Kirriemuir pupils get a handle on ancient skills in wall project

© Paul Smith
Joan Chalmers, Bronwyn Cotton, Richard Fraser, Eddie Henderson, Finlay Hobson, Craig Frew, John Shanks and Stuart Collin

Young minds have been coached in applying modern thinking to one of the final elements of a successful project centred around the protection of Kirriemuir’s built heritage.

As the town’s seven-figure Central Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) draws nearer to its conclusion, pupils from Webster’s High School have once again enjoyed hands-on experience of the traditional techniques used in the restoration of local structures.

The focus of the latest work is a wall in St Colme’s Close, linking the town centre and Reform Street.

Part of the sandstone wall running along the close is to be the location for a new mosaic being created by well-known local artist Maureen Crosbie.

Maureen’s work already adorns the walls along the banks of the River South Esk built as part of the town’s multi-million pound flood protection scheme and the Kirrie artwork will feature references to important aspects of local life.

However, parts of the wall were in a poor state and earlier this year the CARS steering group took the decision to invest £30,000 in repairing the wall to make it suitable for the installation of the memory mural.

Masonry specialist Craig Frew has been leading the group of senior pupils from Webster’s High repairing and repointing the wall, using hot lime techniques which have been the subject of recent development after a study into the mortar and its ageing properties.

“This has proved to be a very interesting wall to work on in terms of the traditional aspects of it and the work required,” said a CARS spokesperson.

“Webster’s High School pupils have already been involved in the project, but this was something new for them and a longer block, giving them a real insight into wall work.

“We are also very grateful to Kinnordy estate, who provided stone to help repair the wall, and that allowed the pupils to also get into stone-handling and stone cutting.

“The wall project is another part of the legacy work of the CARS scheme as we look to get it all tied up.”

The Kirrie CARS  partnership between Angus Council and Historic Scotland has funded a grant programme responsible for a variety of projects within the heart of the burgh, from small repair schemes to the £650,000 housing conversion of the 19th century Glengate Hall.