Clackmannanshire Tapestry

Clackmannanshire Tapestry

To raise the profile of volunteering in Clackmannanshire, CTSI decided back in 2017 that it needed an event to focus on the role of volunteering and the value it was serving to the local area. Seeing an opportunity at the Speirs Centre (the county library and registrar office), where the soon-to-be archive room was still lying empty, Anthea Coulter, the new Chief Officer got in touch with the Great Tapestry of Scotland team to see if a visit to Alloa could be arranged and so at the end of May 2017, CTSI in partnership with Clackmannanshire Council brought the Great Tapestry of Scotland to the Speirs Centre, supported by the National Heritage Lottery.
CTSI engaged over 70 volunteers to man the event wearing their distinctive purple T-shirts for the first time. The exhibition brought hundreds of people to the town to visit and listen to the accompanying historical talks and attend workshops, as well as involving schools, and raised over £4000 for local charities.

Next Stitch to the Tapestries...

However, many of the volunteers and local visitors noticed that Clackmannanshire itself was not featured at all in the Tapestries and there was a call to right that wrong. Anthea got in touch with Andrew Crummy, the designer and he agreed  – and so evolved the new Clackmannanshire Tapestries. 
 
In 2019,  with the support again of the National Heritage Lottery, CTSI started a process on consulting with communities and local people through a Roadshow held at 13 venues on what should be depicted at the heart of the new Tapestries. From this local feedback and in agreement with Andrew, the story of the industries of Clackmannanshire came to life and hundreds of other ideas were put forward to include in the tapestries.
Next CTSI held events to encourage volunteer stitchers to come forward  –  and 38 women and one man formed the five new groups – the Brewers, Miners, Glassblowers, Weavers and Knitters. Just before lockdown in January 2019, the groups came together for their first ‘Blether’ at the Speirs to share their work, challenges and ideas.
Since then they have continued through lockdown to meet online, build friendships and pass the tapestry over the wall in gardens or at doorsteps. The work has not stopped and it is hoped that by  late 2021 the Tapestries will be complete.  Alongside this, Susan Mills, a member of Clackmannanshire Heritage Trust has help coordinate a series of talks on the industries and these will continue through 2021.
Meanwhile, the job of finding a permanent home for them has also continued. Now the former public toilet in Alloa just a stones-throw from the Speirs Centre is being developed to provide that base and it is hoped will be the inspiration and historical starting point for people visiting the county, alongside offering active travel and  other tourist information. Underway is also the development of a handbook to accompany the new Tapestries in collaboration with the Clackmannanshire Heritage Trust. 
 
For further information, please contact Anthea Coulter, Chief Officer & Business Manager at anthea.coulter@ctsi.org.uk

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