I am always depressed when I read of another part of our rich heritage falling to pieces before the dreaded bulldozers move in to consign it to the dustbin of history. Thankfully there is another side to the story and it is a pleasure when a community comes together to save and restore the gifts we have inherited and pass them on to those who will occupy this place when we are gone.
A perfect example of this determination was on display last week in Grangemouth where the Friends of Zetland Park unveiled their imaginative proposals to develop the park and restore and enhance those things which help to tell the story of the town.
It is an impressive project which has won widespread support but a key challenge is to raise the local contribution of around £25,000. That was the purpose of last week’s meeting which brought together many groups including schools, churches, social, cultural and heritage associations and community council representatives.
One of the key heritage proposals is the restoration and illumination of the war memorial which is the most impressive of the 18 memorials in Falkirk district. Designed by Sir John Burnet the memorial is surmounted by a sculpted British lion devouring a German eagle carved by the Alexander Proudfoot.
When the design was unveiled in 1919 the imagery was controversial but it survived and today is a reminder of the way people saw things a century ago.
One of the most popular proposals is to restore the nearby fountain and bring it back into operation. Today it is a poor version of the elaborate structure which once graced the park from 1882. Early photographs show missing parts including the figure of a Greek style lady holding an urn above her head.
The Friends are trying to find even better images and are hoping somebody out there has something among their family snaps!
Grangemouth’s story goes back at least as far as the 13th century with the construction of the Grange, a set of farm buildings associated with the Abbots of Holyrood House who were the overlords of the great Barony of Abbotskerse. The cutting of the Great Canal after 1768 led to the creation of the village which expanded over 250 years into the massive community we have today.
The Friends have planned a ‘history wall’ with input from local children which will tell this story: abbots, estates, canals, steam navigation, shipping, timber and chemicals and the aerodrome, as a permanent record of Grangemouth’s contribution to the world.
And of course there is the famous clock which once graced the Town Hall in the old town. Fortunately it was saved from the demolishers and there is a chance to put the refurbished clock on display in a suitable setting. Another eyesore that has long annoyed the public is the abandoned paddling pool which the Friends intend to turn into a ‘naturalised’ wild life pond not far from the remaining foundations of the old Grange.
There is much more: a skatepark, a redesigned play park, tree planting, a pinetum and refurbished toilets.
Friends’ chairman Tom Brown and his energetic committee have done a great job and deserve all the support we can give them; already they already have promises of donations and many fundraising ideas, but more is needed. If you want to be part of this exciting community effort please get in touch through with the Friends website directly, or through their face book page or via Grangemouth Heritage Trust. Alternatively you can drop me an email and I’ll put you in touch. You will be making a great gift to the future.