The Story Box, a new community-led oral history archive, was launched today, Thursday 18th May in Alyth Market Square.
Alyth Primary School youngsters opening The Story Box with one of their songs
The box was opened by Dorothy Lothian, the oldest contributor to the archive, who recounts tales of her rural childhood during World War II, along with the youngest contributor, from the P1 class of Alyth Primary School.
Dorothy Lothian opening the Box with Alyth Primary School’s youngest member of their P1 class
Set to help revitalise the town after the devastating flooding of July 2015, The Story Box contains more than 100 stories, songs and poems about the town’s present, it’s past and even it’s future.
Housed in an iconic red telephone box, the archive tells remarkable stories of the people of Alyth from pre-history, through to the present day and into the future.
They include tales of the Picts from pre-history and the monks of Alyth’s 5th century Church; stories of the past lives of the farming folk of the fertile Strathmore Valley and of the people, industry and shops of this once thriving market town.
The stories also paint an audio portrait of the present day people and how the remarkable community spirit of this town helped it survive the devastating flash flood of July 2015.
The future of Alyth is told through imagined stories and songs written by the young people of the town recorded during digital and sound technology workshops run by the project in Alyth Primary School and Alyth Youth Partnership.
Marian Bruce with Rory Gianni who designed all the technology
Project Designer, Producer and Alyth resident Marian Bruce said “After 3 years of planning we are thrilled to be launching our time-travel phone box in Alyth. The project has really caught the imagination of the town. We have already collected more than 100 stories, songs and poems about the past through to the future of Alyth and the project will continue to gather more stories over the next 18 months of the project.”
Amanda Blakeman, Chair of Alyth Community Council
Amanda Blakeman, Chair of Alyth Community Council, who set the challenge to the people of Alyth to find a use for the de-commissioned box said: “The Story Box is a real asset for the town which will give a boost to the community after the long recovery we have endured since the devastating flood of July 2015.”
The Story Box is one of three projects launching Cateran’s Common Wealth, a new initiative in Eastern Perthshire which is using one of Scotland’s hidden gems, the Cateran Trail, as a stage for a multi-year programme of diverse arts, cultural and heritage activities and events aimed at inspiring people to think about and celebrate our ‘common wealth’ (www.commonculture.org.uk).
Clare Cooper, one of its Co-Producers described the project as “A unique community-led arts project which celebrates the history, heritage and culture of a very special place and which will help bring new tourism business to this beautiful part of Perthshire.”
The Story Box project has been supported through significant in-kind donations from individuals and businesses in Alyth and funding has been secured for it and two other projects which are part of the Cateran’s Common Wealth programme in 2017 from Creative Scotland, Alyth Community Council, The Drumderg Windfarm Community Fund, The Gannochy Trust, The Heritage Lottery Fund, The People’s Postcode Lottery Fund, Rural Perth & Kinross LEADER programme, Perth & Kinross Council, Scotmid Community Fund and the St James Place Foundation.
Carol Downie, Chief Executive of the Gannochy Trust said: “The Story Box is an unusual project which has involved many young people in an inspiring way and brought a new amenity to Alyth which is still recovering from the devastating 2015 flood. We are glad to have been able to support it and wish the project every success.”
Explaining the importance of the Rural Perth & Kinross LEADER support, Jackie Brierton the LAG chair said; “The award of £41,761 towards this community initiative is one of a number benefitting from the £3.8 million share of LEADER and Scottish Government funds available for rural communities and enterprise in Perthshire until 2020. This is a creative and imaginative way to highlight Alyth’s history and heritage and we are pleased we have been able to support it.”
Lindsay Dougan, SSE Community Funds Manager said ‘SSE is delighted the Drumderg wind farm Fund could support this excellent project. The archive will help share the history of Alyth with a new audience.’
The Story Box is produced in partnership with the people of Alyth, with digital and sound technology artists and designers from Fleet Collective, Dundee and NEoN (North East of North), Dundee, who run Scotland’s only digital arts festival, Perth and Kinross Countryside Trust and Culture Perth and Kinross.
Donna Holford-Lovell of North East of North (NEoN) with Rory Gianni