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Image - Isobel Marshal
Image - Isobel Marshal


Image - Isobel Marshal
Image - Isobel Marshal


Image - Isobel Marshal



UPDATE 7th DECEMBER 2011: A very thorough and detailed response was received from the AOF Heritage Trust, as follows:

The Foresters Heritage Trust
Registered Charity No. 11098589
29/33 Shirley Road
SO15 3EW

Hello Ken

Thank you for your enquiry, which the Museum pc had unaccountably put into the junk mailbox. My apologies for the delay in responding. The banner that is shown was, as the information on the web page mentioned suggests, connected with Court "Vale of Irvine", No. 6822, of the Ancient Order of Foresters Friendly Society (AOF). The Court met in Newmilns and was established in 1881 so this is the earliest date for the banner's age. I would not think, however, that the acquisition of a banner was top of the members priorities in its early years, and probably only became desirable as the Court was more firmly established.

By 1900, Court "Vale of Irvine" had some 329 members, so was doing pretty well. At that time the meeting place was the Temperance Hall, in East Strand. Ten years later, in 1910, still meeting at the Temperance Hall, the Court had 363 members. During the greater part of its existence the Court was a constituent member of the AOF Ayr District, established in 1874.

The design of the banner, whilst containing those elements that I would expect, ie the obverse showing the AOF Coat of Arms with Forestric supporters in the centre and on the reverse the parable of the Good Samaritan, the style has a more modern appearance than the majority of banners that I have seen. In that sense it is unusual, and dates perhaps from the 20th century rather than the 19th century. It is also different in that the setting of the painted centre pieces on a white backing, rather than green, which is the standard Foresters colour, makes it intriguing. Is there any sign of a manufacturers name on it, as this might be of some help in dating it more precisely?

The survival of such AOF banners is probably greater than can be accurately quantified. Some years back the Peoples History Museum in Manchester conducted a survey of banners known to exist in the UK at the time, and this ran certainly into three figures. Edinburgh City Museum mounted a banner display in c2001 and in this I think there were maybe one or two AOF banners, although there were several Loyal Order of Ancient Shepherds and Independent Order of Rechabites banners in the display. Recently a banner came to light in Jedburgh and I was happy to be able to give some guidance to Hawick Museum on its acquisition. Hopefully they are going to be able to conserve and display it. It is my feeling that many friendly society banners are held in the stores of Museums throughout the UK, but one clear problem in displaying them is their size, up to 18ft x 12ft. A further problem is
the almost total lack of knowledge of friendly societies and their pivotal role in the culture of British working people over a two hundred year span. Our Trust aims to redress that lack of knowledge by making available to local, family, social and economic historians such information as we hold in our Archive. If you would like further details of the Newmilns Court, please let me know and I can do some further research.

I hope that this has been of some use. Our website www.aoforestersheritage.com has images of a number of banners in our collection as well as other information. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any comments or further questions.

Best wishes


Dr Roger Logan
Honorary Secretary
The Foresters Heritage Trust


UPDATE TO THE TEXT BELOW: Some interest was generated by viewing a high res photo of the cloth, and there seemed to be faces showing at different places. It was as though there was something behind the painting. After lifting the banner from the back cloth, it revealed another painting on the back. So the banner turns out to be from Newmilns, "Court" number 6822 of the Ancient Order of the Foresters!!


This large banner shows a kind of a desert scene, maybe The Good Samaratin. But where is it from?? We have it from a few sources that is not Masonic, and nothing to do with the Royal British Legion? So exactly what does Ct VALE OF IRVINE No 6822 really mean then? Answers anyone? The size of this can be seen in the above image of the two men holding the banner up.

Other views around the town of Newmilns are given below. Remember, contributions are more than welcome. Click the CONTACT button top right.