Bute: Introductory Session
30th November 2013
While our first visit to Bute in late November was a flying one, Imran, Simon and I made the most of it, fitting in both a great introductory session to Pararchive, as well as getting a taste of the island’s rich history via an evening stroll around Rothesay. Our dusk-time tour revealed the town’s thirteenth-century ruined castle and the Winter Gardens building (1923-4), though the famous Victorian gents toilets (commissioned in 1899) had to wait until the next day. Come morning we also added Rothesay’s magnificent modernist Pavilion (1938) to our list, which was the venue for our project meeting.
Fifteen people joined us at the Pavilion, and a lively discussion ensued, during which we learned more about Bute, stories which were animated by the knowledge and interest of group members. Head of Brandanii Archaeology and Heritage, Paul Duffy and Pararchive‘s Primary Investigator, Simon Popple, kicked off our session, introducing both Pararchive, as well as their previous research projects, both of which feed into it (see Strike Stories and the Discover Bute Landscape Partnership Scheme). Paul suggested that a rich research seam to mine was Bute’s agricultural heritage; indeed, it was a theme that emerged prominently in the island community’s work on Discover Bute (see Duffy, 2013). Correspondingly, a number of people present expressed their interest in researching Bute’s numerous deserted farmsteads (both medieval and modern), with Paul posing the related questions: How did these come to be? What stories do they have to tell us?
There was excitement and anticipation about what the Science Museum and BBC’s collections and archives might have to offer the group as they go about unearthing and mapping the island’s histories. There was a strong shared interest in this pursuit, and whether the archives could help in providing missing information and, thus, supplementing existing narratives and knowledge. Group members asked: Can these public archives tell us anything we don’t know? The answer to this question – and the journey we take in exploring it – will, we hope, be answered in these pages.
We concluded our visit much as we had begun: wandering Rothesay’s front, where Simon photographed the ‘Finest gents in the land‘, and in doing so provided Pararchive with its first node, a connection with Ceramic City Stories. For the urinals bear the legend: ‘Twyfords Ltd., Cliffe Vale Potteries, Hanley’; they were made in Stoke-on-Trent. See @pararchive; #SharedStories https://twitter.com/potteriestiles/status/423391214021271553/photo/1 to follow the threads, plus the Pottery Tile Trail’s History Pin.