We (SearchScotland.Org) attended the launch of the Greenock Town Heritage Trail on Tuesday the 9th of July. The weather was glorious and Greenock did live up to its name of sunny bay in Gaelic (Grianaig) with the sun beating down and temperatures averaging at 25 degrees Celsius. There was a cruise ship in called the Sea Princess too, carrying passengers from Australia and New Zealand. Many joined in the celebrations of the launch.
A wee bit about the Trail:
The Greenock Town Trail is made up of 21 plaques which are situated in pavements across the central area of Greenock, highlighting historic locations in the town as well as famous local people in Greenock’s past, notably James Watt and Abram Lyle.
The trail was put together by Discover Inverclyde and the Inverclyde Tourist Group with help from local historians and Inverclyde Council and with the majority of funding coming from the Council’s Community Facilities Fund. The Trail is a fascinating insight into the area’s past and historical significance to the area, Scotland and even to the rest of the world.
The ceremony began with a few opening words from one of the directors of Discover Inverclyde, Chris Jewell. Those present then heard speeches from 2 of Greenock’s famous sons; James Watt (the inventor) and Abram Lyle (former provost and owner of Tate and Lyle sugar). They were obviously actors but the audience including the tourists loved the sentiment it brought to the proceedings. There were a few comic gags too, like Abram Lyle having to remove his hat because of the heat on the day. I can’t imagine those stuffy 19th century mayoral robes to be that comfortable, regardless of the heat.
The event took part outside of the Dutch Gable House (the second oldest house in Greenock) and the trail was formally launched by the current Provost, Robert Moran, unveiling the plaque commemorating the house and the history of William Street. The trail was then kick started thanks to Eleanor Robertson of the Inverclyde Tourist group, who conducted a short tour of 4 of the plaques in the area which included the Fire Station Museum and the monument in Clyde Square. All this was free and it went down a treat with both locals and tourists alike.
Aside from the tour, there were other costumed participants which included historical firemen and Gaelic women in traditional dress. Visitors were impressed with the brilliance of all the costumes and props like the 18th century fire wagon. The icing on the cake was the Gaelic Waulking songs in the Dutch Gable sung by the Greenock Gaelic Choir.
Overall the event went down very well indeed inspiring many to take part in the trail. If you are interested you can download the pdf of the Trail leaflet at the bottom of this article or get a copy from your local library, The McLean Museum and various shops. Please also visit the town during Doors Open Days in September, where guided walking tours of the full Trail will be conducted.