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What is Dandelion All About?

By Beth Piggitt

Beth Piggott – Emerging Creative Producer

Dandelion is a national creative community food growing initiative that is coming to Stranraer.  It is part of the UK wide UnBoxed Festival; a UK wide celebration of creativity taking place in 2022.  A new community garden, known as an Unexpected Garden, will be created on the harbour that brings together food, culture, ideas, and technology driven by the concept of sow, grow and share.  There will be 12 unexpected gardens across Scotland including floating gardens in Falkirk and touring garden on the back of an HGV lorry in Caithness. At the heart of the project, we want to reconnect people with the food they eat, how it’s grown and show them that in the unlikeliest of places food can be grown. There will be a summer events programme which will culminate in a harvest festival in September – with the aim of re-establishing it as a cultural festival for the town.

Why we’re doing it?

Dandelion is committed to empowering young people, inspiring the creative sector and offers new opportunities for the Stranraer community – which is why we’re taking part. Working in partnership, Stranraer Development Trust and The Stove Network are proud to be part of this new initiative that’s going to get hundreds of people growing their own food across Scotland, with over 400 schools taking part and a new archive or stories about growing, gardening and the unique history and memories of the town and local traditions.

What have we planned?

Our Unexpected Garden will be a hive of activity over the summer with a range of volunteer opportunities, events, workshops, and our take on the Harvest Festival. The garden will be a fantastic opportunity for people to come and learn the basics of food growing, try their hand at gardening and become part of a vibrant community; we are looking forward to welcoming new and experienced gardeners (I include myself in the latter).

People will be able to attend our free events and workshop programme over the summer which will encompass talks, music, crafting, music, and art, as well as veggie and herb plug giveaways and vertical farms on tour. Find out more about our programme of events on our Facebook Page.

Process up until now?

Over the course of the past few months, I’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to chat with members of the community to hear what they want to get from the garden and the types of activities they’d like to see there. The garden will be a community project that will continue to evolve over the summer, and I am looking forward to watching it grow as more people visit the garden and leave their mark on it.

Part of my own personal process has involved moving up to Scotland from a small town in Leicestershire and coordinating the build of a new community garden; two things I never imagined happening in my wildest dreams; a comforting reminder that you never know what’s around the corner. I’m sure the garden will continue to remind me of that.

We’ve been lucky to have the support of Northern Lighthouse Board and CalMac who are donating old nautical items including a 27ft lifeboat and 2 big colourful ocean buoys to the garden to help us create a garden fit for a seafarer. Burns Real Ale and Dumfries & Galloway Council have kindly allowed us the space to bring the project to Stranraer and Ulsterbus, who will be providing access to water for the garden have also kindly housed 25 tonnes of soil & mulch.

Find out more about Unboxed & Dandelion


Dumfries Fountain – History and Future?

Kirsten McClure Rowe has recently been in touch with the Stove as she has recently been researching into the history of Dumfries’ fountain, with the aim of hosting a crowdfunding campaign to restore the fountain to it’s former glory. Her proposal includes stripping back the layers of old peeling paint and professionally restoring it to it’s original colours which were gold and bronze with cactus painted to appear real.

The following is some of Kirsten’s research into the history, and potential future for the Dumfries Fountain:

‘On the 5th of December 1882, Provost Lennox unveiled the fountain which stands on Dumfries High Street. It was made by the Sun Foundry, Alloa and is one of only two models of its type known anywhere in the world. The fountain commemorates the supply of public drinking water to the town from nearby Lochrutton.

The first pipe of the waterworks was laid on 16th January 1851 after many years of wrangling by various committees in Dumfries and Maxwelltown. Many felt that the pipeline wasn’t necessary and that the half a dozen or so seepage wells, which supplied some of the water and the bulk of the supply taken by the “burn drawers” in their dirty wheeled barrels from just below the main sewerage outlet in the Nith and sold at a penny a bucket, were sufficient.

Original Fountain circa 1870
Original Fountain circa 1870

In September 1832, Cholera struck Dumfries. A total of 841 people contracted the disease and 421 died within Dumfries, with a further 237 becoming ill in Maxwelltown of which 127 died. A mass grave at St Michaels churchyard bears a memorial to 420 souls. Unofficial figures state that as many as 700 coffins were produced in the 3-month period of epidemic which ended on 27th November 1832.

“In 1848 cholera struck again. The infant Scottish Board of Health, with little real power, sent Dr John Sutherland from Glasgow, a man of strong personality. He found corpses lying in the streets and no action being taken at all. He got a medical board organised, a house cleansing programme under way and immediately tracked the cause to the water supply and cleared up the epidemic, but not before 431 people had died out of 814 cases.”

Colours of the Fountain in 2004
Colours of the Fountain in 2004

As early as 1765 there had been proposals to introduce a clean gravitation water supply into the town, however it took until 10th May 1850 for a Committee of the House to give a unanimous verdict in favour of the promoters. As it was chiefly working-class areas that suffered in the first cholera epidemic, it was suggested that intemperance and lack of religious faith had led to this divine punishment of the poor. It was only after the middle-class residents of Dumfries and Maxwelltown began to fall ill, that any real action was taken.

A newspaper article from 22nd October 1851 reports the “Record of Public Introduction of Water to Sister Burghs of Dumfries and Maxwelltown” “This boon has been secured after a severe and protracted struggle against the ignorance, apathy, prejudice and selfishness, which formed a strong anti-sanitary battalion that was, with difficulty, beaten from the field” “When the news arrived in Dumfries next day, the bells were rung and bonfires kindled in token of the general joy”

Early 1900s
Early 1900s

“The 21st October 1851 was chosen to introduce water from Lochrutton. Midsteeple bells rang, music from the Annan band played and flags flown”. “A fountain was erected between the Kings Arms and Commercial Hotels being the principle place of resort for the congregated crowds” “This structure, formed of fire clay is in a Roman style of art with Grecian ornaments and is very handsome”

The opening ceremony was performed by Provost Nicholson and was not without incident. When the Provost turned the valve, water shot into the air and descended to soak the assembled citizens!

This fountain was only ever intended to be a temporary fixture and was moved to Nithbank Hospital when our current fountain was unveiled 30 years later.

The fountain is no longer at Nithbank and further investigation is needed to uncover its current whereabouts.

Original fountain sited in Nithbank
Original fountain sited in Nithbank

The district council funded the purchase of the new fountain from the Sun Foundry, while donations from the townspeople of Dumfries paid for its decoration. A total of £191.0s 6d from 221 subscribers was raised. The fountain was a glorious sight to behold and the townsfolk crowded onto the High Street to witness the unveiling. The Dumfries and Galloway Standard dated 6th December 1882 describes the fountain in vivid detail.

Brilliant painted photo showing original colours
Brilliant painted photo showing original colours

“The boys, the dolphins and the storks are entirely gilded and look to be figures in massive gold. The ground of the fountain is bronzed with some of its conventional details displayed in gold. On four pedestals in the freestone basin are placed as many iron vases holding each a large iron cactus, coloured so cleverly after nature, that many who saw them thought they must be real.” – where are these cacti filled vases now?

Boys at the Fountain 1900
Boys at the Fountain 1900

In an amazing coincidence, the town of Kandy in Sri Lanka has an identical twin fountain! The inscribed dedication on the fountain reads “Erected by the Coffee Planters of Ceylon in Commemoration of the visit of Albert Edward, The Prince of Wales (1841-1910) to Kandy December 1875.” The Prince of Wales was the eldest son of Queen Victoria (1837-1901) who succeeded his mother as King Edward VII (1901-10). It was recently renovated and ceremonially bequeathed to the public of Kandy in June 2013.

Prince of Wales Fountain in Kandy, Sri Lanka
Prince of Wales Fountain in Kandy, Sri Lanka

Our fountain is a hugely important part of our social history. It marks a turning point for our ancestors, the people of Dumfries. It currently stands in a very sorry state with peeling paint and green algae. This once celebrated jewel of Dumfries town centre needs our help. Sadly, due to budget cuts, the maintenance of the fountain has not been a priority for the local council. Therefore, it falls to us to rescue it and bring it back to life.’

Sad fountain
News Project Updates

Rushes from Parking Space

IMG_7180 (1)
Strange yellow circles appeared in car parks around town
Stove widows with yellow circles
Clues began to emerge elsewhere and on social media
Meanwhile in a basement under Greyfriars Church other painting was going on
Meanwhile in a basement under Greyfriars Church other painting was going on
On Friday 17th October the Stove members and other members of the public gathered on Level Four of the underground NCP car park for the Annual General Meeting of The Stove Network
On Friday 17th October the Stove members and other members of the public gathered on Level Four of the underground NCP car park for the Annual General Meeting of The Stove Network
Hannah Brackston and Alex Wilde of Open Jar Artists Collective and Stephen Pritchard of Dot To Dot Active Arts led the discussion that followed the formal business of the AGM
The Stove Network Board worked hard
The Stove Network Board worked hard
Stan and Cara thought hard
Stan and Cara thought hard
Craig Patterson from Burns Cafe served Stovies from the back of a pick-up
Craig Patterson from Burns Cafe served Stovies from the back of a pick-up
The Doonhame Derby Doll Usherettes arrived
The Doonhame Derby Doll Usherettes arrived
Crucial chat
Everyone helped convert the space into a cinema
Eating popcorn whilst watching 'How to Start a Revolution'
Eating popcorn whilst watching ‘How to Start a Revolution’
The next day people played street games on the top deck of the carpark
The next day people played street games on the top deck of the carpark
The skaters were busy on Level 1
On Level 2 'Mirrorlands' by Mark Lyken and Emma Dove was showing on two walls simultaneously
On Level 2 ‘Mirrorlands’ by Mark Lyken and Emma Dove was showing on two walls simultaneously
On Level 3 was Mark and Emma’s ‘GabCab’ in which people were filmed talking about where they would like the taxi to take them
Emma Dove operating 'GabCab'
Emma Dove operating ‘GabCab’
Entering level 4
Entering level 4
Where Alice Francis made popcorn
Where Alice Francis made popcorn
...and Max Fox made hot chocolate
…and Max Fox made hot chocolate
Parking Space cinema - screening 'Shell'
Parking Space cinema – screening ‘Shell’
Screening of movies by Mutual Motion (films made by local skaters)...watched by local skaters
Screening of movies by Mutual Motion (films made by local skaters)…watched by local skaters

Parking Space – by The Stove Network and the people of Dumfries

Lead Artist: Katie Anderson

Stove Artist Team; Matt Baker, Hannah Brackston, Moxie DePaulitte, Doonhame Derby Dolls, Emma Dove, Dumfries Skaters,  Alice Francis, Max Fox, Andy Jardine, Mark Lyken, Will Levi Marshall, Debs McDowall, Mutual Motion, Stephen Pritchard, Colin Tennant, John Wallace, Ailsa Watson, Alex Wilde

Photography: Cate Ross, Colin Tennant, Galina Walls

Thanks to: Members and Board of The Stove Network, Stuart and Sean at NCP, SHAX, Speedy Hire

More images from Parking Space – here

Musings News

Bordeaux and Public Space

The Stove have been coined ‘cultural ambassadors for Dumfries’ as last week we packed our trunks and headed off for Bordeaux.

Why Bordeaux you might have asked?
To which we may have replied, 

‘Although it is undoubtedly bigger, better and sunnier, Bordeaux has several interesting parallels with Dumfries: it was a one-time great trading port on a river; its historic buildings and waterfront had suffered from misuse and neglect. The difference comes in how it has succeeded in regenerating itself in the last decade or so, with a strong focus on culture and environment.’ Indeed.

Bordeaux’s vast infrastructure and city centre regeneration over the past 15 years has focused largely on the riverside, and the design and creation of people friendly places over vehicle orientated ones.

Time and again we gravitated towards the area, for meetings, coffee, discussions and – possibly our most favourite public space, the fountain –also known as the Mirror.

The Mirror, which alternates between a shallow pool and ephemeral fog, forms part of the promenade extending along the river – filled with people on all manner and number of (human powered) wheels. Glasgow based artist Jacqueline Donnachie’s Slow Down project has been tested in a few towns and cities, most recently in Glasgow in the run up to the Commonwealth which sees bikes fitted with chalks that mark the routes taken by cyclists in the city to encourage cycling use… Cycling Dumfries looks to improve cycling closer to home – how could we think about our transport differently?

The city centre’s new look and feel, as well as Bordeaux’s Unesco Heritage status, has had input too on a cultural front with the AGORA (Architecture, Urban Planning and Design) biennale which has grown out of the regeneration works in the town into a fully fledged national event of it’s own standing. This year AGORA coincides with the Nithraid – taking place from 11th – 14th September.. but more on this later!

Of course, as much as the city centre is all absorbing and beautiful, the Stovies got an itch to explore a little more into the periphery spaces of Bordeaux – so we took (the very sleek) tram up to the Bacalan area – which is pretty serious about it’s regeneration on all fronts, as new builds and cranes jostled for space amongst established arts and social enterprise organisations.

Le garage moderne – a social enterprise with groups across France, teaches practical mechanics whilst also doubling up as exhibition space, and artists studios and office spaces – it caught the Stove’s wildest imagination – we’re quickly realising that we could outgrow 100 High Street…

And finally for this week – we’ve become a bit obsessed with the space out the back of the Stove, as we explore the mechanism for creating a new rear entrance for 100 High Street, discussions have been ongoing as to how to alter the sense and atmosphere of a place, especially one with shared use and ownership. Grand plans are being finalised as the impact of 100 High Street and it’s relationship to it’s surroundings grows and changes from the forgotten Happitt store into the Stove proper… as ever, we’ll keep you posted.

Les Vivres de l’Art – one of the wildest creative spaces we came across in Bordeaux.

Musings News

The Regeneration of Dock Park

The Stove set up temporary residence one afternoon last week in the newly regenerated and renovated Dock Park as part of the ongoing festivities celebrating the park’s clean face. In anticipation of this year’s Nithraid, we took to the river – send massed flotillas of paper boats downstream and out to the Solway. 

The boats were christened after famous links to the Park’s history including: 
The Great Pedalo (Kirpatrick MacMillan – inventor of the bicycle and honoured by the footbridge) 
The Dragon Slayer (.. St Michael’s Bridge at the top of the park)
The Tweed Rose (Rosefield Tweed Mills on the opposite bank) 

The Rosefield Mills featured as part of one of Lisa Gallaher’s pieces made for TDRM: Dumfries during InBetween Dumfries. Working with local artist Evelyn Gray, Lisa produced a tweed coat incorporating Evelyn’s sketches of the mills…

 The two week long youth festival coinciding with the school holidays was envisioned to shape how the park as a public space could be used by the good folk of Dumfries, and the re-instate the park within the psyche or awareness of the town, as opposed to a periphery space. 

With the park’s Victorian history, could a new fashion for a contemporary promenading culture be re-invented?

promenade (ˌprɒməˈnɑːd) 
 — n 1. chiefly ( Brit ) a public walk, esp at a seaside resort 
2. a leisurely walk, esp one in a public place for pleasure or display 
3. ( US ), ( Canadian ) a ball or formal dance at a high school or college 
4. a marchlike step in dancing 
5. a marching sequence in a square or country dance 

 [C16: from French, from promener to lead out for a walk, from Late Latin prōmināre to drive (cattle) along, from pro- 1 + mināre to drive, probably from minārī to threaten] 

On walking around the park, The Drying Ground particularly caught my interest – as Glasgow City Council looks to impose new rules on the use of their public parks, with Drying Grounds clearly outlawed: 

” 11.1 No one shall in any park, except with the prior written consent of the Director: 

 (f) hang linen or other material, beat, shake, sweep, brush or cleanse any carpet, rug, mat or other article. “

The full list of proposed banned activities includes organised sports, gatherings of more than 18 people, walking more than 4 dogs and outdoor education – a full and interesting article on the A Thousand Flowers blog.

The importance on non-commercial public spaces, and their benefit to town and city life not just in terms of regenerating the surrounding areas but also in creating spaces (and therefore towns) where people want to be is discussed by Animal Behaviourist turned City Planner for NYC, Amanda Burden in her recent TED talk (available here) 

As groups like the Incredible Edible‘s continue to promote and grow a greener vision for the town, how can the parks play an active role in this? How do these public spaces become once again instilled as part of the townscapes’ sense of self? As 100 High Street remains closed for the time being, do keep an eye out for the Stove in exile throughout the town over the next few months, and if this great weather continues, we can maybe reconvene our meetings in the park.. 

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