Memoirs of Rothesay by an Old Sailor
Earlier this summer, a lovely man by the name of Alwyn Parker contacted the Pavilion office. Al had been a submariner, serving on the Alaricat as a telegraphist and stationed in Rothesay in the early 1950s. A Yorkshire man by birth with a Scottish father, Al now lives in Tunbridge Wells. At 89, his memories of Rothesay are as vivid as ever, and of the Pavilion in particular which he describes as ‘like a magnet to the sailors’. He recalls many happy hours listening to bands like the Jimmy Shand Orchestra and trying out all the dances. Al formed a deep affection for Rothesay which has stayed with him ever since.
"My first view of Rothesay was from the conning tower of a submarine. It was summer of 1952. Our boat was joining the 3rd S/M Flotilla and as we were tying up alongside the Montclare I noticed what an attractive seafront it had. The most attractive building was an Art Deco one with the word PAVILION on the front of it. I was destined to spend many happy times there! Several of us went ashore that evening visiting a local pub where we had a few pints and sing song! Guess where we ended up? Yes, the PAVILION dance! There were several amenities at the Pavilion but the most popular were the dances. Zavaroni’s fish shop was a favourite of the sailors. The natives of Rothesay were very nice and a good relationship existed between them and the Navy. The only altercations I saw were between matelots squabbling amongst themselves. Another attraction was the black hulled, white superstructure, red funnelled elegant MacBrayne’s ferries vital to the well-being of the Scottish islands, they had a regular timetable whatever the weather! In the summer hordes of day trippers would descend from them into Rothesay, it was quite a riotous time then! There were lovely gardens along the sea front but were never spoilt by holidaymakers. I have visited places on every continent except Antarctica but only Rothesay has a special place in my heart, I think I left a bit of it there! I think it should not be Rothesay Isle of Bute but Rothesay Isle of Beauty! Viva la Rothesay, Viva la PAVILION! Amen"
Alwyn Parker, September 2017