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.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

National Qualifications

In September 2011, the Trust offered a group of pupils from St. Stephens High School the opportunity to achieve a National qualification in Film and Media. As part of the course pupils were required to attend James Watt College for a period of time in order to learn the basics of Electronic News Gathering in conjunction with the technical aspects of film making.

Interview skills were also taught to the pupils as they would be required to interview members of the community on their family history, and where they came from. Once this training was completed the pupils spent sixteen weeks out in the community visiting primary schools in order to use their newly obtained skills to record historical stories which would then be transcribed and saved on to a community archive so that future generations can obtain a picture of what the region was like many years ago.

While this was going on the Trust also offered a group of pupils from St Columba’s High school the uppertunity to achieve a National Qualification in Creative Writing. They attended a series of workshops facilitated by industry professional Dan McCahon, who for sixteen weeks tutored them in the art of scriptwriting with the end goal being a completed drama showing the roots of Inverclyde, and how all the different groups of people who make up Inverclyde arrived here, and how they lived or struggled to survive.

Once the script was completed it was then passed to a troupe of actors to be transformed in to a live community performance which would result in those participating obtaining a National Qualification in Drama.

To aid with the Drama, the Trust also offered a National Qualification in Animation, which would see students working towards the creation of animated backdrops for the final community performance. 

So keep your eyes peeled for further announcements regarding “IDENTITY: THE DRAMA”
What we can tell you is that it will launch on June 28, 2012, and promises to take you on a fantastic journey in to Inverclydes rich history.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Moses McDonald - The 200 Year Anniversary

Tuesday June 5 marks a historic yet dark date in the history of Greenock. This ancient little town has had a something of a colourful history, playing host to one of the busiest ports in the British Empire as well as welcoming migrants from around the world with open arms. However, as with any town with a rich colourful history there are often dark shady undertones. With such a diverse population it was clear that a number of the less affluent townsfolk would turn to crime in order to make ends meet. Unfortunately for these folk the law did not take kindly to such simple things as robbery and ultimately, those who strayed from the law were arranged to meet the hangman.

The tale of Moses McDonald is an unfortunate one indeed. Arrested for the crime of stealing from the grocer Mr. James Jelly on December 1811, McDonald, who we believe did not act alone, was left to suffer the consequences of his actions through a method that would ultimately end his life. And on what did the event occur I hear you ask, why it was the June 5, 1812.

Moses McDonald had been employed at the quay as a labourer. One December evening in 1811, McDonald, along with companion John Gray broke in to a grocers shop on Harvie Lane, owned by a Mr. James Jolly. Between them they managed to gather; a chest and a half of tea, eighteen cheeses, half a ton of beer, bacon, hams, butter and provisions, together with £4in silver and £2 in Irish fivepenny, tenpenny and two and sixpenny bank tokens. It is obvious that a robbery of this required more than two men, as well as the aid of a horse and cart. A bounty of £50 was placed upon their heads, and ultimately McDonald was arrested.
McDonald's statement giving his whereabouts at the time the robbery took place
The case was heard at Glasgow Circuit Court of Justiciary in April 1812, where Gray pleaded guilty and was sentenced to be transported “beyond seas to such places as his Majesty, by and the advice of his Privy Council, shall appoint.” McDonald on the other hand, was not so fortunate and was sentenced to be hung on Friday, 5th June, 1812.

Four companies of the Ayrshire Militia from Paisley were present to keep order in Cathcart Square. At a quarter past two o’clock, a procession comprising the Magistrates, Sheriff substitute, ministers, the prisoner’s father, brother and sister, all dressed in black, preceded the prisoner and guard of soldiers to the gallows. After prayers and psalms, he mounted the gallows at ten past three, had the rope adjusted around his neck and signalled to the executioner, by dripping a handkerchief, that he was ready.

An Account of Executions in Scotland.
However, this shows McDonald's death date as 1822 which is incorrect.
Upon withdrawing the bolt, the rope snapped, and Moses fell to the ground. He was escorted back to the Mid Kirk by his sister while reciting verses 1 – 15 of the fifty first psalms:

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.

Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.

Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.

Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

Deliver me from blood guiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.

O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

Half an hour later, after a new rope had been fitted to the gibbet, Moses McDonald was hung for the second and final time. His body was cut down at twenty past four and put into a coffin by his father, brother and sister, and buried the following day.

The story of Moses McDonald from the  Edinburgh Annual Register

McDonald was not the only man from the town to be hung, there are documented cases of six other men ranging from 1812 to 1892, not all of them share the same story as Moses, In fact, many of the crimes committed are MUCH worse. You can read these yourself in the short booklet we put together.

For more information on Moses McDonald you can view the McDonald Family History Website

The Greenock Hangings

Friday, 1 June 2012

All Our Stories

The Heritage Lottery Fund has announced a special one-off funding programme, All Our Stories, for community heritage projects with grants ranging from £3,000 -£10,000.

This new programme will give everyone the chance to explore their heritage and share what they learn with others, from researching local historic landmarks,visiting museums, exploring local wild places, uncovering untold stories,learning more about customs and traditions, to delving into archives and finding out the origins of street and place names.

Applications will be accepted from a wide range of organisations including community groups, heritage organisations and charities. The application process is straightforward,aimed to support first time applicants:
· Goto the All Our Stories programme page
· Enter the details of your organisation
· Answer a series of simple questions including, what you want to do, how you will do it and how much money you need.

Applications need to be submitted online by 31 July 2012 and you will receive a decision by the end of October 2012.

HLF has developed All Our Stories in support of the BBC’s The Great British Story – A People’s History. Presented by Michael Wood, the new series will be broadcast on BBC Two.

Heritage Lottery Fund development officer Louise Hastie is holding funding workshops on Thursday June 14 at the CVS Inverclyde offices.

The workshops will explore potential local heritage activities and run through a mock application. Louise will be available at the end of the session to answer specific project questions.

Please email Louise to register for the 11am - 1pm or 2pm – 4pm workshops. Please book by Monday, June 11.

Louise Hastie
Development Officer

t: 0131 240 1583
post: 38 Thistle St, Edinburgh, EH2 1EN
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