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Northern Scot Christmas Number from 1903

The Opening of the Cooper Park, Elgin, 19th August, 1903

Reproduced with kind permission of The Moray Council

25th December, 1903

Undoubtedly the leading event in Elgin during the year now almost gone has been the opening of the Cooper Park and Grant Lodge. This magnificent Park, along with the fine old mansion of Grant Lodge, which stands within its grounds, is the gift of a son of Elgin, Mr George A. Cooper of The College, to the citizens of Elgin. It is an ideal spot for such a purpose. The Park lies close to the town, is bounded on the one side by the grand old ruins of Elgin Cathedral and on the other by the River Lossie, which describes a semi-circle round the north side of the park.

All the old high walls which hid the place from public view have been taken down and splendid drives and walks now surround and intersect the Park, which is free from all enclosures and always open to the public.

On the west side, a skating pond has been laid out. Not far off is the bandstand, and other portions of the Park are utilised as bowling green, cricket pitch, and parade ground. The buildings of Grant Lodge have been renovated, and will be utilised for the purpose of the Elgin Free Library, as well as for a museum of science and art.

High Street Decorations Procession
The Decorations in High Street The Procession on the March

The Park is adorned with magnificent old trees of great age and size, which will be a shade in summer and a shelter in winter to the citizens who go out to enjoy the pleasure of a saunter through the grounds.

The cost of renovation of the Park and buildings was undertaken, under the direction of Mr A. Marshal McKenzie, A. R. S. A., Aberdeen, entirely at the expense of Mr Cooper, who has handed it over free of all costs to the citizens, and voluntarily offered to contribute to its upkeep.

The Park opening took place on 19th August, 1903, and was quite a gala day in Elgin. There was a general holiday, and the streets were gaily decorated. A Large procession was organised, consisting of various public bodies, which marched from the west end of he town along High Street to the Park, where an enormous crowd had assembled to witness the ceremony of the formal handing over of the gift by Mr Cooper to the town. In handing over the titles to Provost Young, Mr Cooper said that his idea in presenting this Park to Elgin was for the use entirely of the inhabitants and for no other purpose. He hoped that they and their children would come here at all times and enjoy themselves, see the grass growing and the green leaves, and be all the better for it. Provost Young made a suitable speech in reply, accepting the gift on behalf of the citizens and conveying their great gratitude to the benefactor.

View of Lodge
Grant Lodge from the Entrance gate - on the Opening Day

Afterwards a public luncheon was served in the Town Hall, which was well attended. On this occasion Mr Cooper was presented by the Provost and Magistrates with the freedom of the Burgh of Elgin, and during the function many congratulatory speeches were delivered. The afternoon was devoted to the holding of sports, and a very large and varied programme was gone through in presence of almost the entire population of Elgin, and will be recorded as such in the annals of the City.

We present to readers of this Christmas Number a selection of photos of various events and scenes taking [sic] during the open day, in the hope that they will be an acceptable memento of the occasion, and will be prized as such not only at home but by the sons and daughters of Elgin in other lands.

Opening Ceremony
The Opening Ceremony in front of Grant Lodge in which Mr Cooper hands over the Park to the Keeping of the Provost and Town Council of Elgin
Opening Ceremony
A nearer view of the same Ceremony, showing several well-known faces
Tree Planting
Mrs Cooper planting the Commemoration Tree in front of Grant Lodge
Finishing Touches Procession
The Finishing Touches - Blessed by the Provost and Town Clerk Another view of Elgin High Street decorated for the day
Cardiff Greeting Two Citizens
A Cardiff Reader's Greeting Two Citizens of Elgin