Garioch Heritage: Then and Now

The Garioch Heritage Society was founded in 1987 by a group of people noticing that the social history of the Garioch area of the north-east of Scotland was in danger of being forgotten. The thriving oil industry had led to an influx of people from all over the world and this meant a dilution of native born Inverurie residents. In an effort to save and record the history of the Garioch, the society met and began to gather objects and memories from local people. 

The first meetings of the group were held in the Gordon Arms Hotel, now renamed Edwards, where it was decided to hold a public meeting in the Market Place School to gauge the enthusiasm to form a Garioch Heritage Society. The meeting was well attended and it was agreed to form a Society and to draw up a constitution and apply for charity status.

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The Gordon Arms is now Edwards Bar

Alex Malley was appointed as the first chairman with William Maitland as the secretary along with a committee of eight . The first meetings were held in the Market Place school but later moved to an upper room in the Town Hall as the attendance grew.  Later, because some members were finding difficulty in climbing the stair to the room we moved to the Masonic Hall which afforded easier access .  The Society now held monthly meetings for the members and friends with a different speaker on a local subject on the first Wednesday of the month and committee meetings on the last Wednesday . We were then offered a base to display our artefacts , books and folios in the Visit Scotland shop at 18 High Street , Inverurie on a fifty –fifty basis where we supplied 2 volunteers on a rota basis from 10 am to 4.30 pm. This proved to be a valuable exercise in training the members to take over a future base. We also held exhibitions in the Town Hall , the Wyness Hall and the Community Centre. During this time we were looking for a permanent base in an industrial unit or a small cottage .

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An earlier exhibition put on by Garioch Heritage Society

Our dreams came true when Malcolm Allan offered us the occupation of a huge area at Inverurie Loco Works. The old carriage works had been vacated by Cruickshank & Partners when they moved to Kintore and was now to provide a home for our collection. Unfortunately, the building was set on fire and the roof beams were badly twisted .  The developer managed to salvage enough beams from the rest of the site to replace the damage and the roof was rebuilt. However, shortly after, vandals set fire to the tractors and forklifts being stored in the building and the underside of the new roof ended up with a black tarry residue. It took weeks to clean off. After the building was cleaned and restored, Malcolm Allan paid for the installation of the mezzanine floor, giving us twice the floor area. Andersons, the House Furnishers laid the carpet tiles and vinyl flooring as a donation to the Society, and supplied tables and chairs for the cafeteria . We were also were gifted crockery and cutlery by David Barrack from the Strathburn Hotel. Now we just needed to set up our displays.

A view from the upper gallery which is now open to the public

Volunteers started the work of erecting the booths and display areas, and cataloguing the artefacts brought in from storage areas round the town and district. The Society then employed the services of Ergadia to help us to arrange the exhibits to their best advantage, and also purchased museum quality glass cases for some of the more vulnerable and special exhibits. We appointed Nicola McHendry as our museum officer and this gave us the impetus to push towards an opening date.  Thomas and Sheila Tait assembled their display of Paper Mill memorabilia, and Charlie and Heather Milne completed their magnificent scale model of the Locomotive Works site.

Charlie Milne talks a visitor through his magnificent model of Inverurie Loco Works

Artefacts were being delivered daily to enlarge our collection and many of them were cleaned and professionally displayed. We decided to open Phase One of the Centre in October 2017. Phase One consists of the Conference Suite , the Cafeteria , the Geoffrey Gill Research and Library area, the Storage Area, and the Offices on the ground floor. We opened the upper gallery to an invited audience of members on the evening of the 16th October and to the general public at 10am on the 17th.

Visitors were treated to a sneak peak of our exhibits on Monday 16th October

We would like to thank you for your continued support. If you haven’t been to visit yet, we do hope to see you soon. Work on Phase 2 will now continue with a view to opening the whole of the Centre by Easter 2018 so stay tuned!

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