Article Index



           PART ONE

       Rare is the lot and unique is the record of the man who whilst
immersed for the greater portion of his life in commercial undertakings and public
life, is able to devote forty years of voluntary service as organist to the
church with which he has always been connected.

       Mr. William M'GOWAN, J. P., Whitehaven, is that musical celebrity, and
on Monday night there was a large gathering of the members of the Whitehaven
Congregational Church and friends in the schoolroom, to do him honour, and to
show by substantial tokens their great appreciation of the remarkable work he
has given as an accomplished musician to the church.

       The presentation consisted of a very handsome 24 in. solid silver
coffee tray, with handles, beautifully hand engraved festoon border, and in the
centre was the following inscription:

                     Presented to
           William M'Gowan, J. P.,
     in acknowledgment of his services as
Honorary Organist of the Whitehaven Congregational
         during a period of forty years.
      From past and present members
      of the Church and Congregation
                  January, 1889

       There was also a massive solid silver coffee pot or tea and coffee
service, engraved with festoons to match the coffee tray. The articles were
supplied by Mr. SPITTALL.

       The platform was beautifully decorated for the occasion with ferns and
exotic plants, the audience was seated in circular fashion round the space
set apart for the table which contained the articles of  presentation, the
effect, with brilliant lighting of the room, being most cheerful and agreeable to
the eye. The ladies who were responsible for the beautification were:

the Misses. DAVIS (3)





       The chair was occupied by the Rev. A. O. LOCHORE, pastor who was
supported on the platform by Mr. John PEARSON, jun.

       The interesting proceedings were opened by the singing of the hymn,
"He liveth long who liveth well," followed by prayer offered by Mr. William
LONGMIRE. The quartette, "Brightly dawns our Wedding Day" (SULLIVAN), artistically
rendered by the Misses JACKSON and Messrs. JOHNSON and STOUT, was greatly
appreciated and applauded. Mrs. MASON next sang with expression "Castles in the
Air." Mr. WILSON gave "The Diver" with spirit and excellent finish. Miss.
JACKSON rendered "The Auld Plaid Shawl."

       At the request of the Pastor, Mr. John PEARSON, jun., who was greeted
with applause on rising, made the presentation as follows:

       "Before proceeding to the business which has brought us together
to-night I wish to explain that the committee are sorry that neither my father, who
is the oldest member of the church, nor Captain NELSON were available for
making this presentation, and so fell back on myself, whose attendance, extending
considerably over 50 years, covers the whole of the period during which we
have had the benefit of Mr. M'GOWAN's services. During my earlier years the
service of song in the old Providence Chapel now the Salvation Hall, was under the
superintendence of  old Mr. James GIBBONS, assisted by a choir seated in the
singing pew just under the old pulpit, and backed by some instrumental music,
proceeding chiefly from James CRAINE's bass fiddle. But James GIBBON's vocal
powers were being undermined by age, and James CRAINE went to Australia and the
singing suffered.

       It so became evident to the then members of the church that an organ
would afford very desirable aid to the singing, and they therefore set about
looking for one. But not as Father CANAVAN did when he wanted to help Father
MATTHEW's services at Cork, and procured a barrel organ, which after pealing out
the Adeste and Sicilian Mariners, to the horror and consternation of the
reverand Fathers, after the reading of the 3rd Gospel, began to roll out "Moll of
the Wad."

       Our people held a bazaar in 1857, and raised funds to procure the
organ which, after serving us some 25 years, is now doing it's best for the
Congregationalists at Cockermouth. Up to this time Mr. M'GOWAN had paid little or no
attention to music, and for some time the organ was played by  the late



Miss. Hannah KITHIN (now Mrs. Dr. BOWES)

Miss Agnes KITCHIN

Mrs. J. S. M'GOWAN

the late Mr. Tom KITCHIN

Miss. MILES (now Mrs. H. KITCHIN)

Miss. WOOF, who is still with us as Mrs. John KITCHIN and has so recently
been showing her willingness to serve the church. There have been others more
recently such as Mr. James NELSON (whom we will all be glad to see restored to
health and strength by his stay abroad,) whose names it is necessary for me to
mention since their services are within the knowledge of you all. These were
more or less occasional players, but in 1859, Mr. M'GOWAN took permanent charge
of the instrument which in 1882 after 25 years use, was replaced by the
present one through the liberty of the late Mr. George JACKSON. That itself again is
17 years ago, yet we have Mr. M'GOWAN with his heart in the work as much as
ever. Now 40 years to use the expression of a leading politician, is a big
chunk out of a man's lifetime. And there is one particular feature of his tenure

       Musical people - out of Whitehaven - have the reputation of being
petted, but evidently we manage things better here, for during the whole of his
long period there has been an utter absence of friction between the minister and
organist or the organist and choir. In many congregations this long service,
which almost constitutes a record, would probably have been the occasion of a
series of testimonials, say every ten years, but we Congregationalists are not
fond of testimonials, preferring to look upon church work as done rather for
the Master than for each other.

       Still, when Mr. M'GOWAN, about at the end of 1866, brought home a
helpmeet from Scotland, the silver tea service which is before us to-night was
given to  him in acknowledgment of his continuous attention to the organ so far.
But since then an average lifetime has passed, and whilst everyone has been
feeling that a further acknowledgement ought to be made for what he has done
since then, no one felt it their particular duty to set the ball rolling until a
short time ago, when, as you are all aware a committee was appointed to take
the business in hand with the result of over 
£60 having been given. The committee consider they have set a valuable

       Every contribution, so far as they could secure it represent the
contributor's genuine appreciation of Mr. M'GOWAN's services. There has been no
canvassing, no importunity. There has been no inducement for anyone to give for
fear or favour. There is no list of subscribers. No one knows what anyone else
has given, and the articles are the gift of the congregation, not of
individual subscribers.

       Well, we are here to-night to do honour to Mr. M'GOWAN, not as a
citizen, or as a prominent temperance man, or a Guardian of the Poor, or as a
County Councillor, or as a magistrate, or as a Deacon, or as a special benefactor
of our church, or even, which I place last.....