyde, a steamer travelling up to the Highlands (accompanied with an image of a Highland dance being performed on board), Fingal’s Cave, Loch Katrine and Loch Lomond.   

Both sections of the film construct a wide inventory of what the company defined as Highland culture, erasing regional differences, while also preserving a strictly detached contemplative space for the tourist. Leisure travel is depicted here as an educational and aesthetic pursuit, reserved for those already inclined. Urban looked at each of these aspects and imagery as symbolic parts of the cultural experience and, therefore, educational to the working-class spectator. The film acts more like a performative space than as a form of documentation as it avoids all sign of the reality of travel during the period. Where are the crowds and competing tour operators? When tourists are placed within the frame, they remain in small familial groups, often transfixed before the landscape. Any suggestion of the participation of the working classes in the cultural practices is removed.  

While In The Scottish Highlands was typical of the visual tone of many of the scenics made during the early period, there were other travel narratives that more closely depicted the mass leisure travel occurring during the summer holidays, especially in relation to Glasgow. The 1909 film Glasgow and the Clyde Coast (also known as Holiday Trip to the Clyde Coast of Scotland) is another sponsored film, this time by the London and North Western Railway. The film remains very much tied to the middle-class travel experience, presenting train travel in a genteel manner, but is better able to map the physical geography and popular rhetoric surrounding day-rippers going down the Clyde. The film opens inside the luncheon car of the Caledonian train travelling northwards towards Glasgow. The camera pans back and forth presenting numerous welldressed couples being served dinner while watching the landscape skip by. When the busy train finally stops inside Glasgow Central Station the film cuts to a series of locations immediately surrounding the station including George Square and Sauchiehall Street. As the film begins its way down the Clyde by steamer, we are first introduced to a pan of the shipbuilding yards before moving further west to the more picturesque views of Dumbarton Rock. Once it gets as far as Gourock pier, the shot is reversed and we see families clambering aboard an already full deck. The steamer continues on past Dunoon pausing inside Wemyss Bay station to watch a passing pipe band. It then makes its way to Rothesay where the pier and esplanade are busy with holiday makers. In a similar manner to Glasgow, there are many activities awaiting families, including pony-rides, boat-racing and theatre shows. The film ends in Millport with numerous images of children playing on the beach and rocks.   

Overall, Glasgow and the Clyde Coast presents an accurate visual map of typical leisure patterns, fulfilling its function as a sponsored piece of advertisement for the tourism industry. It does so, though, from the same distance as In the Scottish Highlands, catering towards the declining middle-class tourist rather than the emerging travelling working class. The film portrays an important historical meeting point as middle- and working-class tourists come into contact with each other in both Glasgow and Rothesay before returning to their chosen activities. It acts as an important reminder of the manner in which different regional and class-based cultural activities were performed in parallel with each other.   

The local film offered a slightly different perspective on leisure travel to the scenic. Usually commissioned by exhibition spaces and showmen to attract larger audiences, this subgenre of the topical relied on the surprising power of both local and personal recognition rather than any particular pictorial or landscape aesthetic. Tom Gunning describes the “cinema of locality” as “the amazement of a direct connection” embedded in the “viewing process” (52). The group of film’s primary function was to provide the opportunity for audiences to see themselves and their communities on film. The importance of these local programmes for early 1900s audiences across Great Britain cannot be overemphasised. Production companies such as Mitchell & Kenyon and Hepworth committed large amounts of their resources to this group of films (Toulmin: 35). Other smaller companies cropped up throughout the first decade including one Glaswegian topical company which advertised the subgenre’s popularity by stating, “With local Topicals your pay box will be busy – always. The public like nothing better; show them local sports, processions, etc. The nearer home you bring them the greater is their interest” (Robello Collection, Scottish Screen Archive). Theatres placed that local recognition front and centre, as in this advertisement for a Calder production in Perth: “Grand local picture of Pullar’s Dye Works Employees. Have you been Cinematographed? Come and See!” (Calder, Miscellaneous Cinema Records, Scottish Screen Archive) The films documented local events and scenes of everyday life, and, while most remained close to home, others, like the celebration of Bannockburn’s sixth centennial, helped advertise individual regions across the country (Stirling Observer 4 July 1914).   

This seemed to happen quite regularly in tourist hotspots like Rothesay. In one example Palace Picture House sponsored George Green’s topical production company to make a film about holiday-makers entitled Holiday Scenes at Rothesay. This film presents the arrival of the steamboat Columba into Rothesay Pier with a series of opening title cards describing the “full complement of Holiday-makers” on board. Once all the people disembark a long pan presents the busy pier and pavilion dotted with trams and horse drawn coaches. Unlike in the previous film, the images of the beach which come next are chaotic in nature with families eagerly competing for some space to relax and play. The middle of the film is made up of multiple panning shots of different tourist locations including Rothesay Castle, which, compared to the previous few shots, is presented in a rather bucolic manner with only a handful of tourists appearing near the entrance. As the film reaches its end it returns to the Ladies’ Bathing Pond and family beach with groups of women smiling and waving at the camera from the water. It concludes at the putting green situated along the city’s pier with an inter-title referring to the famous Scottish golfer John Hutchison, stating that he “had better look out”. Several families are presented trying their hand at the sport seemingly unaware that they are being captured on film. This film combines attributes of the scenic genre with those of the local topical embracing the crowds drawn to the camera alongside detached landscape views. Unlike the previous two films, which catered to audiences from further afield, Green’s topical was exhibited to audiences who were both local and regional tourists. Alongside those who traveled in mid-July from Glasgow, the summer months involved numerous other holiday periods celebrated by smaller communities which provided the opportunity for those working in hospitality to visit other local communities (Stirling Observer 20 June 1914). Tourists and locals would therefore perform dual roles with a great degree of variation between behaviour patterns, motivations and internal narratives. This overlap of different forms of the tourist gaze further complicates the immediacy of the imagery in this film, blurring the boundaries between home and away and work and play which usually define leisure travel.  

Each of these three films acts as a rather complex tourist marker, not only validating the importance of certain sites but prescribing appropriate behaviour through different forms of regional and class-based recognition. Leisure travel during the annual Glasgow Fair was supported by each of these markers, promoting various aspects of regional tourism whether the audience members were planning on travelling, currently on tour or could only afford to attend the picture shows. While early film did occasionally document new traditions associated with the rise in working-class tourism, it continued to place those locations and activities within the confines of the previous excursion map. Where you can go, how you recognise that space and what you did while there was closely organised by the travel industry promoting an image of Scotland as open for exploration rather than one which was still largely in private hands. This period of film-making prompts further avenues of investigation about the manner in which the emergence of moving pictures expanded the role and ideology of the tourist’s wandering gaze. These new audiences were able to embed themselves virtually into places both near and far, constructing complex tensions between immersive and detached forms of spectatorship. While it would take several more years before cinema began to document larger experimentation and travel by working-class tourists, the first decade offers perspective on the larger institutions at play in regulating local spatial identities as well as the overlap between individual genres in relation to defining the realms of work and leisure.  

The intersection of working-class travel and tourist markers makes the Glasgow Fair an important barometer for judging the role of the traditional excursion map in shaping emerging spatial patterns. These patterns reflected long-standing tensions over the relationship between land and property, and, the importance of free movement and access in determining labour and leisure practices. With the rise of tourism from both across Scotland and England, the right to roam underwent an even more complex and often paradoxical period of transition as the excursion industry came head to head with property owners. But rather than expanding with the increasing numbers of middle- and working-class tourists, operators provided more ways of accessing those sites which had been traditionally popular, organising behaviour through tightly managed itineraries. Those itineraries relied on travel as an antidote to the stresses of daily urban life and work, constructing an even deeper divide between it and the realm of leisure. With these shifting assumptions about space and access came a transformation in the way working-class people experienced natural spaces, binding both to their own contested identities.  


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