In summer 2011, following the return of The Tall Ships to Greenock, Magic Torch initiated a campaign to have Greenock's historic Sugar Sheds used for community activities, bringing it back to life with art, music, song and food, just as it had been during the Tall Ships event. Within a very short space of time, we had a facebook page with thousands of followers, a petition with hundreds of signatures and national press interest. Good stuff.
While directly linked to our belief in local heritage, we felt the campaign merited its own blog, which we would urge you to read and follow here. You can also visit the facebook page which kicked it all off. The campaign is no longer something we are actively pursuing, but the Sheds themselves are most certainly still a talking point.
Torch had long championed alternative uses for the Sheds, here's just a few of our articles and letters from over the last fifteen years...
One of the most fun things about the campaign, was asking local bands to reinterpret "Celebration Ode", the poem written to commemorate the inauguration of the James Watt Dock 130 years ago. Here's what's been recorded so far...
I also had good fun writing and recording a 2 minute Sugar Sheds ghost story, "Candy Bones" for The Woman In Black ghost story competition. The story reached the finals, but then got thoroughly pumped. Ah well.
Magic Torch let the campaign go fallow, having tired of banging our heads against the old red brick wall, however The Sheds continued to attract interest. On June 28 2012, as part of the Identity Heritage project, Riverside Inverclyde and James Watt Dock LLP allowed the Sugar Sheds to be used to stage a historical drama focussed on migration in Inverclyde.
2013 saw controversy over Riverside Inverclyde's investment in the site, a story of no surprise to those who pay attention, but which, in the politically charged environment of indyref Scotland, has sadly become a politicised debate about "who did what when" as opposed to a reasoned out approach to solving the problem.
An arts project Absent Voices, charted the story of the sheds, and in 2014, a multimedia show White Gold, was staged in the buildings as part of the Commonwealth celebrations. In 2017, permission was granted to develop new facilities for the marina at the James Watt dock.
Local regeneration, public art, steam power, superheroes and the Sugar Sheds also feature in my childrens book The Superpower Project, published by Floris Books.
Our last piece of work "inspired by" the sheds, was this wee mini comic featuring everyones favourite anti-nationalisation logo Mr Cube...