The last parade on Strand Road

Last parade on Strand Road passing McDowell & Duncan premises, which was latter bombed.
Last parade on Strand Road passing McDowell & Duncan premises, which was latter bombed.

It was on August 12 in 1969, that the last parade by an organisation from a Protestant, Unionist or Loyalist background made its way along Strand Road.

Watching the parade was Colin Stannett, who was standing on Strand Road with his wife, taking what would turn out to be pictures of the final the outward and return journey of the bands and marchers ever to take place along Strand Road, as the Apprentice Boys of Derry staged their annual celebrations.

A tartan-clad band passes the former Craigs Engineering Works on Strand Road in 1969. (Photos: Colin Stannett)

A tartan-clad band passes the former Craigs Engineering Works on Strand Road in 1969. (Photos: Colin Stannett)

Not only are Colin’s pictures an historic record of that parade, but they are also an historic window on the past, as the Strand Road used to appear before the Troubles took their toll. Still standing ate the Londonderry Corporation building, McCandless and Piggot, Craig’s engineering works and McDowell & Duncan’s - all of which were raised to the ground in bomb attacks.

The road is as it was before the PSNI station was built, and at that time, if Colin’s memory is correct, the old asylum was actually still standing.

Perusing the pictures Colin recalled: “The pictures were taken down on Strand Road before the police station was bombed in 1969, on August 12. It was me who took the pictures. I was 29 at the time and the wife was expecting our first child. We got married in 1968.”

Holding one of the photographs he commented: “In the background of this one you can see the Londonderry Corporation electricity showroom, which was badly bombed in the 1970s, as was McCandless and Piggot’s garage and McDowell’s...I think they were an electricity supplies showroom.

“I didn’t know it then but it was the last time any of the bands paraded on Strand Road in the Cityside and while all that was taking place while we were standing on Strand Road they had begun throwing stones at the William street Corner,” he said, adding: “I remember the very next day they used tear gas in the city for the first time”.

He continued: “The parade came down Shipquay Street, went in front of the Guildhall and up Strand Road, up Lawrence Hill, along Northland Road and down Rock Road and it came back down the Strand Road to go back up to Society Street.”

Asked how he came to rediscover the pictures, Colin said he had put the pictures in a photo album and his grandchildren Brooke and Jay had been looking at them and wanted to know more.

“I just thought I would bring them into the Sentinel because they were interesting. Many of the young women and men in the photographs in the bands would be in their 50s or 60s now and maybe they can identify themselves or others in the pictures. It would be interesting to know who they were,” said Colin.

“Its hard to believe these were taken 45 years ago. The wife and I celebrate our 46th wedding anniversary this Christmas,” he added.