The Yearly Comet Festival

The modern Comet Festival Group was formed in 1986. By this time Port Glasgow had no town council and the celebrations which normally took place every 25 years to celebrate the 1812 launch of the steamship Comet were in doubt for the 175th anniversary.
A group of local people who lived and worked in Port Glasgow were concerned about the decline of the local industries and were looking for ways of restoring some pride in the area in an effort to lift morale in the community.
At this stage the idea of putting on an event where the community could get involved and enjoy came about. Originally intended to be a one day event the group soon realised that when other people and organisations were contacted about the concept of a Festival the interest was so overwhelming it was decided that the Festival Committee should progress some of the ideas which had been received. It soon became apparent that the Festival was going to be bigger than a one day event, and therefore it should be held in 1987 to allow the group of volunteers committee members time to plan the various events.

The group is now supported by Inverclyde District council through grant funding and the use of town premises. Local businesses through sponsorship of an event and advertising in the festival programme. The local community help with donations and purchasing tickets for events and organised dances and nights out.

The whole event is rounded off each year with an open air (weather permitting) ecumenical service know as Port Praise which is organised by local churches.

The Comet Festival has it's own Face Bookpage.

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Part of the fun has always been a window dressing compititionfor the local shops. Hours must be spent on the internet printing off photos and looking for anything Port' related for the ocassion but I am not sure if the winners will get the trophies and plaques gifted as prizes unless someone gives them a clean some time soon.............The trophy was donated by Clyde Square Shopping Centre 1996 and one of the two plaues donated by Mr Ross Belch

Best dressed festival visitors!

Some photographs taken at the Comet Festival June 2010

This is how the organisers introduced the festival in 1987

The town of Port Glasgow was formerly known as "Newark" in years gone by, and in 1668, the magistrates of the city of Glasgow feued some land in the vicinity of Newark and established a harbour, the community that then built up around the harbour became known as the "New Port of Glasgow". In 1775, New Port of Glasgow and Newark were united for municipal purposes and from then on was to become known as "Port Glasgow". Under the 1832 Reform Act, Port Glasgow was to become a Parliamentary Burgh with full voting rights for its constituents. The "Port" today has undergone another major change in Local Government with the abolition of our Town Council, Port Glasgow being incorporated into the boundaries of the new "Inverclyde District Council". This change meant the biggest difference to our town's identity; it has removed the autonomous powers of decision making on Port Glasgow issues to a central base in Greenock. Port Glasgow having only four of Inverclyde's twenty councillors.

A Group of Residents in the town refused to allow recognition of their heritage to pass without acknowledgement and met to organise a Community Festival on Saturday 29th August, 1987 to commemorate the 175th Anniversary of the launch of the "Comet" in Port Glasgow in 1812, the Comet being the world's first successful steamship. A full size replica of the Comet is now on display in the car park across from the Port Glasgow Town Hall. The "Port" has a wonderful heritage in shipbuilding and in its shipbuilding skills that were started with the "Comet" and culminated in the recent launching of the oil rig "Ocean Alliance", to approximately the same site, under the huge "Goliath" crane in the Scott Lighgow "Glen" Shipyard. The town has changed with the times to meet modern needs in skill and new technology. Sadly, even with these skills, our town is being crippled by a world depression in shipbuilding and a decline in the oil market, these outside influences causing major problems with high unemployment.

In previous years the Comet Celebrations were organised on a 25 year cycle by our Port Glasgow Town Council, the highlight of the 150th Anniversary in 1962 was the launch of the Replica which then carried dignitaries to "Helensburgh", then back to be greeted by a fantastic fireworks display at the Coronation Park at night. To this end, and with no Town Council to take on the organisation of this 175th Anniversary Celebration. A group of the Town's Residents who were proud of their Port Glasgow Heritage and identity felt that this tradition must be kept alive. So it was that a "Comet Festival Group" was constituted to organise the 1987 Celebrations. The group were initially guided by records of previous festivals, in particular the 1962 organisation of events, the Festival Group then added to the former celebrations and modernised some of the activities. However, this cannot detract from the amount of time and hard work given by a committed and totally voluntary body.

The Comet Festival has been supported by both Strathclyde Region and Inverclyde District Councils, plus other support agencies and local concerns such as, the Inverclyde Initiative, National Semiconductors, Lithgow Electronics, S.S.H., C.W.S., and through the Local Traders Association we have had direct funding and sponsorship of events from many of our local businesses. The main aim of this community initiative is to prevent a tradition being broken that is part of the town's heritage. There is another reason, to put Port Glasgow back on the map, through the Comet Festival we want to instil a new pride in our town then carry that new pride into Inverclyde, and the country as a whole, to attract as much interest as possible in the "Port's" needs in jobs and services, which for reasons mainly out of local control, have seen a great decline in the last few years. It has to Stop.

The Comet Festival Group 1987.

Those involved in those early years are listed below.

Tommy Rodger (Sec.)
Margaret Young
Ian McNeil (Chair.)
Jean Mclimoyle
Andy Stevenson (Treas.)
Rita Norris
Mrs. Warzyk : Pearl Simpson'
Duncan Lynch
Ellen Given
Rose Cullen
Maureen Vallis: Mary McNeil
Alf Downie:  Mary Fields
John McKenzie: Martin Thomas
Ginty Nugent: John Ferguson
Phylis Stevenson: Christine Scott
Nana Stewart: Mae Wilson

The Parade

Kingston Shipyard, 11.00a.m.

Route- A8 by the Plaza, Shore Street, by St

John's, Princes Street, John Wood

Street, Fore Street, out by traffic lights,

A8, Coronation Park
This page last modified on Monday, July 04, 2011