History of CCR

Copshaw Common Riding 6th July 2024

History of CCR

Over the next 6 weeks we will be publishing the History of CCR, 
"In The Beginning"

This has been written by CCR Legend, Ex Tub, Joiner (free estimates), Musician & Tom Cruise look-a-like Mr Ian Nichol.

The cronicles, which were proof read by J.R. Hartley, have recently been published in The Copshaw Clatter (available at any good book shop, grocery store & butchers) will also be published on our Facebook page.

Copshaw Common Riding 


In the beginning….



Over the years a lot of people have asked me about the history of the Copshaw Common Riding and how it all began. Following a bit of research, myself and some of the other original founder members have pieced together what we think happened.  It all started such a long time ago that some of the finer details may be a little hazy and if the truth be told alcohol may have played its part in some of the memory loss!


Back in the late 90s we had talked for a couple of years about having our own Common Riding in Newcastleton. We decided that it would be disrespectful to completely copy other towns and their traditions, so the alternative was to be alternative! Rather than our principal being a Cornet (military rank or ice cream cone) we decided Copshaw would have a 50p Tub instead. Other towns have right and left-hand men, we would have right and left-legged men, laterally they would become the right and left-legged persons. The other common ridings do their events on horseback, we thought it would be easier, cheaper and more eco-friendly to ride bicycles, but we agreed that we should dress in full horse-riding attire. Our neighbours over the hill get their common riding colours each year from the winner of the Epsom Derby. As we were on bikes it made sense to take our colours from the winner of the Tour de France – yellow! Every year the same, bonus!


1998 July 4th, approximately 3.03am. At a party somewhere in Newcastleton, probably Oliver Place, it was agreed that we should definitely do a Common Riding this year. We think the decision was taken then that Barry Robson would be the 50p tub, Ian Nichol would be right-legged man and Martin Pearson would be left-legged man.



Approximately 6.01am, 5 Oliver Place, Newcastleton.

Barry Robson, armed with a bottle of tequila, was throwing stones at Ian Nichol’s bedroom window. Ian Nichol opened his window and said something like,

Go away old chap, it’s awfully early to be throwing stones at one’s window, go back to your bed, goodbye.”


Approximately 8.06am , Alan Aks Hoose

Jamie Atkinson had the sense to set his alarm clock and was determined that he was going to give it a go. Dressed in his grandad’s tweed jacket he headed down to Holmfoot, that’s at the foot of the Holm, entered Martin Pearson‘s house and climbed the ladder into the loft. Martin was fast asleepJamie remembers Martin being a very grumpy version of his normal cheery self and Martin repeating the words,

No, no, no, please go away Jamie and let me continue with my much-needed sleep.”

To Jamie‘s credit, he insisted that Martin rose from his slumber and the pair of them set off up the street in tweed jackets, getting some strange looks from the early risers. They headed to Doncaster Street to collect Barry Robson, who was lying face up on his bed in full regalia cuddling the bottle of tequilaThe three of them then proceeded to 5 Oliver Place with thebottle of tequila, the time 9amThere they woke up Ian Nichol and even supplied him with the traditional clothing, which included a pair of boots a good few sizes too big for him! 


By this stage Colin Mitchell, who was also living in Oliver Place, and Michael Adamson from just round the corner on Whitchester Lane had somehow remembered the plan from the earlier party. Either instinct or noise drew them towards the commotion that was now occurring in the Oliver Place car park. 


Next the 6 strong party headed down to collect Shaun Turnbull, who was living next to Freds shop (Holm Hardware), he didn’t take much persuasion to join in!


The magnificent seven made their way on to Copshaw Place to collect Gary Cuthbert. After telling him the plan Gary, being older and wiser than us younger ones said, “Go along now, I shall catch you up.”


They set off back to Oliver Place, Craig Adamson had just arrived home from a nightshift at Hawick fire station. I remember Craig asking what on earth we all were doing dressed up like that and we told him our intentions. Craig thought that this sounded like fun, he then appeared in a lovely purple dress and a beautiful blonde wig saying that this needed to be an equal opportunities Common riding, fit for the 20th century.


At this point Gary Cuthbert appeared on the scene with plans to visit his parents, his plan was short lived as he accepted an invitation into the garden shed at 5 Oliver Place for singing and tequila.


With the 9 founder members now fully established and a vague plan to follow, the next box to tick was the Hound Trail. This was conducted round the garden in 5 Oliver Place where the resident dogs Matt and Blue chased a dirty rag around the garden, Blue was declared the firstever winner of the Hound Trail and the Copshaw Common Riding had begun.


To be continued…………

Ian Nichol CCRFM


The Flag

Back in 1998 the first Copshaw Common Riding hound trail winner was Blue, a four-year-old Springer Spaniel bitchThe proud owner, Ian Nichol, was presented with nothing but a pat on the back or a somewhat forced well done. There were a few laughs at how ridiculous this was, but it all had to start somewhere!


The full complement of riders then mounted their metal steads and moved onto the next stop, Freds corner. The intention was to collect a flag, an essential item for any Common Riding worth its salt. On the journey from the hound trail to Fred’s corner the first CopshawCommon riding song was written by self-proclaimed local popstar and lead singer of internationally unknown pop group Chianti, Mr Martin Pearson. The tune was from the famous Hawick Common Riding song Teribus, sadly or thankfully the words can’t be recalled.


When the troop reached Fred’s corner, three members entered Fred’s shop (now HolmHardware) they later emerged with a flagnot THE FLAG’ but a flag, approximately 32cm x 23cm. This handkerchief of a flag was eventually replaced with THE FLAG ten months later. 


This event in 1998 later turned into one of the main ceremonies on Copshaw Common Riding Day, the touching of the cloth ceremony which goes like this…


The Touching of the Cloth Ceremony

In the year of our Lord, nineteen hundred and ninety-eight, on the first Saturday of July, took place a great fracard, The Battle of Freds corner. Where nine young locals, eight men and one lady, took it upon themselves to rescue the Copshaw Common riding standard from its captor. After a well-planned and rehearsed ambush, three of the Raiders entered the premises while the remaining six stood guard outside. They overcame all the odds and retrieved the flag to its new and rightful owners, the aforementioned Copshaw Common Riding Committee.

To this day those brave young men and the young lady have flown that standard with pride, and Mr Ewart was able to retire using the profits from the aforementioned sale. I will now ask all the original surviving members of the raiding party to step forward and touch the sacred cloth and give three cheers to this year’s Tub. 


During this ceremony the conveyor, usually Mr Gary Cuthbert, stands upon the flood stane,this is situated at Freds cornerThis stone was planted to commemorate the great Liddesdale flood of 1846 which caused much devastation not just in Liddesdale but over a huge area including Carlisle, Hawick and KelsoIt began with a gigantic thunderstorm on the evening of the 29th of July 1846, not only devastating property but devastating life, two horse riderswere washed away to their deaths somewhere near Canonbie after they returned home fromthe Langholm Common riding. There were many properties and houses destroyed and washed away, these included the Whitrope Bar House, Leahaugh Holm and Redheugh Holm. It is said that the front door lintel from the Whitrope Bar house was later discovered at Kershopefoot Bridge and this was the stone that is thought to be planted at Freds corner.This is why we have a ‘Ride Oot Bye at Kershopefoot or thereabouts.


The flood stone is also known as the healun stane, named for its healing powers.  It is said that if you stand upon the stain and the sun is in the east, the rain in the west, the sna is from the north and the wind blows from the south then you will be cured from your ills.


Incidentally legend has it that THE FLAG was a certain favourite of Mr Fred Ewart who would regularly take it with him on his biannual trips to Wembley with Mr Jim Robson and Mr Jim Cuthbert. It is also thought that during the air raids of World War II it was used as a blackout curtain to prevent any light coming from the bowly hole which connected the house to the shop, the flag already had some history before it started making some more!

To be continued……….


The Monument, Snogging the SodSupping theTequila


Date July 4th 

Time 10:33 

Now that the battle weary nine have the flag in their possession, they head up the Holm Hill to the monument of the famous poet John Byres (it is also thought John Byers invented the cowshed)Now at the monument, one of the members, we think it was Jamie Atkinson, suggests that this is the time and the place to mark our first boundary. This was much to the bewilderment of the rest of the party, but they agreed to go along with it. Some of the details are a wee bit sketchy but a sod was definitely dug, the hole was filled with beer bottles for future treasure hunters and the sod was then replaced. The actual snogging of the sod ceremony and the supping the tequila ceremony took place the following year.


The snogging on the sod ceremony goes something like this.

The official speaker of the Copshaw Common Riding Committee, currently and for quite a few years now, Mr Gary Cuthbert stands in front of the Byres monument with a shovel in his hand held aloft. He cries ‘with this sod I'll cut this shovel, one for the Tubtwo for the Tub, three for the Tub,four for the Tub’.  The sod is then placed on the sacred beer tray, held by the official sod carrier Mr Scott Hay.  An orderly queue is formed, and everyone takes their turn to snog the sod, this is after they have supped the tequila which is supplied and offered by the Tub.


The snogging of the sod tradition originates from the following story.

The snogging of the sod represents an ancient tradition that goes back to the time of the border reiverswhen local raiders would travel from these valleys down to England to borrow a few of their cattle. The raiders would cover their faces from the dirt or soil from a freshly cut sod, this was for camouflage,and it was also thought to bring luck as they had their home soil on their face whilst rading.


The supping the tequila ceremony is also steeped in history.

The supping of the tequila comes from a time when Copshaw was part of an ancient trade route. After the merchant ships landed in the old port of Annan to distribute its cargo from South America, traders would follow the old drove roads all over ScotlandOne of the first stops on the road to Edinburgh was old Copshaw Holm where the local farmers would trade a few of their famous chickens and beef from the borrowed cattle for bottles of tequila


To be continued…..

Ian Nichol  CCRFM


The History of the Copshaw Common Riding, in the beginning….

Part 4, The Olive Tree, The Kipper and The Barley Fadge


As the band of brothers and sister leave the John Byers monument, Mr Jamie Atkinson informs all that they need to collect the Common Riding emblems. Again, this comes as a surprise to the rest of the party, but Jamie had done his homework. Jamie told his comrades of his plan for the emblems


4th July 1998 10:51am

Destination – TomBakery (The Olive Tree)


The troop entered TomBakery and as luck would have it thewhole conversation was caught on security camera. Unfortunately, there was no sound, but thanks to a very average lip reader we have managed to translate what we think may have been the discussion


Mr Jamie Atkinson: Now then Margaret, fine morning.

Mrs Margaret Imrie: Good morning lads and lassie? (as she looks at Craig Adamson) what can I get for you on this lovely morning and why are you all dressed like youre about to ride horses?

Mr Gary Cuthbert: Were having a common riding.

Mr Michael Adamson (shouts randomly)I’m the Earth for the Common Riding.

Mr Martin Pearson: Do you have any salted herring,Margaret?

Mrs Margret Imrie: No, were out of salted herring but we have a lovely locally caught kipper.

Mr Barry Robson: Where was it caught?

Mrs Margaret Imrie: It was gaffed in the gullet this morning.

Mr Shaun Turnbull: Splendid, we’ll take it.

Mr Colin Mitchell (in a Geordie accent): Yee can catch sum canny kipas in keelda wata yu na.

Mr Ian NicholMargaretdo you have any barley bannas by any chance?

Mrs Margaret Imrie: Sold out I’m afraid, but we still have a freshly made barley fadge left.

Mr Gary Cuthbert: Is it made from the finest barley and the finest fadge?

Mrs Margaret Imrie: Yes, the very finest.

Mr Gary Cuthbert: Super, we’ll take it.

Mr Michael Adamson (shouts randomly): Sup tea ears for the Common Riding.

Mrs Margaret Imrie: Anything elsewhat would you like madam?

Mr Craig Adamson: One would like a cream scone because Iam a lady, that would be super thank you.

Mr Jamie Atkinson: Whats the damage Margaret?

Mrs Margaret Imrie: Don’t worry it’s on the house as this looks like a lot of fun, what do you want these items for?

Mr Jamie Atkinson: They are oor Copshaw Common Riding emblems.

Mr Shaun Turnbull: And itoor food while we gan checking oor boondaries.

Mr Barry Robson: Oor version of the feeding of the 5000.

Mr Ian Nichol: Thank you Margaret, you’ve been ever so kind, now we must leave and head for our next destination.

Mrs Margaret Imrie: Which is?

Mr Gary Cuthbert: The Holm Brig.

Mr Martin Pearson: Oor second boundary.



And so, the famous emblems the barley fadge and the kipper were now established.

To be continued…..

Ian Nichol CCRFM



The History of the Copshaw Common Riding in the beginning….

Part 5, The Holm Brig, The Whisky and Toblerone


Tub Robson, his merry men and lady leave Tom‘s Bakery armed with their new Copshaw Common Riding emblems: the kipper and the barley fadge. Mr Martin Pearson is hollering, “Off to our second boundary, come on, mount your steeds and we’ll be on our way.” Moments later they arrive at the Holm Brig.


4 July 1998 -11:03am

Destination- The Holm Brig 


On arrival the plan was not clear. The mood in the camp was of happiness, disbelief and jubilation. I’m not sure why but I distinctly remember this moment, alcohol may have fuelled these feelings.


As the steeds were tied up to rest, some cars were approaching the bridge, someone thought it would be a good idea to stop the oncoming vehicles.

Ye shall not pass,” was the order.  The driver stops his car, rolls down his window and asks, “What on earth is going on here? What’s with the horse-riding gear and who’s that good looking lass with the wig on?


Mr Gary Cuthbert explains, “We are having a Common Riding and we are checking that there are no thieves or vagabonds so you’ll need to either tell us a joke or sing a song then you may pass, and by the way that fine looking lass is called Craig.


Much to our delight, the driver thought this was a bit of harmless fun, he told his knock knock joke and then he was on his way. This went on for about an hour or so and 97% of the drivers were up for a bit of fun and played along.


By this stage the Copshaw comrades were running out of refreshments, so they mounted their steeds and headed to The Dormouse (The Trap), which is now the official watering hole on Copshaw Common riding day. Many more refreshments where devoured before all the participants ended up having a siesta, they had arranged to meet again that evening in the Middle Square at the fountain. 

Just a few years after this, following some research by the Copshaw Common Riding official maker upperer, it was discovered that the Holm Brig had some very famous history indeed. Which leads us to the Whisky and Toblerone ceremony


The Toblerone & Whisky Ceremony

This new, but ancient, ceremony is thought to have evolved in the 19th century. Many historians believe the precise date was between 1822 and 1823. This date coincides with the completion of the Holm Brig which is, of course, a very important part of the foresaid ceremony.

The Holm Brig

So, legend has it that in the years 1822-1823 the very young village of Newcastleton was in the midst of the most important construction in it's fledgling life to date. Like all great erections of it's time, the Holm Brig project needed the best, the best in all fields. So, the folk of Newcastleton summoned the greatest engineers, the most skilled stone masons and the strongest labourers from throughout the land, and all they could come up with was "the Holm Brig". One of the labourers that was working on the bridge was a Swiss man, from Switzerland.  His name was Mr Erup Kubnum, he had come over to Scotland looking for work and his speciality was stairs and steps. One morning after a long hard days work, Mr Kubnum was having a wee rest in Uncle Tom's cabin, (this was named after Mr Thomas Pedammunae, the designer of the cabin). He was drinking his whisky because the water was not safe to drink, he and was dreaming of home when a gush of inspiration hit him. He noticed that in the middle of the brig there was a step like feature, "That would be a good shape for a bar of chocolate," he thought to himself.  Using a little imagination, and a few whiskys you can see where he's coming from!

Some weeks later after the bridge was complete, he headed back to Switzerland where he put his idea into motion and the Holm Brig Bar was created. However, translated into Swiss it became the tob (home) and lerone (bridge), then bingo, the Toblerone was born. It wasn't until some years later, 1867, that his grandson, Jean, decided to put the Toblerone into mass production, the rest of course is history. So, the world famous Toblerone chocolate bar owes its existence to its humble beginnings at the Holm Brig. 

The Ceremony

The actual ceremony itself takes place at the site of Uncle Tom's Cabin at the Holm Brig on the morning of the Common Riding, 11.28am to be precise. At this time a member of the Copshaw Common Riding Committee will present the tub with a bar of Toblerone and a miniature bottle of whisky, then 'three cheers' will be cried. Pureous Bunkumos to all that gather, amen.


To be continued……

Ian Nichol CCRFM


Part 6 (final part)

Part 6 - Handing in the Flag  

July 4th 1998 – 8.03pm   

Location – Riverglade, Doncaster Street (Marion and Ken’s Hoose)

As Tub Robson awakens from his slumber, he manages to roll from his bed and dress himself in his fashionable white shell suit. Remarkably, he has remembered that he has a date with destinyHe looks at himself in the mirror and mumbles that he must go to the fountain in the Middle Square.

When he arrives in the Middle Square, he set eyes on his Common Riding friends and comrades, by now all are dressed in their civilian outfits, even Mr Craig Adamson has surprisingly adopted a more male look for the evening. 

The time is now 8.23pm, Mr Jamie Atkinson climbs up the Middle Square fountain where a small crowd has gatheredHe declares that the day has been an historical occasion and asks Tub Robson to hand the flag inJamie gives three cheers for Tub Robson but instead four are given!! The nine lads head to the Grapes Hotel for some much-needed refreshments and to mull over the day’s eventsSurely this is a one off, no one can take this seriously, and neither they should, it’ll all be forgotten about in a couple of weeks……


Over the last few months myself and the original members have tried to remember what actually happened on the first ever Copshaw Common riding day. I’m pretty sure we’ve probably missed a few things, and some folks may have their own different memories as they watched on from the side-lines.
But, as Gary Cuthbert once famously said to his friends from Hawick and Langholm, it’s got to start somewhere.
Ian Nichol FMCCR


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