Kirriemuir’s million pound-plus town centre regeneration has been marked in word, song and another eye-catching addition to the area’s heritage.
In a Saturday ceremony, an eight-metre long memories mosaic was unveiled at Cumberland Close, signalling the successful completion of an initiative which involved all ages within the community, and formally bringing the curtain down on the five-year CARS project which has transformed the heart of Kirrie.
The mosaic is just one of the lasting reminders of the Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS), a joint venture between Angus Council and Historic Environment Scotland established with the objective of reinstate the character of the historic buildings within the conservation area boundary, by providing grant funding for external repair and restoration projects.
It has included major projects such as the award-winning conversion of the old Glengate Hall into housing, but has also seen some 50 local buildings benefit from grant support to help owners carry out improvements.
In addition to the traditional building repair works, Kirrie CARS has worked closely with local schools and community groups including the Kirrie Connections dementia-friendly hub, through which artist Maureen Crosbie worked to create the attractive mosaic.
Maureen collected stories, anecdotes and memories through joining people at the hub and transformed them into the images that comprise the mosaic, each with their own story and including many very recognisable local connections, from a Meffan’s bus to a Black Tup ram.
Running through the mosaic are the words of local poet Violet Jacob’s work, The Wild Geese, which folk singer Christine Kydd sang at the weekend event, along with another piece entitled Ode tae Jim the Baxter, inspired by one of the participants she met during her involvement in the project.
Angus Provost and Kirrie councillor Ronnie Proctor said the involvement of people from age eight to 88 in the creation of the mosaic had been an example of the positive impact of the wider CARS project.
“I hope it has brought a close community even closer still and will leave Kirriemuir with a lasting legacy from which we can all continue to protect our proud history and secure a prosperous future for the town,” he said.
He also paid tribute to key figures in the wider CARS scheme, including former Angus Council leader Iain Gaul and his Kirriemuir councillor wife, Jeanette, along with CARS project officer Karen West and Kirsty Macari of Angus Council.
Kirrie Connections project co-ordinator Graham Galloway said: “In addition to the art work, Kirrie Connections has also collaborated with CARS on a variety of public realm works in the town, most notably the new crossing point outside Lyall Court.
“This joint work was highlighted by the Royal Institute of Town Planners as an excellent example of community partnership work. Kirrie is looking the best it has in years, and a lot of that is down to all the hard work the CARS team have put in.”
The town square was repaired and refurbished, incorporating designs from schoolchildren, and there was an ethos of education and training throughout the five-year project, with young people involved in hands-on projects involving traditional skills.