Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Wee Nasties - Free Download

We still have a few copies of the original book which we'll make available again later in the year, but in the meantime, here's a copy you can enjoy right now, for FREE.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Sir Glen Douglas Rhodes - Greenock Folk Hero

A recently discovered portrait of local archivist, adventurer and folklorist Sir Glen Douglas Rhodes, sometime resident of the Dutch Gable House. The picture and some of Sir Glen's archive materials relating to Captain Kidd are currently on display there.

Sir Glen disappeared shortly after his famous investigations into river and serpent worship cults in the area. We will dramatise elements of his archive and his battle with the sinister Cluthee in the Tales of the Oak comic later this year. Sir Glen is also involved in the Tin Jimmy Mystery, made an appearance in Identity The Archivists Treasure and has been a regular fixture of and inspiration for Magic Torch's folklore and heritage publications, since our very first book, 13 years ago.

You can pick up a FREE collectable postcard of this portrait at The Dutch Gable House, 7 1/2 John Wood Street and other community venues across the town.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Beacon Special Offer - The Unthanks Songs From the Shipyards

You can take advantage of an excellent special offer thanks to The Beacon Arts Centre, The Unthanks - Songs from the Shipyards Music & Film

Beacon Arts Centre - Saturday 20th July 2013 at 7:30pm

Songs from the Shipyards is an award-winning audio visual work tracing the story of the shipyards through a beautiful and moving 60 minute film, accompanied by a new score from The Unthanks, performed live.

Special Offer - The Trust Heritage Project
Tickets £10 instead of £15

To take advantage of this special offer email


with the word ‘Heritage’ in your email title, tell us your name, phone number and how many tickets you require in your email and our box office staff will call you back to confirm your booking and to arrange payment.

Politically powerful and full of emotional complexity rather than lazy nostalgia, Songs from The Shipyards won the Arts Council Award in the recent Culture Awards and is fast becoming an iconic and important account of Britain’s lost communities and industries.

Commissioned by and first performed at Tyneside Cinema, Songs from the Shipyards tells the story of the rise and fall of the shipbuilding industry and it’s impact on the lives of so many people in the 20th century; a spirited and stirring illustration of Britain’s industrial journey in microcosm that could just as easily be about the mills or the mines. Songs from the Shipyards is likely to affect anyone with connections to areas in which industry was once the lifeblood of community.

The film performance is a unique event that brings archive film of the UK’s shipyards and rivers to vibrant new life, re-visualised by internationally acclaimed filmmaker Richard Fenwick. Continuing their journey as England’s most innovative and adventurous folk band, Mercury award nominees The Unthanks perform live to the film, combining the folk songbook of the shipyard industry with new compositions and compelling arrangements, which can also be found on the accompanying Unthanks album, Diversions Vol. 3 - Songs from the Shipyards.

To book call 01475 723723 or click here

The Beacon Bistro will be offer a special pre-theatre menu prior to this performance. Advanced booking is required, please call us on 01475 723723 to reserve your table.     

Here's a little of what you can expect from this wonderful performance...


Wednesday, 17 July 2013

The Regeneration Game

The locally organised Keep Corlick Wild campaign has been attracting some press interest, and is holding a public meeting next week in the Beacon Arts Centre. You may agree with the industrial development of a windfarm, provided it creates (actual local) employment or you may wholeheartedly disagree with the disruption of archaeological sites - another example of our heritage being eroded. In all honesty, I personally have not yet made up my mind, and I speak as someone who loves heritage and lives a brisk walk along the cycle track away from the proposed site. I need much more proof of the proposed benefits, and I know I don't know enough yet about the new energy goldrush sweeping the nation. Regardless, discussion and conversation can only be a good thing - whatever the outcome. Indeed in other rural communities, windfarms are often owned and operated directly by the community - a much more transparent model. Well worth attending the meeting, and hats off to Keep Corlic Wild for building up a head of steam and keeping the conversation going.

As an aside, totally unrelated to the above event, 2020 Renewables (the company behind the planning application) were one of the companies invited into the area to create investment by Riverside Inverclyde. There has been a lot of reporting over the last few days about the failures of RI, in the Greenock Telegraph, Inverclyde Now, the Herald and in perhaps the most straightforward numbers based version on BBC News.

Since our abortive Sugar Sheds Campaign in 2011, I try to keep politics out of this blog, the fairy stories I tend to be interested in are the old ones. Also, you'd be surprised how often having an opinion interferes with my day job. I've been disappointed however to see the facts of Riverside Inverclyde's delivery/non-delivery being politicised; I'm not sure how the rest of the community feels, but I don't care whose "fault" it is, or who said what when, I just don't want it to happen again - RI are our third attempt at a regeneration agency in the last 25 years. During the Sugar Sheds campaign I spoke to MPs, MSPs and Councillors from every political party, as well as members of RIs team - everyone locally knew RI wasn't working the way it should, as did any of the interested public - it was after all, self evident from the lack of new jobs and industry being created. To suggest otherwise now is disingenuous. We didn't need a "mid term report" to tell us that, perhaps just to prove it.

For now and for the next few years, the Urban Regeneration Company model remains an important gateway for much needed investment into this area, lets hope that the future composition of Riverside Inverclyde takes genuine and direct account of the Scottish Government Regeneration Strategy "Achieving a Sustainable Future", which has very clear guidelines for how best to involve the community in regeneration in meaningful and measurable ways, perhaps also involving local business leaders and entrepreneurs in the development of what comes next. It would be nice if we could all work together to achieve that, regardless of politics. Maybe that way, one day, regeneration will stop being such a misused word and turn into an actual reality.

Right. No more soapboxing, not my intention to offend or bore, we're all entitled to our personal opinion and all that - lets get back to graphic novel pages, pirates, witches, poems and stories about mysterious steam powered robots and dangerous public artwork...

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

The Kempock Stane

The Kempock Stane

Let Greenock keep Hielan Mary’s grave,
And the Port her Boglestane hain,
Bonnie wee Gourock can launch at them a’,
She’s got her Kempock Stane!

What sichts hae ye seen, wi’ your auld grey een,
As the centuries pass yer owre,
Sin the Druids ringed ye wi’ Beltane fire,
An splashed ye wi human gore!

But naethin’ tae equal the Christian sequel!
Tae your shaft Mary Lamont they hitch,
The Innerkip priest and the laird o’ Blackha’
And burn the puir lass for a witch.

The Black Douglas look’d frae his Gourock Ha’
His eye ranged his wide demesne;
His name and his castle hae baith passed awa’,
Still stands the Kempock Stane.

Noo, a ye sailors an’ fisher lads,
That ettle tae sail the main,
If luck ye wad hae, gang up the brae,
And deiseal walk round the stane!

An a’ ye lads and lasses braw,
When two hearts beat as ane’
Go get you up and, hand in hand,
Dance round the Kempock Stane!

Let Hielan Mary her welcome extend
Frae the castle Rock at Dunoon;
Let Rothesay hae her Royal Keep
To hide in the heart o’ her toun;

Nae Royal Keep does Gourock need,
As queen owre the Clyde she’ll reign,
As lang as Granny guards the toon,
An we keep oor Kempock Stane.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Greenock Town Trail Launch

There's another opportunity to grab copies of Wee Nasties and see the accompanying exhibition upstairs at The Dutch Gable House tomorrow as part of the launch of the new Greenock Town Trail....
From Discover Inverclyde....

On Tuesday 9th July a new Greenock Town Trail is being introduced, using 21 plaques which are situated in pavements across the central area of Greenock, highlighting historic locations in the town as well as famous local people in Greenock’s past, notably James Watt and Abram Lyle.
The new Town Trail has been put together by local tourism group Discover Inverclyde and the Inverclyde Tourist Group with help from local historians and Inverclyde Council and with the majority of funding coming from the Council’s Community Facilities Fund.

Chris Jewell, a Director of Discover Inverclyde said, ‘We are delighted to have had this funding to introduce what we believe will be a fascinating insight into many aspects of Greenock’s past. The Trail will take around an hour to complete on foot, unless you linger at some of the areas highlighted by the individual plaques, but you can start and stop the Trail at any point. Thanks are due to the Council and the Tourist Group in particular for enabling the Trail to be put together for the benefit of the many tourists coming here and also for the local community.’

Eleanor Robertson, Chairperson of the Inverclyde Tourist Group added, ‘The Trail will provide a lot of interesting history of Greenock to the many visitors coming from the cruise liners, and help them to focus on our local heritage, while giving them a fascinating Trail to follow. We had a lot of fun putting all this information together, and also discovered a lot of facts about Greenock’s past which are not well known.’

On behalf of Inverclyde Council, Provost Robert Moran said, ‘Inverclyde has a rich and varied history. The Greenock Town Trail highlights some of the most fascinating aspects of the town. It's appropriate the launch of the trail is in William Street in Greenock. It is our oldest street with two of the oldest surviving properties, next to the birthplace of the incredible James Watt, in the shadow of the historic Municipal Buildings and round the corner is the Strathclyde Fire Museum and Heritage Centre. Within a very short walk this town trail will open up some amazing stories and I would encourage as many residents as possible to take the trail and share the incredible history of Greenock with your friends and family.’

The plaques extend from the Custom House on the river’s edge to Greenock Cemetery to the south and take in the Esplanade, Ardgowan Square and part of Nelson Street, Grey Place, Clyde and Cathcart Squares and William and Cathcart Streets. An accompanying booklet has been produced giving more detail to each location and copies are available free of charge from local libraries, the Dutch Gable House, the McLean Museum and a number of local shops.

In addition to the new Trail, six new double sided information signs are being installed highlighting to tourists and visitors many places worth visiting and including a number of additional facts about Greenock, its people and its past. Chris added, ‘We hope that both the new Trail and the information banners will add considerable interest and enjoyment to visitors’ time spent here and they will also provide a good source of information for the local community.’

The new Town Trail will be launched in William Street at 11am on Tuesday 9th of July after which a mini trail of four of the plaques in the immediate area will be visited by those present, accompanied by a number of characters from yesteryear including James Watt and Abram Lyle.