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Gala Water Lockdown Memories booklet published in Stow

  • Date published: 01/12/20
  • Related fund: Longpark

On the 23rd of March, the Gala Water Valley (comprising the village of Stow, Fountainhall and surrounding areas in the Scottish Borders) went into lockdown as a result of the coronavirus Pandemic.

The Gala Water History and Heritage Association (GWHHA) usually spends its time gathering and cataloguing historical memorabilia which make up the Stow Parish Archive.  Realising the seismic effect of the pandemic, GWWHA volunteers embarked on a ‘live capture’ of residents’ experiences, to help the community come to terms with the situation and create a lasting memory of a key moment in local history.

GWHHA has now published a booklet documenting the “Reflections and Hopes” which emerged from residents during lockdown. The booklet contains images and comments about the Gala Water lockdown donated by local community members.  Printed copies have been distributed to ‘Friends of the Archive’, can be purchased locally, and the booklet is freely available on the Stow Parish Archive website and Facebook page 
Residents have been extremely complimentary.

“We are very pleased with it - it got to version 10 before we were happy with it - and we are getting some very positive feedback which makes all the preparation worthwhile!” 


Jessica Troughton, GWHHA committee member

The EDF Longpark Community Fund has supported GWHHA’s work since 2012.  Grants totalling £74,595 have supported the costs of the sole staff member, a Community Archivist who has worked with local volunteers to catalogue almost 2,000 photographs, postcards, books, account records, maps, audio stories and other items of local memorabilia donated into the Archive.  In normal times the Archive in Stow Town Hall is open throughout the week for residents and visitors, and a searchable catalogue on the Archive website opens up the area’s heritage to people across the world.  GWHHA regularly shares historical photos on its Facebook page.

Pre-lockdown, GWHHA also ran weekly coffee mornings providing a social space enabling a growing number of older residents to socialise, share memories, and discuss items of memorabilia which then go into the Archive. The Archivist, Mary Craig, is also credited with taking forward and successfully delivering a range of initiatives, events and outreach work with the three local primary schools. When lockdown kicked in, she rapidly created online learning materials about historical medicines, which teachers and pupils loved. Additionally (although not funded by the EDF Longpark Fund), the Archivist has also written books about witchcraft in the area and a history of Stow village.

A new two-year grant from the EDF Longpark Fund will support ongoing Archive work alongside a brand new ‘Forts and castles’ project. Volunteers, landowners and school children will be involved in surveying and photographing sites of old castles, ultimately creating a digital map of forts and castles along the Gala Water Valley.

What a lovely positive thing to muse over instead of the general gloom and doom that can swamp these challenging times.  Although the booklet is looking back on people's experiences, in a way it is a hopeful thing for the future in that it is saying ‘this is a historical event we are living through but it will pass’. The booklet is beautifully put together and I imagine a lot of work went in behind the scenes