Plans for the Future

 

1. The New Galloway Story – an exciting new project

LING is delighted to have secured grant funding from the Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership  for a heritage project that will develop The New Galloway Story concept further. Essentially the idea is to build on some of what has gone before, like The New Galloway Story Exhibition that was mounted in the Town Hall a number of times, and the Paintings and Photographs Exhibition, also in the Town Hall, which was much enjoyed last year.

We also want to tap into, and hopefully incorporate, projects which are currently in train, such as the Oral Histories project which is underway, with young people interviewing older residents about their early memories of life in New Galloway; and the Shops and Businesses Trail project which hopes to identify houses which used to be shops etc so local people and visitors will get a sense of how things used to be – not that long ago, actually!

It feels really good to be able to pull these things together under one umbrella. And there may well be other things that will evolve and find a natural home within this development. Some of the history of the Garroch Estate, for example, and the walled garden there.

It’s essentially a ‘heritage’ project, so the intention is to try to capture and value aspects of what has been inherited from the past lives and experiences of those who went before. It’s about people as well as places, and is about how history lives on in the present day.

The project will involve developing three outdoor display boards with a specially designed map of New Galloway indicating places of interest and telling some of the history of New Galloway as the smallest Royal Burgh. The three boards will all be the same, but located in different parts of the Burgh. Also there will be a website, called The New Galloway Story, which will provide more in depth information and can evolve over time with new contributions being added as appropriate.

It is very much a part of the motivation behind the project to engage the interest of a wide range of people from in and around the area. Although it is LING-led, in the sense that LING made the bid and will hold the grant funding, its success will depend on how well this comes to feel like a project people in and around New Galloway want to be a part of.

It would just be lovely if people want to share ideas initially and comment on suggestions. There’s lots of material around already that can be incorporated, so I don’t think we’ll be short of inputs. But the planning process will be at the heart of its success.

With that in mind, please do respond to this message with any thoughts, reactions, suggestions off the top of your head. (Or not – no pressure!). If you would like to be kept in the picture, please contact Bob (LING Treasurer)) rtdglaister@aol.com, who is heading up this project, and he can add you to the mailing list for people interested in this project and log any suggestions or comments you may have.

2. Fundraising and ownership of the Town Hall

It is increasingly difficult to secure any grant funding for capital developments in a building that is not owned by the charity itself. Currently the hall is owned by the Council, but they are more and more restricted in the money they have available to keep buildings like this going.

We are at a critical point in terms of engaging with an asset transfer process. We have to convince, not just other people, but ourselves too, of the financial and practical viability of any plans and we remain a rather small steering group of trustees. While not guaranteed, it is likely that, if we were to put forward a sound business plan, the decision would go in our favour. It feels like a big step to take, and a long term lease would be another option, but the reality is that the world has changed and councils are not suddenly going to have resources again to maintain or improve Town Halls like ours. This makes the choice a fairly stark one but Dumfries and Galloway Council Asset Transfer Department have indicated they would offer guidance throughout such a process.

We are pleased to be able to announce that we have won grant funding support from The Heritage Lottery Fund, Awards for All and the Architectural Heritage Fund to a total of £15,000. This has allowed us to commission a viability study which will explore whether it is feasible for LING to take over the ownership of the Town Hall. This work will take place between April and July 2019 and we are delighted to announce that, after a tendering process, we have just appointed Creetown Initiative, led by Andrew Ward, to carry this out.

In the meantime we have been helped by Stewartry Area Committee, and by the Glenkens Community Shop, to progress with some shorter-term plans and we are very grateful to them.

Depending on, and potentially in parallel with, a process of taking ownership of the Town Hall, we would be developing longer-term plans and seeking funding for major refurbishment of the Town Hall. Funding would be needed to pay for the full costs of this process, covering architects’ fees, lawyers’ fees – and, equally importantly, a project manager.

3. Become a Heritage Hub

‘The New Galloway Story’ makes good use of the Town Hall building, itself an interesting part of the burgh history. We plan to develop this further, improving and extending the displays, inviting contributions and stories from visitors and taking greater advantage of the building itself. The upper hall with its beautiful wooden ceiling has a series of mottoes in heraldic script around the tops of the walls and heraldic shields on the ceiling. We have an estimate and hope to secure grant funding to restore these ‘Victorian Moral Maxims’ to their former glory.

4. ‘Friends’ of the Town Hall

As well as building a membership of LING, we are inviting our supporters to become ‘Friends of the Town Hall’ by signing up to pay a small monthly subscription. This helps  with our running costs and enables us to keep making small step-by-step improvements. Friends are invited to a summer wine and cheese event with an opportunity to review progress and are entered in a twice yearly prize draw with a prize of £50.

FRIENDS pay £5 per month ( £8 for a couple) by standing order.

If you might be interested in becoming a Friend of the Town Hall, please email rtdglaister@aol.com. (This is Bob Glaister who is Treasurer of LING). Alternatively you can request a hard copy of this form from Ros Hill at Rathan House, High Street, New Galloway.