Village heritage group's story told

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MEMBERS of Helensburgh Heritage Trust heard the story of the award-winning Arrochar, Tarbet and Ardlui Heritage Group at their penultimate meeting of the 2009-10 winter season in Helensburgh Lawn Tennis Club on Wednesday February 24.

Heritage Trust president Stewart Noble introduced the speaker, Mary Haggarty, founder and chair of the Group, who told of its formation in 2002 and the rapid progress it has made since then — including winning a Nationwide Community and Heritage Award in 2007.

Mrs Haggarty began by inviting the six oldest natives to tea in the Loch Long Hotel, and in fortnightly meetings over the next two winters they related all they knew about the area and its social history.

Next it was decided to make a Heritage Map, with a route starting at the top of the Rest and Be Thankful and leading to Ardgartan, Succoth, Loch Sloy, Arrochar, Ardmay, Tarbet, Inveruglas and Ardlui.

The Group was formally constituted, and the map project was accomplished with the aid of a £5,000 grant from Argyll and Bute Council. Later projects included a display at the former Old Ballyhennan Church, a celebration of the 60th anniversary of VE Day, an indoor street party, and preparing banners about the Home Front and the village school.

Next came the setting up of their website by webmaster Howard Page, which in 2008 was the winner of the For Argyll best heritage website award. A special feature of the site is a ‘virtual graveyard', which enables visitors to the site to view every gravestone in the village cemetery in photographs taken by Jamie MacTavish.

Currently the Group is close to completing its latest project, producing five banners telling the story of the villages, the West Highland Railway, the Royal Navy Torpedo Range in Loch Long, and the Loch Sloy Hydro Scheme.

The picture shows (from left) Stewart Noble, Mary Haggarty, Jamie MacTavish and Howard Page. Photo by Donald Fullarton.