View from the Cross: Back for 2017

Lanark welcomed in the New Year in the traditional way by ringing the oldest cast bell in Europe, which has been carried out for the past 38 years by two volunteers, Leonard Gray and Ian Veitch.

In previous years, there used to be a huge gathering at the Cross to bring in the New Year.

From half past 11, the people would gather by the Christmas tree, waiting for the bells to chime, and then celebrate, sharing drinks, kisses and best wishes with everyone in the town. The unofficial party would last until around 1pm, when people went back home to grab some sleep before the Het Pint at 10am.

The Millennium Year was perhaps the biggest street party we have ever seen in our Royal Burgh, outside Lanimer week of course. A torchlit procession to Castlebank, was followed by a firework display that would rival any town in Scotland.

Our High Street was packed afterwards, and the crowds loved the live entertainment and music to bring in the new Millennium.

Fast forward 12 months and Lanarkians wanted more of the same. A similar party was organised, but was not as popular. In the 16 years since, New Year in Lanark has lost the party at the cross.

It has been suggested that the Christmas tree should go back in front of St Nicholas, and give us another focal point, and encourage Lanarkians to gather again for the bells. The appetite for a party is there, but who would organise it.

Sadly, in the past 30 years, times have changed. Pubs closed for business on the 31st of December at 11.30pm, and did not open until 3 January. Nowadays, they are open till 4am on New Year’s Day, and sell tickets to their parties.

Lanark right now can look jealously 12 miles along the road to Biggar, with their bonfire, which attracts thousands from all over the world. Given our skills and creative knowledge, would it be hard for someone to organise an event on Hogmanay to make our Royal Burgh a must visit Hogmanay Party?


Recently we heard the sad news that the popular publican Gerry McGarrigle of the Woodpecker Bar passed away during surgery.

His funeral was held in St Mary’s Church and mourners paid their respects in their hundreds. It literally was standing room only.

Social media tributes were paid to Gerry, and it was apparent that we have lost a very much loved man from our town.

Gerry was probably a silent partner in the majority of relationships which occurred in the town. The Woodpecker was the place to be, and how many drinks would Gerry have poured to give someone the courage to ask their prospective partner out on a date?

Lanark will definitely be a sadder place without Gerry, but everyone who met him will be happier for knowing such a genuinely great man.


Lanark ground to a halt after a much forecasted snow storm reduced the town into something resembling an ice rink.

The High Street was impassable, with lorries and cars struggling to get traction on the white slippy stuff. Tailbacks happened to Hyndford Bridge in one direction, and Cartland Bridge in the other.

Teachers and other workers never made it to their jobs, and kids were kept at home.

This could have been seen as a disaster for the town, but let’s look at the positives.

The two main slopes in Lanark were well attended by families taking advantage of a snow day, Castlebank and Bellfied Hill were busy with sledgers enjoying our alpine spell!

Many others had a day off work, but by midday, the roads were all open again, and we all got home with minor disruptions.

It was great to see the kids enjoying a snow day. Every snow cloud does indeed have a silver lining!