Threads of the Past Woven into the Future
A generous donation of an A I Welders Social Club jumper took place yesterday (Tuesday 9 October) at Inverness Museum and Art Gallery (IMAG) by Jimmy McEwen, a former A I Welders employee. Jimmy, and many of his former colleagues, regularly meet up at their social club and invited the Inverness Townscape Heritage Partnership (ITHP) to join them to hear their stories, as part of their heritage engagement programme.
The handover was part of a special event at IMAG to celebrate the generosity of those participating in and contributing to the heritage engagement events held over the past two and a half years. The jumper was worn by Jimmy in the 1970s/1980s and had been commissioned by the A I Welders Social Club for activities such as squash and football.
The A I Welders Social Club is one of several organisations who came forward to share their stories of working, living and leisure on Academy Street. ITHP has worked in partnership with High Life Highland and AOC Archaeology Ltd to create a digital heritage trail. The website showcases much of the material which local people have generously shared and has been designed so that new content can be added as more material is identified. The website address is: http://www.highlandexplore.scot/
At the same time as preserving Jimmy’s jumper, work is currently underway to restore the former AI Welders building on Academy Street and is scheduled for completion by September 2019. The flagship building is the first major investment of grant funding by the ITHP. The owners, Cairngorm Taverns are working in partnership with contractors LTM Ltd to bring the building back to its former glory and to create a city showcase for Cairngorm and Loch Ness Breweries.
Chairman of the Townscape Heritage Partnership, Councillor Richard Laird said: “Jimmy’s kind donation is testament to the many people who have come forward to share their precious memories and items. Images of his jumper will be added to the website and this is a good example of how we wish to gather and save such important items. I would encourage other people to come forward with any other memorabilia they would like to share so that future generations can enjoy the history and heritage of Academy Street wherever they are in the world.”
High Life Highland’s Chief Executive Ian Murray said “Without the generous contributions of all those who took part in the heritage engagement events over the last 2 ½ years it wouldn’t be possible to tell the story of Academy Street in the level of detail which is at the core of the Inverness Townscape Heritage Project. I would like to thank Jimmy and all of the other participants for their contributions to the project and look forward to seeing many of these stories preserved for future generations on the Inverness Townscape Heritage trail.”
Focusing on Academy Street, the Townscape Heritage project is a collaboration of funding partners including The National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Inverness City Heritage Trust (ICHT), Historic Environment Scotland (HES) and is co-ordinated and led by The Highland Council, contributing to a project fund, from which grants are given to local property owners, businesses and organisations to allow them to carry out high-quality repairs and historic reinstatement to properties and spaces within the defined townscape heritage area.