Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Setting up a Community Heritage Group

AULD EARLSTON is a small community heritage group in the rural Berwickshire village of Earlston in the Scottish Borders.  Set up in 2012 by an enthusiastic group of volunteers, it aims to preserve the history of our village (population 1700) for future generations,    by collecting  documents and sharing memories and photographs.

Two local residents were initially asked to give a talk to primary school pupils on what life was like growing up in the  village in the 1950's.  Their talk seemed to be a success and they were asked to speak to other local organizations.  Many memories were rekindled and it proved there was a great interest in preserving the heritage of the village. 

The project was broadened, local historians consulted  and the group was formed. It was fortunate to  be donated  the rich historical and pictorial information gathered by local historians John and Mary Weatherly,  who had a wealth of documents,  photographs, press cuttings and memorabilia about Earlston. 

An early appeal to the local community resulted in the Group being inundated with  postcards, photographs and other information which has been  collated, scanned and indexed, with currently over 1400 items in this collection alone. 

Copyright © A R Edwards and Son,  Selkirk.    (Cathy Chick Collection). 
All Rights Reserved
This postcard view of the Market Square can be dated prior to 1920, as it depicts  a horse and cart at the village pump on the right.  The well, with a trough for horses and cattle to drink from,  was demolished to became the site of the village's War Memorial, unveiled in 1921. 

The Group is always  open to accepting other material,  with photographs scanned, and where requested,   returned to their owner. 

Support has also come from The Scottish Borders Archive, Local History and Family History Service at the Heritage Hub, Hawick with advice eg.on the  Sharing Memories project  and  the provision of archive boxes and envelopes, whilst the local primary  school has given space for the secure storage of our material.

Current activities include:
  • An annual slide show and exhibition  which attracts capacity audiences. 
  • Displays on particular themes at local events e.g. Earlston Civic Week and Earlston Community Day.
  • A Sharing Memories project, talking to older residents and recording  their experiences on growing  up in the village.
  • An ongoing project to collect  press cuttings on Earlston from local newspapers.
  • An associated Facebook page Lost Earlston, featuring old photographs and allowing its followers to share, discuss and learn from Earlston's past. 

    Two recent projects are:
  • Working with the local primary school at a Learning Partnership Open Day where we presented a display of schooldays past which attracted a lot of interest. Our next joint project is hoped to focus on the history  of the Earlston Railway (1863-1965). 

  • In March this year, we launched  a blog with short articles and photographs on the Group's activities and on aspects of Earlston's past. 
The long-term vision of Auld Earlston is to open a Heritage Room in the village where visitors can come to view the material held. 

For more information go to the Auld Earlston Blog HERE 

Valuing the History of our Village for Future Generations


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