Scotland’s Urban Past (SUP), a joint initiative between the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) and Historic Scotland, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, is an innovative project that will put groups and individuals across Scotland’s towns and cities in charge of recording the history on their doorsteps.
The project – which was launched at the Vennie Youth Club in Livingston, one of three pilot projects involved in the scheme – is calling for groups and individuals of all ages to discover and share the fascinating stories of Scotland’s towns and cities.
Over the next five years, 60 community led projects will take place, equipping people with the skills to document and record Scotland’s ever evolving built environment. Every project idea will come from a local community, with the project providing bespoke training and access to resources with creative input from artists, musicians, writers, actors and digital designers.
The project will culminate in a national exhibition in 2019, showcasing the achievements of the projects whilst at the same time celebrating Scotland’s towns and cities.
Commenting on the project, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop said: “Scotland’s urban areas are full of incredible stories to be recorded and celebrated.
“Scotland’s Urban Past will give people of all ages the tools and inspiration they need to start recording and sharing the history of their local area. From buildings and streets to the story of an entire city, it will create a detailed and accessible history of our urban heritage by the people who live within it, which will be an incredibly rich asset for all of us.
“Taking place over the next five years, it will be a flagship project for the new lead body for the historic environment, Historic Environment Scotland (HES), which will come into effect in October with the coming together of Historic Scotland and RCAHMS. I’d urge communities across the country to get involved and be part of telling their own and Scotland’s wider urban story.”
The project was launched at the Vennie Youth Club in Livingston, part of the Knightsridge Adventure Project and one of three pilot projects that have taken place to date as part of the scheme.
The young people from the Vennie were given training by the SUP team to record the story of how they campaigned for and worked with West Lothian Council to design and deliver the Youth Club’s new skate park, and what this urban space means to them, through the medium of film. The other pilot projects were in Tain, which focussed on documenting the history of three buildings that represent the various phases of the town’s development whilst in Ayr a local community group have been working to record one of the town’s most visible structures, St. John’s Tower, following some anti-social behaviour in the surrounding area.
Tom Heron, Project Coordinator at the Vennie, said: “Making a film with Scotland’s Urban Past has allowed the skate boarders to take their pride in their skate park to the next level. They now have a vehicle for telling their story which people are very interested in hearing.
“The film tells the story of how our young people approached decision-makers and funders to design and create a new skate park, which will be part of the community for years to come.
“This project with SUP has given them a way to record their achievements and hopefully it will inspire more young people in Scotland to get involved with their local built environment.”
SUP is supported by a £1.65m Heritage Lottery Fund grant and will help communities in bringing their project ideas to fruition by providing training and access to resources.
Colin McLean, Head of HLF Scotland, said:
“People are at the very heart of everything we do and thanks to National Lottery players we can inspire communities across Scotland to dig into their past and find out more about the places they call home. This ambitious £1.65m five year nationwide project will offer people of all ages and backgrounds training and skills in recording memories and reveal just how the Scottish urban landscapes have changed over time. I am sure we have much to look forward to as this exciting project starts to take shape.”