One of the oldest festivals in Europe – Govan Fair – is consulting on ways to revive the ancient gathering which goes back to at least 1756. In the spirit of these ‘together in the UK’ times, they were given great insights from the creator of Totally Thames – a festival which involves businesses along the length of that great river.
It is local people in Govan who are asking. They’ve found inspiration in places like Gdansk where history bus tours are led by local people who’ve lived the history. They’ve inspired research to uncover fairs of past times and how they were run. Unfortunately they’ve not been able to uncover the tarmac on a car park which conceals Doomster Hill, an ancient site where justice was once dispensed by the Kings of Strathclyde and where people gathered for important occasions.
The ship building history of Govan honed by skilled men who crafted vessels of every type - remains hidden. Unless you visit the fascinating exhibitions within the recently refurbished and now commercially used, beautifully appointed space of Fairfield Offices on Govan Road opposite Elder Park. There, of an afternoon, a person can view details of shipyards and people, see giant spanners and the works they sometimes tumbled into.
This quiet but highly professional presentation of local history puts the Riverside Museum to shame for it does not project a fraction of the information the Fairfield offers.
So maybe Govan Fair folk and local people will devise something that pleases them and which will enhance their Fair celebrations for generations to come. By consulting with Big Brother Thames, they’re off to a good start. If they can deliver in the way the Fairfield Exhibition of shipbuilding does, then the future of the event is secure.
The public are being given a one-off opportunity to experience all the fun of the fair from the showman’s side in a special event at the Riverside Museum from Friday 6 to Sunday 8 December. This unique occasion will let people try their hand at running a stall, learn how rides are packed and transported across Scotland and take a peek inside the vintage and modern wagons in which the travelling showpeople live.
For three days there will be a free traditional family funfair outside Glasgow’s Riverside, which was designated European Museum of the Year for 2013. Situated in the Event Square will be a Steam Traction Engine, a traditional carousel and the popular flying Chair-O-Planes, as well as traditional games and food stalls.
The event, the culmination of a Fablevision project called Fair Glasgow which has been funded by the Heritage Lottery, is the first of its kind and aims to promote a better understanding of travelling showpeople in Scotland. It compliments some outstanding displays currently on view inside Riverside Museum, including the showman’s wagon donated by the Carter family.
Throughout the event the public will be encouraged to follow a trail to the museum’s education space, where they can take in fairground art demonstrations, information films and view some very rare and beautiful objects from fairs gone by. Key individuals from Glasgow show families will also be available to answer questions and give the inside story on the life of a showman.
Manager of Riverside Museum, Lawrence Fitzgerald, said: ‘Glasgow is an incredibly vibrant city thanks to the wonderful mix of different communities. The community of travelling showpeople has added a great deal to our history and this is a rare opportunity to experience, firsthand, just a little of their way of life. The combination of fun fairground rides and beautiful objects outside and interesting and unusual exhibits inside are sure to make the event a knock-out for families this weekend.’
Melvin Thomas from the showpeople’s community in Glasgow added: ‘We are delighted to work with the Riverside Museum to bring all the fun of the fair to the people of Glasgow this weekend. We are keen to share our proud heritage with as many people as possible and invite them to join in some of the wonderful experiences we enjoy as showpeople.’
The event is free and the funfair rides are also free. It is open from 11am to 5pm on Friday 6 and Sunday 8 December and from 10am to 6pm on Saturday 7 December. For more information please see www.fairglasgow.com
Govan is in danger of losing one of its oldest communities. Show families who have lived in the area for generations fear they are being pushed out to make way for developers despite legislation which should enable them to buy their land. Show people bring shows to fairs and events around the country and have been doing so for hundreds of years.
At a meeting called to promote – Behind the Scenes at the Fair ! a three day family fun event at Glasgow’s Riverside Museum on 6,7 and 8 December highlighting the culture and heritage of Show people – some very serious concerns of Govan Show people surfaced.
Said Sheldon Johnstone who lives with ten, related, family groups in one of only two Showmen’s yards in Govan: ‘My father was born in Govan. I’ve lived here for 30 years and am on the Scottish Guild of Showmen. But we are only allowed to stay here on a monthly lease. Originally it was a six month lease. We want to be here permanently but we all worry that we’ll be put off this land and have to go and find somewhere else to live.’
Jimmy Stringfellow, who has the other Showman’s yard in Govan, told the meeting of around 30 people: ‘We have no security. I’ve been served with eight eviction notices and have had 50 visits from the police in the past three months. The CID has visited me 18 times, and the Council’s case against me was thrown out of court. I’m having a hell of a time living here in Govan. But I’m not leaving. I intend to die here!’
The meeting was held in Govan Old Parish Church which is recognised as the church for all Show families in Scotland.
‘I was married here on 24 November 1964,’ said Christine Stirling whose maiden name was Colquhoun. ‘It was a double wedding with my husband’s brother. My daughter Cindy was married here in February 1994. All my four grandchildren were christened here and the funerals of two babies who died also took place here. This is a special place for me and my family and for all Show people in Scotland.’
Six beautiful stained glass windows were installed and dedicated in the Church in 1991 to ‘show the devotion’ of the Show families.
But in the church’s meeting space near the ancient sarcophagus stones dating back to around the 9th century, today’s art works were the intended matter of discussion.
Tara S. Beall, Artist in Residence at Glasgow’s Riverside Museum promoted the culmination of months of research done in conjunction with Scotland’s Show families. This is part of her PhD work. ‘On Friday 6, Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 December at the Riverside Museum we’ll have three days to enjoy a traditional fun fair,’ she said. ‘Attractions include a steam traction engine, a carousel, chair-o-planes, swing boats, game stalls and food stalls.’ Enthusiastically she added: ‘Visitors can learn how rides are packed and transported around Scotland, how they work and even try setting up a showground game.’ She said: ‘The Riverside is a transport museum and the Show people who have contributed to this, know how to transport, pack, fix and engineer all the equipment you see in a fun fair. They’re the experts and this three day event will help spread that knowledge as people can ask any of the experts about the fairground equipment. It will be family fun too.’
A key speaker at the meeting in the Church, was Professor Mairead Nic Craith, Chair of European Culture and Heritage at Heriot Watt University. She explained the differences in language between heritage in old Irish Gaelic – from the soil, the roots, values, traditions, principles, sense of values and the new Gaelic form – legal rights, what one is entitled to.
‘These differences are obvious in Gaelic but not in English,’ she said. Further differences in meaning were explored in English speaking cultures where heritage generally applies to something tangible – ‘like a castle,’ said the Professor. ‘In some Asian cultures it can refer to the skills required and handed on to create – and re-create – a place.’
This led to the observation that tangible cultural heritage could be recognised more easily and so World Heritage sites were protected. But intangible cultural heritage was more difficult to codify. While music might be intangible, it would have the tangible element of the instruments used to make the music. Social practices, festivals, fairs and events were intangible and craftsmanship such as that used to make Arbroath smokies would also be intangible.
She noted that the United Kingdom Government has not signed the UN Charter to protect cultural heritage which would go some way to protecting intangible elements important to Show people. The Scottish Government was in favour of signing it but cultural heritage is not a devolved issue so it cannot do so.
Alex James Colquhoun, Chairman of the Showmen’s Guild, Scottish Section, outlined the difficulties the Guild has encountered in having the work and heritage of its members recognised.
‘The Guild will be 125 years old next year. It promotes education and lobbies for our way of life, our heritage. At a meeting in Brussels sit was made clear we can’t be a part of European cultural heritage schemes or protection because the UK has not signed up to it.
‘We are not looking for money. We are only looking for the recognition we think we deserve for our intangible culture and heritage.’
One of the reasons the UK government has not signed the UN Charter is because heritage is used as a political football, suggested Dr Alan Leslie, of Northlight Heritage, a Glasgow based archaeological Trust for Excavation and Research.
He suggested ways to tie-in the intangible with the tangible. ‘Culture needs weight and force to tie-in with other things around,’ he said.
An example of a Fair that has been held in Kirkcaldy for 700 years was used. Alex James Colquhoun said it was in danger of stopping because of official objections. ‘Establish whether it is an issue about the location or the Fair itself,’ advised Dr Leslie who instanced other cultural entities which lost out to commercial development.
In Europe a similar ancient Fair was revitalised through the UN Charter and the European approach because it received status, out of which came sponsorship.
The Govan event was orchestrated by Liz Gardiner of Fablevision. She is one of the people behind a gathering momentum in culturally sensitive and place-based regeneration. She said: ‘Behind the Scenes at the Fair! is an amazing project. It is important to Glasgow and Scotland. And interestingly, by holding this meeting in this church and by the involvement of Govan Show people and young film makers at Fablevision, and the commitment of Chris Jamieson of Glasgow Life Open Museums, all roads lead to an important intangible project.’
An old shipping tradition was carried out on Wednesday 23 October 2013 at Glasgow’s Riverside Museum. A model of a Scottish built boat was gifted to the Museum’s famous ship model collection.
Martin Dorchester, Managing Director of Caledonian MacBrayne with the present Skipper, Matt Ashwood, handed over the company’s model of Loch Shira, the CalMac Largs/Cumbrae ferry. In receiving the minature vessel, Councillor Archie Graham, Chair of Glasgow Life, explained that only 160 of the museum’s collection of 800 model boats are on display. He expressed delight that CalMac had donated the Loch Shira model. ‘This is the first model of a 21st century, Clydebuilt ship we’ve received. The Loch Shira is still in service and it is good to have the skipper here.’
Later he said that there was no plan to extend the Riverside to incorporate a dedicated museum for the present model collection. ‘We have a challenge to manage the displays so that the rotation allows them to be seen over time.’ He pointed out that since opening in 2011, the Riverside has had 2.5 million visitors. ‘We hope to put the Loch Shira model on display in an upcoming Travelling on the River Clyde feature,’ he said.
Martin Dorchester, Managing Director of CalMac said it was a great ‘fit’ that the model should be kept by the Riverside Museum. ‘Caledonian MacBrayne is proud of its Scottish heritage. I believe our ships’ Masters are the best seafarers in the world. The waters of the West Coast of Scotland are dangerous as well as beautiful. It is important that people like Matt deliver passengers on our vessels, safely, every day.’ He urged everyone attending a Scottish Maritime History Seminar where the hand-over of the model took place, to get ‘re-acquainted’ with the Scottish West Coast waters. ‘Our guys give a fabulous service, delivering safely, with a great depth of experience. ‘
The Loch Shira ferry was built by Ferguson Shipbuilders of Port Glasgow in 2006 and entered service in 2007.
Thursday 7 March 2013
Winning photographs of Glasgow were unveiled at Glasgow Airport this week.
The twenty amateur photographers took up a challenge from Glasgow Doors Open Day last year to produce images of the city’s landmark buildings. The competition winners were: 1st – Surjit Paul for his ‘Geometric Impression’ of the Riverside Museum. 2Nd – Bobby Borland’s ‘Take a Seat’ at Glasgow University. 3Rd – Chris Bonnington for an interior shot of Glasgow City Chambers. 4Th – Bill Crookston for an ‘Unusual view of the front of the Sir Norman Foster & Partners’ Clyde Auditorium.’ Some of them are pictured at the unveiling (above) at Glasgow Airport.
Run in conjunction with the Creative Mackintosh Festival, the competition attracted 150 entries from members of the public. The final 20 photographs will now highlight Glasgow for visitors arriving at the airport.
Said Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of Glasgow City Marketing Bureau: ‘These wonderful images capture the breadth and wonder of our city’s architecture. They offer a fitting welcome to Scotland’s most stylish city and greatly complement the friendly welcome, for which we are world-renowned. When visitors step off the plane and witness this photography display, they will instantly know they have arrived somewhere special.’
Steven Marshall, Marketing Manager at Glasgow Airport said: ‘We are very pleased to have such high quality images showcasing the city’s leading attractions to welcome international visitors and those returning home.’
Glasgow Building Preservation Trust, which runs Doors Open Day and Glasgow Mackintosh Group which promotes the work of architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh will continue to collaborate to promote the city. Glasgow’s Doors Open Day will take place on 21 and 22 September this year.
All the photographs can be seen on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.294938167278305.56740.238112722960850&type=3
Friday 22 February 2013
There was no real score kept of the football match today between students from Hollybrook Academy in Glasgow and counterparts from Maerkisches Berufskolleg in Unna, Germany.
But the friendly game – possibly 8 -8 – played at Toryglen indoor football centre, was great fun. It was followed by a visit to
Hampden Football Museum.
Said Mary Farrell Head Teacher of Hollybrook in Govanhill: ‘We have a jam-packed itinerary planned for our visitors, including trips to the Riverside Museum, Anniesland College, Xscape and orienteering in Mugdock Park.’
Some of the local students – aged up to 18 – and the German visitors – aged up to 23 – plan to hire kilts for their final fling – a ceilidh at the end of the two week visit. Said DJ NotNot alias Declan McNaughton (16): ‘We’ve sorted out the music for the night. There will be chart stuff, ceilidh music and music the German visitors want.’ Added DJ Barbie alias Stephen McLauchlan (17): ”All the equipment is organised as well as the lighting and the food.’
The two schools for young people with additional support needs, have been in touch through an initiative funded by the British Council supporting a bilingual Comenius Project.
Said Hollybrook teacher Silke Bryce, who is German and taught English before coming to live and work in Scotland: ‘This is a two year sports and leisure project. It allows an exchange of teachers and students and stimulates them to learn about each other’s country, culture, life style and language.’
The Glasgow students aim to travel to Germany next year but they haven’t worked out yet what they can do about kilts…
The body of a woman was taken from the River Clyde near Napier Drive, Govan around 8.45am on Saturday 1 December 2012. Emergency services attended, but the woman was pronounced dead at the scene which is across from the Riverside Museum. Strathclyde Police say a post mortem will be carried out to establish the exact cause of death. Till then, the death is treated as ‘unexplained.’
The Princess Royal popped in to the Riverside Museum to open it formally. She was almost the 1 millionth visitor. In less than six months since the public started streaming into the iconic building, more than 900,000 people have entered. There is no doubt it is popular.
On similar floor space to the old Transport Museum, there are more than double the number of items on display. Some of the interactive games were designed by school children who also serve on a Junior Board. There is no doubt there is a lot to see and do.
But transport to get to and from the place is difficult.
Try walking from the city centre. Choose the picturesque river walkway. It is blocked at several points necessitating the walker to move out to the main road. Then, once off the walkway and past the heliport at the former pump house where the Tall Ship was moored for a long time, the person on foot walks on earth, finds derelict land fenced off to the left and rough embankment leading up to the road on the right. And along the entire route there is only one make-shift sign.
Alternatively, take the river crossing from Govan. Well you can’t now. It has closed for the winter. And there must be a question mark over the cost of such a large vessel being used to cross the few metres from one bank of the river to the other. A small open boat with an outboard engine would do the job in a more sustainable fashion.
Let’s get the connections improved before the 1 million mark. Then everyone can be equally proud of this gem of a place.
The Princess Royal delighted more than 150 special guests at Glasgow’s new £74 million Riverside Museum when she formally opened it today. (Friday 11 November 2011)
Pupils of St Constantine’s Primary School in Govan who are on the Junior Board at the Museum and who had designed one of the interactive games which are proving so popular, had a ringside view as the Royal party left. Said Luis McCann who with Claire Wasige, is current champion at their game: ‘The best thing about today was the Princess.’
That was echoed by Councillor George Redmond, Chair of Glasgow Life, who escorted the Royal visitor through many of the exhibits: ‘In four and a half months we’ve had 945,000 visitors here, which is quite remarkable. Everyone who had played a part in this has looked forward to this day.’
Lord Provost Bob Winter as Lord Lieutenant who stands in for the Queen on occasions in Glasgow added his thanks to everyone ‘behind the scenes,’ in particular. ‘The design, building and operation of the Riverside Museum is wonderful. The project was delivered on time and within budget. The sheer dedication of the entire team is remarkable and everyone should be rightly proud of the treasure trove we possess.’
The Princess Royal, too, was clearly enthusiastic about the Museum. After unveiling a plaque to commemorate her visit, she said:’It has been a pleasure to see this place that has had rave reviews. The praise is entirely appropriate.’
On congratulating everyone concerned she added: ‘Long may the visitors continue.’
The Princess Royal also went aboard the Tall Ship Glenlee, one of only five Clyde built sailing ships of that kind afloat in the world. Moored in front of the Museum, it has recently undergone a £1.5m refurbishment. Said Dr Christopher Mason, who heads the Trust which runs the Tall Ship: ‘It is always good to get royal recognition for staff and volunteers – it is a great boost to everyone’s morale. The Princess took great interest in our work and we hope she will come again.’
Detailed plans to improve the river bank at Lancefield Quay and Anderston Quay have been drafted in preparation for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Consultation with elected members is underway although most community councils will not meet between now and the Friday 29 July deadline.
‘I have asked for the times to be extended to take this into account,’ said Bailie Nina Baker of Anderston Ward.
According to George Gillespie, Assistant Director of Land and Environmental Services, the aim of the plan is to improve, significantly, pedestrian and cyclist provision. ‘We also wish to incorporate permanent flood prevention measures between the Kingston Bridge and Clyde Arc bridge,’ he said.
This route will be a main spectator corridor between the city centre and venues at the SECC complex in 2014. It will also help access to Ibrox and Kelvingrove games venues and the Riverside Museum.
Following the comments of elected representatives, the plans will be revised and a one day “pre-planning” consultation event is anticipated in early August when City Council officers will explain the proposals in more detail to Councillors. This will be followed by the public at large and other interest groups having the chance to comment through the statutory planning process in September 2011 when the revised plan will be submitted. Currently a contractor is likely to be appointed in December 2011 and work should be carried out between January and June next year.
* If you have ideas to improve the Lancefield Quay or Anderston Quay embankments for pedestrians or cyclists send them to us at: email@example.com and we’ll publish them and pass them on.