Friday, 30 November 2012

It's Been a While...

It's been a busy few weeks here at Identity HQ, so please excuse the lack up updates here on the blog. The team recently had an experience that allowed us all to identify with project on a more personal level, that's right we too are all migrants. We recently took the difficult decision to uproot ourselves from our home in Port Glasgow, a place where the project has been based for the best part of eighteen months, and migrated  down the River Clyde to the picturesque town of Greenock... Okay, so we didn't arrive fresh off a boat from famine stricken Ireland, but our experience is sort of similar. We did have to move some heavy boxes, that was tiring... Maybe I'm clutching at straws here.

Despite all the upheaval, our volunteer group have still been meeting twice per week, and are rather close to completing their scrapbook project, which shall be titled 'Kith and Kin'.

We are also working very hard to gather interviews, stories and pictures to be uploaded to the new Identity website which will be launched at the beginning of 2013.

Until then, here is a sneak peak of one of many videos tat will be appearing on it.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween from all the team here at Identity HQ!

So take a break from carving your pumpkins and preparing candied apples to learn a little bit more about the history of Halloween, and its impact on Inverclyde.

A Highland Halloween

Now, I'm away to practice dookin' for apples.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Scrapbook Update!

A little while ago we mentioned on the blog that we were were working closely with our volunteer group with the hope of producing a scrapbook detailing their family stories.

The Identity Team are happy to announce that the project is making great progress, and is nearing completion. We expect to have our final draft completed within the next few weeks. 

But until then, here's an exclusive sneak peak at a few of the pages:

Monday, 8 October 2012

National Poetry Day 2012

With so much going on at Identity HQ, it slipped out mind that Thursday 4th October marked National Poetry Day. So to celebrate (although belatedly) we are going to have a look at some poetry about Inverclyde and the surrounding area. 

The Identity project is all about people passing through Greenock, some staying with their traditions and stories, others moving on elsewhere. Someone who passed through Greenock on his "Highland Tour" was the Romantic poet, William Wordsworth, in his short stay, here is what he had to say about the town:

We have not passed into a doleful City,
We who were led to-day down a grim dell,
By some too boldly named “the Jaws of Hell”
Where be the wretched ones, the sights for pity?
These crowded streets resound no plaintive ditty
As from the hive where bees in summer dwell,
Sorrow seems here excluded; and that knell,
It neither damps the gay, nor checks the witty.
Alas! too busy Rival of old Tyre,
Whose merchants Princes were, whose decks were thrones; 

Soon may the punctual sea in vain respire
To serve thy need, in union with that Clyde
Whose nursling current brawls o’er mossy stones,
The poor, the lonely, herdsman’s joy and pride.

Another poet who wrote about Greenock was W. D. Cocker. In the following poem he manages to pain a VERY accurate image of Greenock.

The Greenock Man

“ Saft a wee, ” says Erchie.
“ Saft a wee! ” says I;
“ I’m draiglet an’ I’m drookit,
An’ ma sark’s no dry.
It’s rainin’ like a skailin’ bine,
It’s stottin’ frae the street,
The sheuch is rinnin’ ower in spate,
It’s weet, gey weet.
I hae some imagination
But I’m fairly bate to say
What fearsome flude you folk would ca’
A richt wat day.”

Taking a wee trip down the coast we come across John Joy Bell, who writes about Gourock:

Gourock Lights

Lookin' out across the water when 'tis dark as dark can be,
When there's not a whiff o' wind to break the stillness o' the sea,
When the air is clear an' frosty— 'tis the cheerfulest o' sights
To behold the scores an' hundreds o' the twinklin' Gourock lights!

'Tis a long, long string o' di'monds, needin' nought to make 'em shine,
But ye never seen a duchess wearin' di'monds half so fine !
'Tis as if the ch'icest stars o' heav'n had dropped to deck the shore—
Oh, I've counted 'em, an' counted 'em, an' still was plenty more.

If I was a simple stranger, sure I'd say the sparklin' string
Was some rare illumination for the crownin' o' a king.
But whene'er I spies the Gourock lights a-twinklin' fast an' free,
Why, I never thinks but what the lights is twinklin' there for me!

I meets a dismal chap one night. He groans an' says, "Alas !
Tis sad to think them twinklin' lights is made o' stinkin' gas."
Says I— "Ye topsy-turvy soul, why don't ye sing o' nights
Because the stinkin' gas does make them twinklin' Gourock lights?" 

We hope you enjoyed this brief journey through the history of Inverclyde through poetry. Stay tuned later on the week for more. 

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

New developments for the Identity project

The Identity project is going through some exciting new developments at the moment and we felt it important to share it with you!

We have a new member of the team with us who will be working with our existing staff towards our various potential new projects in the near future.

As well as our new team member, the Identity team will be moving to a new office in Greenock. We will soon be based in Greenock’s Westburn Centre at 175 Dalrymple Street. This move will be commencing over the next week or so but we can still be contacted at our current base at 7 ½ John Wood Street, Port Glasgow.

Perhaps the most exciting development is our new projects. We are currently in negotiation with various Inverclyde schools to work on a number of new and dynamic projects focussing on Inverclyde’s long and rich history.

As is expected from Identity, Inverclyde school pupils will have a very active role in their development and delivery, helping us to further the aims of our group in delivering informative and inspiring projects for the area.

Keep an eye on this blog and our Facebook and Twitter feeds for more information in the near future. 

Monday, 24 September 2012

Graphic Novel - Zarjaz

Photo courtesy of Robert Burns Photography
Thanks to Grahame Gallacher at the Greenock Telegraph, the Archivist's Treasure Graphic Novel got an unexpected boost this week...a thumbs up from John Wagner, the 2000AD writer and creator of classic comic strip Judge Dredd!

Grahame was interviewing the comic writer about his teenage years in Greenock and the release of the new Judge Dredd film, and decided to take a copy of our graphic novel along on the day to pass to the comic industry legend.

In a piece in Saturday's telegraph, Mr Wagner described the book as "a wonderful piece of work...exactly what the comic strip medium should be used for."

We are so pleased that the hard work of everyone involved in the Identity project has been recognised in this way that we aren't even going to pretend to be cool about it.

The Archivist's Treasure can still be picked up from 7 1/2 John Wood Street in Port Glasgow, and The Dutch Gable House in Greenock. It can also be read online at graphicly, or downloaded via amazon and ibooks.

Now to get working on a strip where Judge Dredd wanders into the archive...

Photo courtesy of Robert Burns Photography

*zarjaz is 2000AD slang for fantastic

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Graphic Novel - Romans

A final preview page from our Graphic Novel, so now you just have to come and pick one up for real this weekend as part of Doors Open Day at The Dutch Gable House. Looking forward to seeing you there...

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Graphic Novel - John Davidson

Here's another page from our Graphic Novel, launching next weekend. Not long now...

We also have a piece about the project and some other preview pages over on The Scottish Book Trust blog as part of their My Favourite Place programme.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Graphic Novel - Cover Reveal

In search of answers for a school project, John and Jenna follow the mysterious Archivist into his labyrinth of objects, stories and memories.

As he guides them through hundreds of years of Inverclyde's heritage, John and Jenna uncover the area's forgotten past, and find the truth at the heart of The Archivist's Treasure...

The Archivist's Treasure will be released on Saturday September 8th, launching at The Dutch Gable House as part of Doors Open Day.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Olympic Fever

Here at Identity HQ we have been hit with a severe case of Olympic fever. Since the games kicked off last week “Team ID” have been glued to the coverage of Team GB, as they rocket up the medal table.

With Andy Murray claiming a gold medal in the men’s tennis final, and silver in the mixed doubles final, we couldn’t help but notice the contribution that Scotland has made to the games. The Scots have boasted five gold medals, two silver and one bronze medal (at time of writing) at London 2012, (meaning that the nation would currently stand in eighth place if we were entered separately from the UK) across an array of events including; rowing, canoeing, cycling, swimming, gymnastics and tennis. With a little over a week to go at the games, the team here at Identity HQ are sure a few more medals will be won by our athletes.

Scotland has had its share of famous Olympians, Sir Chris Hoy, Katherine Granger, and Allan Wells, are just a few of the Scots on a seemingly endless list to cement their place in Olympic history in their respective fields.

However this post is set to focus on one of the Scotland most famous Olympians who happens to have a connection with Greenock, Eric Liddell.

Now, those of you who have seen the movie Chariots of Fire will know the story of Eric Liddell (and I’m sure you’re all humming the soundtrack right now). But for those of you, who are not aware of Liddell’s story, allow us to tell you.

Eric Henry Liddell was born January 16, 1902 in Tientsin, North China to parents Rev. and Mrs. James Dunlop Liddell who were missionaries in the country as members of the London Mission Society. Eric was educated at Eltham College until 1920 when he moved north to Edinburgh University where he worked towards a BSc in Pure Science.

It was while at Edinburgh University that Eric discovered his love for sport.  He was a fantastic runner and competed in the 100 yards and the 220 yard dash for Edinburgh University, his talents were so highly thought of that he would later go on to represent Scotland in these events. He was also a keen rugby player and played regularly for the university team. In a similar way to athletics, Erics talents shone through, and he was chosen to represent the Scottish national team on seven occasions.

Image Courtesy of 
Unfortunately for Eric, he was unable to compete in both Rugby and athletics due to the lack of time in his schedule. A decision had to be made, and Eric opted to pursue running over rugby. It was here that Liddell set himself a goal: to compete in the 100 meters at the 1924 Paris Olympic games. However, upon the release of the race schedules Eric opted out of the 100 meters due to the heats taking place on a Sunday. Due to his religious beliefs he believed that Sundays were a day of rest, and he was not prepared to take part on the Sabbath. Instead Liddell chose to compete in the 400 meter competition, however many people doubted he would have the stamina and skill to compete in the race.

It is here that we can tie the story of Eric Liddell to Greenock. Cappielow, the home ground of Greenock Morton Football Club, has been used for other purposes then football over the years. It was often used as a race track, and it has even been rumoured to have at one point been home to one or two sheep, who used to graze upon the grass, and keep it nice and short! Greenock Glenpark Harriers, a local athletics club, held an annual sports meeting at Cappielow from the early 1920s though to the 30s, and were successful in attracting a large number of spectators and competitors to their meetings each year.

Eric Liddell was one of those many competitors who participated in the Harriers meetings while touring with the Canadian Olympic team before the 1924 Paris Olympics. In one of Liddell’s biographies he relates how, in the usual fashion before starting blocks were used in sprint races he used his trowel to dig his starting holes in the cinder track at the start of the 100 yards race. After winning the race he walked back up the sprint straight to retrieve his trowel, only to find it missing from the grass edge where he has left it, and realised that it has been stolen. He said it was the only time in his long career of competing throughout England and Scotland that this had happened to him.

Despite the theft of his trowel, Liddell went on to compete at the 1924 Olympic Games and won a gold medal in the 400 meter competition (breaking the Olympic world record with a time of 47.6 seconds) as well as a bronze medal for the 200 meters.

Video courtesy of The Eric Liddell Centre

Later in 1924, after the Olympics the Greenock Glenpark Harriers held another race meeting at Cappielow Park, this time featuring athletes that had participated in the Paris Olympic Games. Eric Liddell was one of the competitors that were scheduled to participate at the event. It is believed that in excess of four thousand people turned up at the stadium just to see Liddell and his Olympic Gold Medal.

Liddell returned to Cappielow for the annual athletics meeting in 1925, this time he presented the Glenpark Harriers with a trophy, the ‘Eric Liddell Challenge Trophy’ which can be seen today at the Mclean Museum 

After he graduated Liddell returned to china where he served as a missionary from 1925 – 1943. In 1932 he followed in his fathers footsteps and became a minister.

Living in China was extremely dangerous in the 1930s and 1940s, by 1941 World War Two was at it’s peak with the USA Declaring war on Japan, as a result of this  the British Government instructed all British Nationals to leave the country, Liddell opted to stay, however he sent his wife and daughters to Canada. In 1943 he was taken by Japanese forces presenting China to the Weishien internment camp. Sadly Eric Liddell would pass away in 1945 as a result of a brain tumour.

Today the name Eric Liddell is one known and celebrated around the world, many believe him to be a superb example of someone who lived out the Olympic ideals while upholding the Olympic motto, "Citius, Altius, Fortius" which means, "Swifter, Higher, Stronger", throughout his life.

Monday, 30 July 2012

New Project Under Way

There's been some exciting new developments here at Identity HQ.

That's a LOT of paper!
Over the past few weeks members of the Identity team have been transforming the walls of our office into a giant collage of family stories.

There's more in the back room too!

Our volunteer group have been working on tracing their family tree over the past five months, and have uncovered some interesting stories about their past. 

Some blank space on the side walls... Not for long.

We are planning on taking these stories and transforming them in to a scrapbook over the coming months, so keep your eyes peeled for further developments. 

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Identity Drama: Mysterious Video Unearthed

Last month THE TRUST took the HERITAGE LOTTERY funded project Identity to the iconic Greenock Sugar Sheds. 

Over 300 people came to see the show across three performances, hearing real stories of the migrant communities who passed through our area over the centuries. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, and we're delighted that people came along and enjoyed it. However we understand that there are some people out there who were unable to attend the event and have enquired about a possibility of it being available on DVD.

Well, good news! We have been informed that Identity: The Drama will be available on DVD later this year. So stay tuned for more information in the coming months. 

However for those of you unable to wait any longer for a sneak peak, one of the archivists at Identity HQ received a mysterious video package containing footage from that historic night.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Identity Promo Trailer

We have just uploaded our new Identity Promo Video to our youtube page. However, we thought we would post it here for all our loyal readers.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

The Archivist's Treasure

The Archivist...he knows what you did last century...
After last week's drama performance, the rest of the Identity project now continues apace...

We're delighted to announce we'll be launching the Graphic Novel written by ourselves and local schools on Saturday 8 September in The Dutch Gable House as part of Doors Open Day. Don't worry, we'll remind you the meantime here's a few wee sneaky panel previews.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Royal Visit

In order to celebrate Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (the first of Scotland) Diamond Jubilee, the Identity team have been having a look in to Inverclyde’s Royal past. The region has played host to numerous Royal visits over the years, and on July 4 2012 the banks of the Clyde will once again welcome her with open arms.

So allow us to take you on something of a brief tour of previous visits.

1917 Visit

In 1917, King George V embarked on a tour of the merchant shipyards, marine engine builders and steel mills in the UK. Four days were spent in the west of Scotland.

At 10.00am on the 17th of September, he and his entourage arrived in Greenock Central Station. By 1.00pm they had finished with Greenock and drove to Upper Greenock Railway Station where, no doubt, they had lunch aboard the Royal train.

At 2.10pm the Royal pilot engine passed through Port Glasgow Passenger Station (as it was referred to in the newspaper report) - no other engine was permitted to be between the pilot engine and the Royal train, which arrived at 2.27, pulled by two engines.

Peter MacFarlane, Provost, and Andrew Paton, Town Clerk, were presented to the King. And “on emerging from the station,” said the Port Express, “a joyful sight presented itself to the King - the Star Hotel was brightly adorned with flags and bunting, and presented a noble appearance.”

The procession went down John Wood Street and along Bay Street to Blackstone. When he called at Glasgow City Chambers on the following day, the crowds were kept away “at a respectful” distance.” There seems to have been no such restriction in Port Glasgow and the narrow streets were lined with school children waving flags.

The tour started at the Clyde Shipbuilding and Engineering Co, followed by a short walk round to Ferguson’s. On leaving Ferguson’s they drove back along the town to Murdoch & Murray’s yard opposite Jean Street, then further along to Russell & Co at the Kingston Yard. The tour ended at the yard of Dunlop & Bremner immediately west of Kingston. The scheduled completion time was 4.35pm.

At each yard the King spent 20 minutes. This covered presentations, conversations and looking at examples of the work carried out, from smithys and joiner shops, to completed vessels. A fair degree of planning must have been carried out beforehand. After presentations and introductions in the Town’s Buildings, the Royal train left for Glasgow at 5.00pm.

1958 Visit

The town of Port Glasgow welcomed Queen Elizabeth II to her shores once more in 1958 for what would be Inverclydes third Royal Visit (the second having come in 1947).

Although the visit was a brief one (lasting around 7minutes) the Queen still found time to meet with Provost Edward Docherty and various members of the town council.

Later in the afternoon Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh would move on to Greenock for a brief stop. Her purpose in the town was to mark the opening of the town’s municipal buildings, an act she will repeat when she visits the town on the July 4, fifty four years later.

This was the monarch’s first visit to the area since her coronation in 1953, however it was not the first time she had visited these shores. She had accompanied her father to the town on two previous visits under the title of ‘Princess Elizabeth’ in 1947.

1976 Visit

Royal family stop over in Greenock in august of this year aboard the MHY Britannia. Although the visit was a brief one, local men, women, and children gathered in great numbers to get a glimpse of Queen Elizabeth, the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles, Prince Edward, Prince Andrew and Princess Anne.

1992 Visit

In December of 1992, Queen Elizabeth II visited the historic Fergusons shipbuilders in Port Glasgow to mark the launch of the 1986gt tender, Pharos.

2000 Visit

The Queens most recent visit to Port Glasgow came twelve years ago in August 2000. Her destination this time was Ferguson shipyards in Port Glasgow to launch the vessel MV Hebredes.

Copyright John Crae
July 2012 Visit

On Wednesday July 4, Inverclyde once again welcomes the Queen as part of her Diamond Jubilee tour of Scotland. Her Majesty will mark the opening of the new Customer Service Centre located in the towns historic Municipal Buildings. As previously mentioned, the Queen marked the opening of these buildings in 1958, so a royal visit to mark the grand reopening is considered something of a coup for the town.

Municipal Buildings 1976

There will be space for members of the public to see this landmark event, however it is believed that space will be limited. But fear not, those of you who are unable to get a space at Clyde Square will still get your chance to see her as the royal motorcade will drive through the Esplanade and Dalrymple Street.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Drama at the Sugar Sheds

Yesterday was our Identity Drama at the Sugar Sheds in Greenock. It's been the main focus of the project over the last month in particular. Running a big event, especially in a historic, A listed building like the Sugar Sheds has been...nerve wracking to say the least...but yesterday made it all worthwhile.

Over 200 people came to see the show across three performances, hearing real stories of the migrant communities who passed through our area over the centuries. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, and we're delighted that people came along and enjoyed it.

Of course, the performance was just the culmination of months of work, and as well as involvement and learning in terms of local heritage, almost everyone involved behind the scenes was able to get practical experience and National Qualifications.
  • 11 pupils at St Columba's High School achieved an NQ in Creative Writing
  • 21 Pupils at St Stephens High School achieved NQs in Film and Media or Animation 
  • 20 pupils also achieved ASDAN Awards
The project's Future Jobs employees worked alongside project volunteers and young people involved with the project outside of school, to achieve National Qualifications as well.
  • 21 achieved NQ Event Management 
  • 15 achieved NQ Dramatic Performance 
Sgioba Luaidh Inbhirchluaidh backstage
We have filmed the performance and rehearsals throughout the week, so will be editing it together to make it available online at some point in the future. We've also had many requests already to "take the show on the road" around other community venues in Inverclyde - we'll look into the practicalities of this over the summer.

A great day was had by everyone involved, and for us, it's also been an opportunity to work with other agencies like Riverside Inverclyde and Inverclyde Council to help create local employment, learning and involvement in our heritage.

Thank you very much to everyone who came along to support us or took part on the day.

You can see a gallery of images from the event over on Inverclyde Now.

Our wonderful cast between performances

Monday, 25 June 2012

Get Your Tickets Now!

The Identity Drama is on in the historic Sugar Sheds building and tickets are available ALL WEEK, and they are FREE! Show times are 4 o'clock and again at 7 o'clock this Thursday the 28th of June. Tickets are limited and are on a first come first served basis, so rush down to 7 1/2 John Wood street as soon as possible to collect yours today!

Attendees MUST ARRIVE VIA OUR PROVIDED TRANSPORT, it is also free, but once everyone claims a ticket they will choose a location suitable to them to be picked up via bus, and then returned to that location after the show.

For more information or any questions please email or phone 71/2 John Wood Street at 01475 806 760

We look forward to seeing you all there on Thursday the 28th in the Sugar Sheds!

Friday, 15 June 2012


Those of you who have been following us on facebook may have noticed a teasing message relating to something ‘BIG’ being announced next week. However, at Identity HQ we just can’t contain our excitement any more…

We are pleased to announce that we have been successful in securing the Sugar Sheds as the official venue for Identity: The Drama, which will take place on Thursday June 28.

Tickets will be available as of next week and can be obtained from 7 1/2 John Wood Street. For more information contact our office on 01475 806 760, or email us at

With Identity: The Drama premiering at the Sugar Sheds on June 28, we feel it would be nice to have a quick look back at the buildings, and the sugar industry in Greenock.

The roots of the sugar industry in Inverclyde date back to 1765 when a German businessman by the name of Mark Khull erected the towns first sugar house, located in what was known as Sugarhouse Lane. This business venture was to prove successful as Khull eventually opened a second house not far from his premier building. The success of Khulls ventures can be seen when examining the 1791-99 Statistical Accounts for Scotland with the town importing 81,074 cwts of unprocessed sugar.

It wasn’t long before the success was noticed and other businessmen caught on to the idea and by 1845 there were around eleven sugar refineries in the town, providing employment for over three hundred and fifty people with a yearly output of 14,000 tons of raw sugar. It is believed those who worked in the refineries worked a ten hour day with men receiving a weekly wage of 16s, and boys 5s.

The Sugar Sheds as we see them today were originally owned by Messers James Farrie & Co, however they were not Farries original premises in the town. In fact, the original location of the refinery was just across the street from where the buildings now stand. This building, located at Crawfordsdyke (present day Cartsdyke) bridge (as seen in above picture), was build in 1809 and operated for a number of years before it was greatly expanded to the large warehouses that we see today.

So join us on June 28 at the Sugar Sheds for a viewing of the drama in one of the towns oldest, and most revered buildings. 

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

And the Winner is...

Earlier in the year the Identity team gave Morton fans a fantastic opportunity to win a 1979 replica jersey. After many weeks, and a mountain of emails we finally chose our winner.

So congratulations to out lucky winner Mark Touzeau, who was absolutely delighted with his prize. "It's absolutely fantastic, the shirt is from the year I was born which makes it even better." Mark also keeps up to date with our blog stating "I read the blog regularly, I particularly liked the post about Moses McDonald and the hangings."

We hope to see Mark sporting his new jersey at Cappielow next season.