A new flag of Renfrewshire


Renfrewshire, in common with other Scottish counties, has long had a flag of its own (covered previously), a banner of its coat of arms. The enduring problem remains that these are registered armorial bearings, protected by law and property of the individual or body corporate to which they are granted. This is enforced in Scotland by the delightfully feudal Lyon Court, given wide powers by 17th century legislation to curb misuse.

In England particularly, new county flags - that can be flown by anyone - have taken off and gained widespread acceptance. Some are historic - the flag of Cornwall has been in use since the 19th century - but most are recent, drawing on traditional designs and motifs. The flag of neighbouring Devon, adopted by the county council in 2006, has been particularly successful.
In Scotland, there has been less enthusiasm, at least on the mainland. Several island communities have adopted their own including Shetland (1969, officially adopted 2005), Orkney (adopted 2007) and a smattering around the Hebrides. There is however some real momentum around a few: enthusiasts have sought to have a flag of Berwickshire flown at the Scottish-English border, where the flag of Northumbria flies alongside that of England and the UK on the opposite side. The local area forum has formally requested this be taken forward, but as a trunk road the final decision lies with the Scottish Government's Transport Scotland agency, and local consultation was promised in Spring 2016 .

Some local authorities have also made more use of their official flags, particularly Angus (covered here), Dundee and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (the Western Isles council). Some others use banners for limited ceremonial use, such as in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. These of course remain restricted by law - and a private citizen using them could in theory find themselves in the clink as a consequence.

Renfrewshire Council does not fly any local flag officially, nor do the other Renfrewshire authorities (East Renfrewshire and Inverclyde). Barring any information to the contrary, the Renfrewshire county flag does not seem to exist.

Step forward a few proposals. The first, at the top of the page, a proposal from Brady Ellis. It combines two traditional designs from Renfrewshire heraldry: the arms of the Royal House of Stewart, originating in Renfrew, and a ship in sail, noting the nautical heritage of the county on the Firth of Clyde. There's also a clear link with the St Andrew's Cross of Scotland.

A second proposed design comes from Philip Tibbetts, who has created several designs with the Association of British Counties.


Again, the basis is the Stewart colours and the ship. Both are in bold colours, fairly simple designs and in my view quite attractive.

There is a very real possibility however of new flags, if taken to heart by their communities, becoming significant symbols of the Scottish cities and counties. I suppose an alternative would be to legislate to allow local councils' existing symbols to be more widely used, but I suspect that would have the heraldic purists up in arms.

... and you have my word that is the last heraldry based pun that I will publish.

Update

To cerebrate the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, a display was arranged in Parliament Square in London, with schools from the historic counties across the UK invited by the UK Parliament to design a flag for their area. 

The school pupils were invited to include in the designs issues of importance to them, with some commentary on issues like bullying. Renfrewshire's design, from Gallowhill Primary School in Paisley, can be seen below. The Paisley pattern is significant in the design, as are the dots representing other schools in the area. 


A bit of fun, but quite a display they made in the centre of Westminster. 



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Previous Articles

Renfrewshire flags - A look back at the proper flags of the ancient county of Renfrewshire.

The Scottish Parliament - Possibly the most controversial structure in 21st century Scotland. A missed opportunity, a tragedy destined to happen or just an underrated work?

A Toast to Glasgow - Some views of Scotland's largest city and northern Britain's great Victorian metropolis.

A Defence of Propaganda - War-time optimism, reclaiming terminology and a nod to the fine work of Abram Games OBE.

St Andrew's House - Art deco at the political heart of Edinburgh.

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