Why do Lurgan's Royal Black Preceptories go to Bangor instead of Scarva?

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Thursday 14 July 2022 22:23

On Wednesday Lurgan's Royal Black Preceptories took part in their annual Thirteenth of July celebrations in Bangor.

You can see footage of the Lurgan 'black men' parading in Northern Ireland's newest city above from the On The March Videos YouTube channel - press play to watch.

Many people might wonder why the town's Sir Knights go all the way to the Gold Coast instead to Scarva just down the road.

Well, Sir Knight Clive Higginson, Worshipful Master of Lurgan RBP No 176 and a local historian, explained the reasons why in a post on the Lurgan Royal Black District Chapter No. 2 Facebook page recently.

"The main theory purported is that there was an almighty row between the County and Lurgan District in bygone years and Lurgan District refused to return, wrote Clive.

"Having recently been able to peruse the old minute books of Lurgan Royal Black District Chapter No 2, the following is what I have gleaned.

"The first minute of ‘Lurgan District Black Chapter No 2’ is dated March 8th 1878, meeting in the Orange Hall which was in Castle Lane. The wording of the minutes would infer that the District existed before this date, but as yet no other books have turned up.

"At the June District meeting of that year a deputation was received from the Waringstown district inviting the Lurgan District to join with them in Waringstown for a demonstration on July 13th, the motion was proposed, seconded and unanimously passed.

The following year there was two proposals before the District for the 13th July, one was that we don’t go anywhere, the second was that we go to Scarva. The decision was taken that we go to Scarva by cart. For the next four years it was proposed, seconded and passed that we go to Scarva, sometimes by road and sometimes by rail. The early Preceptories in the District were No’s 68, 108, 189 and 399 with 312 coming in around 1884.

"In 1885 the decision was taken to go to a field half way between Lurgan and Portadown, a committee was formed to organize the day and that they were to arrange speakers and a band.

"In 1886 it was unanimously decided to go to Waringstown, once again a committee was formed and instructed to “engage two bands as cheap as they could”.

"From 1887 to 1896 the District attended Scarva, although in 1888 Bangor was proposed for the first time. After being put to the meeting, Scarva carried by a large majority. In 1897 the District decided that they would like to go towards the Belfast direction, eventually they went to the grounds of a Lords estate on the outskirts of Whiteabbey.

"In 1898 there were three proposals on the table, Waringstown, Scarva and Bangor,. The meeting was adjourned for a fortnight to acquire information from the railway company. When it reconvened, Waringstown and Scarva were withdrawn and Bangor passed unanimously. For the next three years the District went to Bangor.

"In 1902 there were once again three proposals on the table, Larne, Bangor and Lurgan. The District stayed in Lurgan.
From 1903 to the present day it appears that Lurgan Royal Black District Chapter have gone to Bangor on the 13th July. Unfortunately, a minute book appears to be missing from 1913 to 1929. The only years recorded that they did not go was the four years between 1941 and 1944 due to the Second World War.

"For a few years at the beginning of the 1900’s Scarva was proposed as a venue, but after the vote was taken Bangor was always chosen.

"In the 1870’s Lurgan Black District Chapter had four Warrants in its jurisdiction, when RBP 19 took out their Warrant in memory of the late Sir William Allen in 1950, that brought the District up to thirteen Preceptories. The District now sits with eleven Warrants, 19, 68, 108, 127, 176, 189, 207, 353, 399, 1037 and 1144.

"In the heyday of the 1950s, Lurgan Royal Black District Chapter was running three packed trains to Bangor ferrying 2000 passengers.

"So to all the conspiracy theorist, rumour mongers and gossips I am sorry to disappoint, there was no fall out, no row, no dissention, just the hum drum democracy of an ordinary Royal Black District Chapter meeting."

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