coverage: 20th century
|Extent||1 digital audio file(s), 1 digital photograph(s), 1 papers, 1 digital file|
|Notable persons / organisations||Armstrong, Neil, 1930-2012 (astronaut)|
|Subject||Working life, Local Government, Textiles, Community Life, Langholm, Drumlanrig Castle, Carlisle|
Interview with Grace Brown (aged 75) of Langholm about the time when the town council invited astronaut, Neil Armstrong, to visit the town shortly after his moon landing. Langholm was the ancestral home of the Armstrongs and so the community was especially excited about his achievement and the town council were keen to mark this. Grace explains that it was some time before they heard back and the town council were on tenterhooks waiting for his decision. They had decided that if he did visit they would make his the first ever freeman of Langholm. For this honour, a burghes ticket was printed on the finest calf vellum and encased in a specially commissioned carved replica of Gilnockie Tower.
Grace was deputy town clerk at the time of the ceremony and she describes the experience - taking us from the initial plans through to the day of the visit. She provides lots of detail about the different parts of the day, which included official sections and more informal opportunities. She recalled that Neil was very friendly and chatted to many people as he made his way through the town after the official ceremony. She recalls that he was presented with quite a few gifts, including tweed from the local mills. One mill had woven a special lunar tartan as a gift. Grace had worked with the town council for 40 years and describes this event, and meeting Neil Armstrong, as the highlight of her career. She also revealed that she didn't wash her hand for a week after shaking hands with Neil.
Towards the end of this interview, Grace reflects on more recent changes in local government and the move towards centralisation of resouces. As a result of these, Neil Armstrong was not only the first, but also the last person to be made a freeman of Langholm. Grace also talks a little about how Langholm has always seen itself perhaps more of a border town than a south-west town. And, she reflected, the town was also close to Carlisle, where many people did most of their shopping. Town had even contributed to Carlisle airport. Returning to the subject of Neil Armstrong, Grace said there were plans to put up a plaque or memorial to him in the centre of the town as part of the forthcoming celebrations. Grace has also been a registrar in Langholm and is involved with the Common Riding festivities and the interview ends with a discussion about a further interview on these subjects.
|Related||This interview was also recorded on video - see file DG17/1/3/1.|
|Usage Statement||We give permission for the re-use of our collections material for non-commercial purposes under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 4.0 International Licence.|
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