The Visits made to Linburn by Her Majesty, The Queen

Posted: 20/04/2016 | Scottish War Blinded

To mark the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth, we have written this special article which looks back on the visits Her Majesty has made to Linburn in 1958 and 1975. The royal visits were keenly anticipated by Scottish War Blinded members, staff and the surrounding West Lothian community, many of whom lined the streets of Wilkieston in order to catch a glimpse of the royal party.

The Royal Visit to Linburn 1975“Last year was a particularly memorable one for Linburn. On July 5th Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh visited the Linburn Estate. During the tour of the workshops, the Queen and the Duke chatted informally with the men and displayed great interest in them and in the goods produced.” (Scottish War Blinded Annual Report 1959)

The first royal visit was made during a time of exciting development for Scottish War Blinded at Linburn. The modern workshops were now in their fifth year of operation and goods produced by members were being exported across the globe, from Canada to America, Africa to the Caribbean. It was explained to Her Majesty that many of the trades practised at Linburn had never been attempted before by a blinded workforce. Leather production had begun at Linburn in 1947 and the members were trained in leather stitching and hand-sewing in 1953 to enhance the range and quality of finished leather products. Members from the Leather Department proudly presented a leather handbag to the Queen and a leather cartridge bag to the Duke.

“The Morning of the 9th July 1975, Linburn’s Royal Day, came in gently, softly, with a hint of mist on the hill after the blazing sunshine of previous weeks. When the Queen’s car swept into the reception area, immediately in front of Linburn’s recreation hall, none bothered about the lack of sunshine. Dressed in a light green coat, with a matching hat, with flowers attractively arranged at the back, the Queen brought a sense of brightness to all present.” (Scottish War Blinded Annual Report 1978)

Scottish War Blinded members and staff from both Linburn and Queen’s Crescent, Glasgow were joined by distinguished guests for Her Majesty’s second visit in 1975. Her Majesty enjoyed meeting the men once again as she visited the recreation hall, hostel and modern workshops and many anecdotes were shared by our members.

The queen met Scottish War Blinded member Tom Stevenson (pictured right) who had been partially blinded at Dunkirk serving with the Black Watch.

“Tom showed the queen some pigeon show cases he had made in the Wire Department. The queen, herself a pigeon fancier, was most interested. She told Tom that although she races quite a lot, unfortunately she doesn’t have many winners.” (Scottish War Blinded Annual Report 1976)

Scottish War Blinded Davie Muir was 76 at the time of the Royal Visit and had been blinded during World War One serving in the Highland Light Infantry.

“I was asked by the queen what I did in the workshops and I said that I make a lot of noise. The queen laughed wholeheartedly and continued to ask if that’s all that I do to which I said I make the occasional handbag or purse. She smiled and said ‘I see, you work in the Leather Department’.”

The visit was concluded with a formal presentation of a garden seat, made by members of Linburn’s Wood Department, by member Matt Howitt on behalf of Scottish War Blinded to Her Majesty. The seat was sent to the Balmoral Estate for use by the Royal Household.

We wish Her Majesty many happy returns on her 90th birthday.