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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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