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Mearns kids put wind in the sails of Cutty Sark heritage project

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A new generation has celebrated the launch of a modern-day link between the Mearns and, perhaps, the most famous high seas clipper of the 19th century.

Looking out through dreich weather across a grey and foreboding North Sea, Inverbervie primary pupils were joined by pals from Glenbervie and Auchenblae schools to unveil a new website celebrating the area’s connection to locally-born Cutty Sark designer Hercules Linton and the myriad Scottish connections surrounding the story of the remarkable ship.

The virtual museum website launch has been a year-long labour of love for the youngsters involved in the project managed by Mearns Heritage Services, and the event took place 148 years to the day Cutty Sark was launched into the Clyde at Dumbarton.

The Cutty Sark in all its glory.

Over the past 12 months, the schools has been researching different aspects of local heritage, with Bervie pupils concentrating on the life and work of locally-born designer Linton, while Glenbervie dug into the history of the father of Robert Burns, William Burnes, who was born in the Mearns, just outside Stonehaven.

Glenbervie kirkyard is where the ancestors of Robert Burns are buried, and where he visited, on his Highland tour of 1787.

Auchenblae school produced their research on James Taylor, born just outside the village before he went on to revolutionise the tea industry in Ceylon and became known as The Father of Tea, with a museum in Sri Lanka dedicated to his life and work.

Project director Dave Ramsay said: “This has been a valuable community heritage project and the pupils of the three schools deserve great credit for their research, and for laying down these important aspects of our heritage for present and future generations.

“There are two main purposes of the website, the first being to portray an integrated rural and maritime heritage of the Mearns, portraying famous people, events, locations and connections to Hercules Linton and Cutty Sark.

“The second is to set the scene with these connections, and inspire the local community to strive for the establishment of a permanent museum in the local area, in honour of Hercules Linton.”

The Lord Lieutenant of Kincardineshire, Carol Kinghorn and Provost of Aberdeenshire, Bill Howatson hailed the youngsters for their hard work over many months.

Mr Howatson said: “This is not a project which will gather dust on a shelf, but a starting point for something much greater of which we all will be proud.

“We have been handed a valuable resource with this integrated heritage website, and a tremendous potential opportunity to take this forward for the benefit of Inverbervie and beyond.

“The challenge now is to harness the rich legacy of the Mearns maritime heritage and secure its rightful place in the shaping of a nation”

Cutty Sark curator Louise Mafarlane, said “Cutty Sark travelled the globe but her origins are rooted in Scotland.

“This website provides a timely exploration of Hercules Linton – a name sadly not known to many today – and the world famous ship’s broad Scottish heritage.”

Fotheringham Property Developments of Gourdon sponsored the project and Cutty Sark cyclists Ronan Littlejohn and Gary Thomson of Johnshaven  raised funds with a sponsored cycle ride from the Linton memorial in Bervie to the Scottish Maritime Museum in Dumbarton.

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