VIDEO: Crowds gather as Perthshire town unveils local history archive with a difference

An iconic red phone box purchased for just £1 has become home to an invaluable new local history archive for the people of Alyth.

Now dubbed The Story Box, it tells the story of the town from the Picts and pre-history to the modern day and the people who now live there.

Dorothy Lothian and P1 Pupil Kamryn Burdass officially open The Story Box.© DC Thomson
Dorothy Lothian and P1 Pupil Kamryn Burdass officially open The Story Box.

The cultural project has been years in the making, with sound artists starting to collect and record stories as far back as 2014.

Now the first phase of the project is complete, and it is hoped it will help to revitalise the town and aid its recovery following the devastating flooding Alyth experienced in July 2015.

The Story Box was officially opened in the Alyth Market Square by Dorothy Lothian, the oldest contributor to the archive.

Children of P1 & P7 at Alyth Primary sing a song they have been learning.© DC Thomson
Children of P1 & P7 at Alyth Primary sing a song they have been learning.

Her recollections of rural childhood during the Second World War are among 11 stories, songs and poems to be found within — accessed simply by lifting the receiver.

They include tales of the Picts from pre-history and the monks of Alyth’s 5th century Church, together with stories of the past lives of the farming folk of the fertile Strathmore Valley and of the people, industry and shops of the once thriving market town.

The stories also paint an audio portrait of the present day people and how the remarkable community spirit of the town helped it survive the devastating flash flood of July 2015.

The telephone box in Alyth now converted into The Story Box.
The telephone box in Alyth now converted into The Story Box.

The future of Alyth is told through imagined stories and songs written by the young people of the town, recorded during digital and sound technology workshops run by the project in Alyth Primary School and with the Alyth Youth Partnership.

Over time, the stories already contained within will be joined by yet more, gathered from locals and those with links to Alyth but who now live around the world.

Project designer, producer and Alyth resident Marian Bruce said: “After three years of planning we are thrilled to be launching our time-travel phone box in Alyth.

“The project has really caught the imagination of the town.

“We have already collected more than 100 stories, songs and poems about the past through to the future of Alyth and the project will continue to gather more stories over the next 18 months of the project.”

It was Alyth Community Council chair, Amanda Blakeman, who originally set the challenge to the people of Alyth to find a use for the de-commissioned box.

She has been delighted with the response, saying: “The Story Box is a real asset for the town which will give a boost to the community after the long recovery we have endured since the devastating flood of July 2015.”

The Story Box is one of three projects launching Cateran’s Common Wealth, a new initiative in Eastern Perthshire which is using one of Scotland’s hidden gems, the Cateran Trail, as a stage for a multi-year programme of diverse arts, cultural and heritage activities and events.

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