Tales Of Kirrie Toon
THE LOOKING BEHIND OUR DOORS PROJECT
THE LOOKING BEHIND OUR DOORS PROJECT
We published three new booklets - about the Kirrie weavers, about other Kirrie People, and about the streets of the town.
Enquire at Kirrie Connections.
ASSESSING WHAT WE HAVE DONE
We asked Donald Smith of Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland to evaluate what Tthe project has achieved.
He was very kind.
‘Looking Behind Our Doors’ has opened up a geyser of local memories, traditions and community heritage. Moreover it has shared these riches through live events, leaflets and websites. In this way it has not only revealed what lies behind the surface of one of Scotland’s most interesting small towns, but had provided a foundation for future development and learning.
'Just listing topics seems a poor way to represent the range and diversity, but: horse and cattle fairs, food co-operatives, weavers and mills, the tooth factory, the christmas cracker factory, travelling players, early historians, local rhymes, the town drummer, the mole catcher, the Star Rock Sweetie shop and much much more.
'Two entertaining booklets have been produced – ‘Who Worked Where in Kirrie’ and ‘The Weavers of Kirrie’, and there are two websites featuring language and stories. This project has delivered so much for so many with modest but invaluable resources. LBOD will be a milestone in our understanding and celebration of Kirriemuir.'
Then we asked professionals who have been working on the project to say what they thought.
GRAHAM GALLOWAY, MANAGER, KIRRIE CONNECTIONS - ‘Looking Behind our Doors has been a fascinating project for Kirrie Connections to be involved with. Our members who are living with dementia have a wealth of knowledge about the town, and it has been great to see them actively involved in something that has really brought history to life.’
ANDY SHANKS, SONGWRITER - ‘ The stories that seem to lurk and dance behind every door and close in Kirriemuir are a songwriters treasure chest; weavers, shopkeepers, witches, poets and town drummer with a huge voice and a liking for a dram all larger than life.
I have a pile of songs and a book full of half cooked songs that are shouting to be written about the Weavers and the trains and much more , It’s been wonderful.
LOUISE KERR, PHOTOGRAPHER AND SOCIAL MEDIA ORGANISER
‘This has been a great project to be part of. To engage with the local community, capturing photographs and information about their town's history and memories, whilst sharing this with a wider audience.’
Elizabeth Crossley-Davies, current owner of the Star Rock Shop, told Louise, ‘I love how you managed to capture the essence of a proud owner that transcends the 60 odd years in between. It is a wonderful photo and I hope it's around in 50 years time too.’
Welcome to the LBOD project.
Our site combines and celebrates the work of several people who have shared their memories or searched out aspects of the history of Kirriemuir, the people who have worked here and where they worked.
We tell about the horse and cattle fairs on Kirrie Hill, the untold story of Kirrie's remarkably early part in the story of food co-operatives, who worked on their own or had businesses in the Roods, Bank Street and High Street from 1846 to date. Not just the handloom weavers and shoemakers and the mills, but a tooth factory and a Xmas cracker factory,
Among the individuals we have been pleased to learn about are the comedians who visited in 1841, prolific author Alan Reid who wrote the key book The Regality Of Kirriemuir and also recalled and preserved surprising old local rhymes, Tam Barnet who was the town's exuberant drummer and crier, Master weaver David Sands who on his loom wove shirts complete with ruffling and buttonholes. And the names of the tinsmith, the mole catcher and the dung cart operative, and the cheating grocers of 1862.
The Looking Behind Our Doors project started in 2018, in response to the work of the Kirriemuir Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) 2013-2018. The CARS project provided ' grant funding for the external repair and restoration of the historic building fabric within the town', in order to 'improve the historic character of buildings within the Conservation Area boundary'.
Kirrie resident Christine Kydd argued that there should also be an investigation and sharing of information about the people who had worked in those buildings, but it could not be included in the final roundup of CARS work.
So Christine and Ewan McVicar worked together to develop a project, hosted by Kirrie Connections, the Dementia Friendly Kirriemuir Project, based in the Hub on Bank Street.
The LBOD project has two elements. The first, the old and new Rhymes of Kirrie, was suggested by the work a hundred years ago of local writer Alan Reid. He and his wife Elizabeth had contributed their memories of old rhymes of Kirrie, Forfar and district, to be published by the Edinburgh-based Rymour Club. More recent memories of rhymes were gathered from Kirrie people, and also new rhymes about the town were composed with pupils in Kirrie’s two primary schools. See www.kirriewords.webs.com for details of this work.
The second element of the project was to be a mapping investigation of the older and more recent trades of the town, by whom they were carried out and in what buildings.
Ewan and Christine's initial action aim was to find and train interested volunteers, but in fact open sessions in Kirrie Library resulted in the involvement of local people who were already deeply versed in Kirrie’s history, and generous in sharing the fruits of their individual labour.
Key contributors included:
David Orr, local historian and writer, author of Kirriemuir, Its Streets & Place Names, who shared research material and knowledge, including the tale of town drummer and crier Tam Burnett, David's listings of local businesses in 1891 and 1955, and much more;
Alice S, ace at uncovering obscure information from local newspapers and census data. E.g. about the visiting 1841 troupe of comedians, the cheating grocers of 1862, and the Tooth Factory;
and Sandra Affleck, who allowed us to make use of her 1984 detailed Street –By-Street notes on Kirrie businesses, especially shops, between 1885 and 1900.
Others who have shared memories and local knowledge include Bill Boyle, Maureen Crosbie, Margaret & Bob Inglis, Mary McIntosh, Irene Robertson, Kathy Totten, and residents of homes.
Crucial to the success of the project has been the work of Louise Kerr of Hamilton Kerr Photography. Louise took on sharing news of the project’s work on social media, and photographing aspects of the developing work;
and the support of Graham Galloway, the users and staff of Kirrie Connections, Geraint Davies and staff of Kirrie Library, the staff of the Gateway To The Glens Museum, and the staff of Northmuir and Southmuir Primary schools.