Theme 1 – Understanding the Landscape
Gi’e me a spark o’ nature’s fire; that’s a’ the learning I desire’
– Robert Burns 1785
– Robert Burns 1785
In order to celebrate our unique heritage, we need to understand our historical landscape. Projects will look at discovering/rediscovering our historical past.
1.1 Attainment Through Archaeology (Archaeology Scotland): This project will provide heritage training opportunities for marginalised young people and community groups of all ages. It will enable participants to develop new skills whilst also improving local heritage for the benefit of local people and the local economy. The project will contribute to other CCLP projects. Activity will be linked to the “Heritage Hero Awards” which are promoted and recognised by the Awards Network – the youth awards network in Scotland.
1.2 Coalfield Place Names (Glasgow University): Place-names are a window through which we can glimpse the past of the CCLP area. A key to being able to engage local communities in the intangible heritage of the landscape in which they live is encountering its names. Names have the ability to allow us to understand the dynamic nature of a landscape’s past, and the many layers of human interaction with it over time. They can tell us about the flora and fauna, and changing environment of the locale; they can be a window onto the settlement history of an area, and in the case of the CCLP, the development of industry.
This project will harness local interest in the subject of place names, to create a coherent volume of work that aligns with national activities in this field and acts as best practice guidance on the subject. Place-names are a window through which we can glimpse the past of the CCLP area.
1.3 Connecting Coalfield Communities (Coalfield Regeneration Trust): There is already a lot happening in relation to heritage, but it is happening in isolation, so a joined up approach needs to be taken. Many Heritage societies are working independently on their own projects and more collaboration is needed.
This project will bring together local heritage groups so that they can share their knowledge with members of communities who are interested in developing their own knowledge about the heritage of their local area. A learning centred approach will be used and a key outcome of the programme will be to raise confidence levels and increase self-esteem – ultimately changing lives.
1.4 Life in the Lost Villages (Strathclyde University): The ‘Row Villages’ in the East Ayrshire coalfields are a remarkable and distinctive man-made feature in the landscape and transformed the upland areas where they were set. When they were built they played a vital role but could not survive the exhaustion of the mineral resources they were built to exploit.
Although deindustrialisation, depopulation and open-cast mining has destroyed much of the surviving evidence of these places, there are still surviving traces of them and they are of real importance not only to the Cumnock and Doon Valley area, but to the industrial history and heritage of Scotland as a whole.
This oral history project aims to capture the ‘intangible history’ of life in the Row Villages and the impact of deindustrialisation by exploring in depth the so called lost villages of Lethanhill, Burnfoot and Benquhat in the Doon Valley and Commondyke and Darnconner in the Lugar Valley. Former residents of Glenbuck will also be interviewed as part of the project.
1.5 Landscape Apprentices (East Ayrshire Woodlands): This project aims to create 15 Modern Apprenticeship (MA) places over 5 years through the auspices of East Ayrshire Woodlands. These will be in land management and has been designed to capitalise on opportunities that may arise from Scottish Government’s drive to increase woodland and forestry cover in Scotland. Other CCLP projects will be able to use the apprentices to deliver some of their activities.
Theme 2 – Visiting the Landscape
‘O’ would some power the giftie gi’e us; to see ourselves as others see us’ – Robert Burns 1786
Providing opportunities to visit and spend time in the landscape is important. Projects will look at celebrating our unique history, promote stewardship of the land and create new opportunities to enjoy the landscape.
2.1 Scottish Industrial Railway Centre Dunaskin (Ayrshire Railway Preservation Group): This project will focus on capacity building with the ARPG to help forge community links, increase volunteer numbers and identifying funding sources with a view to increase the visitor offering and visitor numbers. It will also look at how to improve the cafe, the renovation of the old wagon shed to a accommodate visitors and a narrow gauge railway and the building of a new shed to house the collection of historical important restored rolling stock.
2.2 Sense of Place (Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere): This project will support local people to identify and celebrate the various qualities that make their part of the Biosphere unique and special. It will, in particular, explore the natural and cultural heritage in and around East Ayrshire’s towns and villages that are located within the Biosphere. The project will use the Biosphere’s ‘Sense of Place’ toolkit which incorporates a participatory workshop approach.
2.3 Doon Valley Mountain Biking (The Zone, Dalmellington): This project will provide employment/training opportunities for some of the hardest to reach young people within the Dalmellington area whilst helping to develop much needed cycle and mountain biking infrastructure on Auchinroy Hill. The aim is to increase visitor numbers and hopefully encourage local entrepreneurs to open up new businesses. The project will also contribute to the health and well-being agenda.
2.4 Lugar Heritage Centre (Lugar Parish Church): This project will introduce a local industrial history exhibition, café and meeting hub to the village by utilising the former parish church (“C” listed). The church was originally built as a shed where the railway engines, which used to transport iron from the Lugar works, were maintained. The church sits close to the River Lugar Walk (see below).
It will be open through the week and be at the heart of a heritage information display telling of the local history and involving local people and the primary school in its preparation and its running. William Baird & Co., William Murdoch and the Butes will feature in the displays and Information Centre. We are working together with the local history group to ensure accuracy of records, planning workshops with the local schools (enclosed are supporting letters from both the history group and the local primary school) and are in contact with the Glasgow Science Centre to create interesting workshops for a more interactive experience.
Theme 3 – Accessing the Landscape
‘The mosses, waters, slaps and stiles; that lie between us and oor hame’ – Robert Burns 1790
Due to historic mineral extraction in the centre of our area, communities have been cut off from the landscape. Being able to gain access is an important element of the CCLP. Projects will create new opportunities to open up and enjoy the landscape.
3.1 Lugar Water Walk (CCLP and East Ayrshire Leisure): This project will provide improvements to the Lugar Walk allowing a wider range of users to access the landscape and associated heritage along its length.
3.2 Doon Valley Walk (CCLP and East Ayrshire Leisure): This project will establish a new path within the Doon Valley. The proposed route starts at Loch Doon and ends at Patna and will link up Bellsbank, Dalmellington, and Waterside. This walk will open up the landscape and within the Doon Valley heritage to many more users.
Theme 4 – Animating the Landscape
‘the voice of nature loudly cried, and many a message from the skies, that something in us never dies’ – Robert Burns 1790
Bringing our cultural and historical heritage to life will provide opportunities for residents and visitors to find out more about the area. Projects will promote stewardship of the land and create new opportunities to enjoy the landscape.
4.1 A Musical Celebration of the Coalfields Heritage (The Cumnock Tryst): This project will give community groups across Cumnock and the Doon Valley the opportunity to create a unique collection of musical theatre that captures their response to their landscape, the social history of the area, its communities, the musical heritage (brass/silver bands, pipe bands, working men’s club bands etc.) of its people and places. The completed collection will be performed by internationally renowned musicians, alongside musicians from all parts of the CCLP area during the 2022 Cumnock Music Festival and beyond. The project will be facilitated by The Cumnock Tryst working in partnership with a wide range of communities and local musicians. The information arising from the oral history of the lost villages will be able to feed into the musical collection.
4.2 My Father was a Farmer (Cumnock History Group): Ayrshire is well-known for its agricultural heritage. It also remains one of the most productive agricultural counties in Scotland, with a diversity that is unmatched in other parts of the country. Historically, farming in the county was carried out by cottars, who farmed small holdings, often as little as fifty acres or less. In the eighteenth century, the agricultural revolution saw many estates reallocate their lands, merging numerous small farms into larger units, and introducing enclosures, formed by planting hedges or building stone dikes.
Agriculture has passed through a difficult time, with the reduction of the number of dairy farmers, a drop in sale prices for livestock and products, and the transference of land near the towns for housing and open-cast mining have all had an adverse effect.
This project aims to record the history of farming within the CCLP area. The impact of mining for coal, both deep underground and open cast, will be a particular focus.
4.3 Dalmellington Old Kirkyard (CCLP): The current Kirkyard is in many respects a historical gem. The aim of this project is to improve its appearance and make it more accessible and connected to the community. A key element of the project will be the renovation of the MacAdam (of tarmacadam fame) Mausoleum; it will also link up with the Attainment Through Archaeology project.
4.4 School Green Gym (The Conservation Volunteers): This project will provide an alternative approach to exercise by encouraging young people and teachers to take part in a programme of outdoor activities linked to the environment and practical conservation activities.
It will offer a creative way to link to Curriculum for Excellence experiences and outcomes while complementing whole school initiatives. For example, active schools and promoting the mental health and wellbeing of children by engaging them in practical conservation activities in their school grounds and surrounding green spaces. The School Green Gym will provide the opportunity for young people to learn new skills and build self-esteem. The overall aim is to promote health & wellbeing of the pupils and encourage an interest and respect for the environment.
Theme 5 – Enhancing the Landscape
‘I’m truly sorry man’s dominion, has broken nature’s social union’
– Robert Burns 1785
Our landscape has been scared by open cast mining, most of which is under remediation. Although we cannot address these issues directly, we have the opportunity to improve and enhance other areas of the landscape. Projects will lead to a renewed landscape through conserving and enhancing the natural environment as well as restoring peatlands and establishing new habitats for flora and fauna.
5.1 Perfect Peatlands (East Ayrshire Coalfields Environment Initiative): This project will deliver habitat enhancement at a landscape-scale by restoring peatlands in the Coalfield Communities Landscape Partnership (CCLP) area. Working with private landowners and specialist consultants and contractors, the project will employ current best-practice in peatland restoration to bring degraded sites into a better ecological condition, benefiting both wildlife, the environment and the communities surrounding the sites.
5.2 Healthy East Ayrshire Rivers (East Ayrshire Coalfields Environment Initiative): This project will empower and support local communities to take action that will help conserve the river environment. The project will provide training in a simple biological monitoring technique that can be used to detect variations in river water quality. It enables communities to communicate directly with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).
5.3 Coalfields for Pollinators (East Ayrshire Coalfields Environment Initiative): This project will help reverse 80 years of devastating habitat loss and fragmentation of our wildflower-rich grasslands.
The Scottish Pollinator Strategy (2017 – 2027) has highlighted the need for more, larger, and better quality and more connected areas of wildflower-rich habitat to be created. This project will assist local threatened pollinator populations to recover, reconnect and move across the landscape in response to climate change.
5.4 Coalfields to Wildwoods (EADAH): This project will help empower local people and give them a direct stake in their local landscape. It will train them in the propagation of key native pioneer plant species (aspen, juniper and montane willow) and set up a network of small local plant nurseries located in a range of venues to provide the resources required to initiate community growing. The aim would be to assist the restoration of open cast sites and improve overall woodland cover within the CCLP area.
5.5 Tower Street Pocket Park (Central Scotland Green Network): This project will transform an undeveloped, vacant site in the centre of Cumnock into an attractive, accessible greenspace. It will include raised beds for community growing, a social space for sitting / gathering, improved planting for biodiversity and wildlife, storage space for tools/ games, as well as some interpretation boards to tell the story of Tower Street.
5.6 Hedgerow Habitats (Netherthird Community Action Training): This project will implement a planting programme across the Netherthird community garden area and the community woodland area at Holmburn Road in Nerherthird. The community woodland is an area designated as Ancient Woodlands and has a right of way running through it. This is not well known in the local area. Part of the project will raise awareness of the heritage of the area leaving a legacy for the local residents. People will also be trained in planting and maintenance of hedgerows and wooded areas. The skills learned will be at varying levels from the hobbyists to those looking to gain employment.
5.7 North Kyle Masterplan (Forest and Land Scotland): This project will bring forward (from the anticipated start date of 2024) the revised North Kyle Land Management Plan. The visual appeal of the forest will be significantly enhanced by increasing conifer and broadleaf diversity. The aim is to create a new, lasting and positive inheritance for the area whilst tackling the legacy of an industrialised landscape.
This early review will be a fundamental “root and branch” redesign, which will fully revise the plan and incorporate all of the recent developments, survey and landscape information and public feedback. This is considerably more work than the standard 5 year review and will therefore be extra work, at a different scale with added complexity for the design incorporating extensive landscape and community consultation. Extra layers of community engagement will be required to fully address the CCLP, North Kyle Masterplan and community aspirations; this will require more extensive engagement and will therefore need to be adequately resourced.
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