Monday, April 5, 2010

Trying to save a little piece of history....

I started out my day feeling unwell--so I got a lot of extra sleep...

Yesterday evening, David and I had gone to an emergency community meeting about a historic wall in Scotland that a developer was trying to take down.  Everyone agreed to meet up again today when the community council was coming to visit the site.  So I mustered all my energy and showed up for moral support and WHAT a gathering!

The old walls and buildings beside this stretch of road have been declared unsafe and were planned for immediate demolition.  Community members rallied and did a bunch of research on the wall.  These buildings and wall are part of an old farmstead clearly shown in an engraving by Andrew Thom from 1845:

See that wall on the right hand side of the engraving?  That's one we are standing in front of today in 2010!  It may even be much older than 1845 since there is another engraving from 1693 that it looks like it is in.

So, why tear it down?  Well, a very small portion of the wall is leaning towards the sidewalk.  But instead of taking it down, fixing it and rebuilding...they were planning on destroying it!  What's really behind this is a developer that wants access to a large field behind the wall.  But instead of going through the Planning department of the City Council they are going through the Transportation Department by trying to declare it unsafe (and thus it can be taken down with no thought to the historical significance because of a loophole in the system).  Unfortunately the wall and adjacent buildings are not listed (though the original farmhouse is a listed historical property--so you could argue that the wall that was part of the farmstead is included) and the wall is included in the parameters of the historic conservation village.

What was really wonderful and uplifting was to see the community spirit of everyone--we've really rallied together:

JCB is the company that makes the demolition/heavy machinery.

Here's a close-up of the wall:

The outcome of the City Councillors' meeting?  They are going to take down the very top piece of one small part of the wall that is leaning too much.  But instead of demolishing it, they are going to take it down with a stonemason present so that it can be rebuilt in the future. 

Here's the bit of the wall they are taking the top part off (this used to be an old chicken coop--you can see it in the engraving above):

They are also going to assess the gable attached to the house below.  That house (the one without the roof) --is the shady bit.  Apparently, all the terracotta roof tiles were smashed in by someone and crushed into bits with a hammer.  Without the roof, the structural integrity of the adjacent gable/wall might be compromised and considered unsafe...hmmm...wonder who did that!  AWFUL!

So, we will see how it progresses!  It's a really important fight because it sets a precedence for historical sites (often in very small villages) all over Scotland and the issues they might potentially face in the future!

It was invigorating to be there with everyone. Nothing like a good protest to make me feel much better :-)


  1. David Lawrence GrantApril 06, 2010 11:35 AM

    Great post, sweetiepie!
    I love the "unwell" picture. You're so funny. Hope you're feeling much better today.

  2. Oh Debi! I just realized that you are in Scotland! We lived in England for eight years; DH is British and both of our boys were born there. I look forward to following your blog!


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