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The country returned a Labour Government, and on introducing important legislation, offered us the welfare state and a health service which was then the envy of the world, and legislation which embraced the work of local authorities. It was with this background that Renfrew found itself in 1954 with a Labour controlled council.
The Labour councillors held their majority down through the years except for a brief period of two years, and the dissolution in 1975 ended 600 years of history. It is interesting to note that the first Provost to be appointed was in 1699 and from 1954, every Provost, Magistrate, and Councillor was a working class man, with the exception of one instance when a local doctor served for a few years.
So the town council embarked on a vigorous campaign of house building, already started between the two wars, and this of course developed other problems in the servicing of these housing schemes. William McMaster was the chairman of the Public Health and Cleansing Committee for a number of years, and helped to establish a depot in Ferry Road, which offered the workmen more modern facilities, a new incinerator was built and Renfrew declared a smokeless zone, yet many other problems occurred as the town developed.
The Town Council worked closely with the County Council, whose powers were different but still connected with ours, and provided a Fire Station and a new Library and Health Centre. So therefore the projects started between the wars were developed and new techniques introduced, sub standard living became a thing of the past, and the appearance of Renfrew greatly changed from the time of William McMasters childhood.
Renfrew is a nice town to live in, and possibly the people at times seem to adopt a parochial outlook, but since Renfrew District Council at this time administers our affairs there are fears that change will not be met with approval. It is recorded that a prominent member of the community once asked “Give us our Town back” therefore If someone were to ask, what sort of facilities has Renfrew to offer? I would have to list it thus.
Several licensed hotels and social clubs, a Bingo Hall and numerous public houses, sporting facilities include the King George the Fifth playing fields, first class Swimming Baths, both public and private Bowling Greens, a Golf Course and Tennis Courts. Situated in the Robertson Park there is a Pets Corner, a Swing Park, a Boating Pond and a Cycling Area for children, there is also a Community Centre within the Park (Now aptly named the William McMaster Centre) which provides sequence dancing, bingo and concerts for the senior citizens of the Town. There are two others situated in different areas and a fourth to be provided. The Parish Church is a listed building of historic interest, and there are several other Churches of different religions.
The modern schools provide cultural and sporting facilities (Which I will expand upon later) and the towns Brass Band which was in existence when I was a child has an excellent reputation. It might be wondered why I relate these facts, but I do so to emphasise the tremendous change that has taken place so far as I am concerned, in the past seventy years.
When one considers that Renfrew in these days was a small quite town, keeping to some extent the market place atmosphere of still longer years ago, and depending to some extent on two small shipyards(now defunct) and Babcock and Wilcox (slowly declining) the out come Is remarkable. So before I (William McMaster) conclude my contribution to this tale I would like to offer some historical facts from my Town Council Diary. Renfrew’s history dates from Roman times, and the Burgh itself is thought to have been built by David 1st who became king of Scotland in 1124, it is one of the oldest Burgh’s in Scotland and is proud of being the cradle of the Royal Stewarts.
Great Stewart of Scotland is one of the titles of the Prince of Wales, who is also the Baron of Renfrew. The first charter was granted by Robert the Bruce in 1313, and Renfrew was created a Royal Burgh by King Robert the Third in 1396. Subsequent charters were granted by King James IV and by Queen Ann, who in 1703 gave the Burgh the salmon fishing rights to a considerable extent of the River Clyde. Under these Royal charters, Renfrew enjoyed extensive privileges, grants, and feu duties, most of which are still held by the town council today. Renfrew Castle, now no longer standing, was the residence of Walter Fitzalan, the first Stewart, who was appointed the High Steward of Scotland in 1157 by Malcolm IV. King Robert the Second was born there in 1370, after his mother Marjory, daughter of Robert the Bruce had been thrown from her horse and fatally injured whilst hunting near Knockhlll. In the fourteenth century Renfrew was a flourishing and wealthy Burgh, and at the beginning of the seventeenth century was the principle port on the Clyde, although gradually being overshadowed by the growing importance of Glasgow.