The Trust project centred on the need to augment the Ellenabeich Enhancement scheme with a fixed interpretation point, and a leaflet to explain the historical background to the built and natural environment, with particular reference to the legacy left by the years of slate quarrying.
The need for full community support for any structure within the village was recognised from the start, and wide consultation was an important feature of the project.
Outputs and Targets
The key outputs were:
- a programme of research leading to the production of a robust and attractive information board, sited, as a result of consultation with members of the community, beside the restored crane in the village square
- the production of a new leaflet, describing the Slate Islands and their heritage, to be distributed to the school, local organisations and to be available in the Heritage Centre for the benefit of visitors. It was further agreed to distribute the leaflet to all households in the parish.
The targets were:
- to ensure that the majority of visitors to the village should have an understanding of the village origins and the industry that formed it
- to ensure that everyone in the community has access to the research and findings that informed the interpretation material, and learns something of the slate industry within the parish.
Measuring the success of the project
The success was to be measured by speaking to a sample of the visitors, and by asking local people and organisations for their comments on the leaflet.
The new interpretation board was very well received, and became a major focus of attention within the village square. Almost every visitor stops to read the material, and many spend a significant time studying it. Visitor comments are very positive. Reaction from local people has also been very satisfactory.
The leaflet was distributed to the school and some local organisations wanted copies to distribute from their own premises, which showed a good level of acceptance, ensuring even wider readership. The Trustees were confident that the original targets will be surpassed.
All technical aspects of the project, from design to execution, were well within the expertise of the Trust, and went well. The consultation process was conducted with the expertise gained from the process followed in the course of the crane restoration project, and that experience proved most useful. The drawings for the board and its frame were clear and accurate, and the text and artwork for the project was properly commissioned, designed and produced. The one aspect that proved a problem from the start was keeping the work to a timetable.
The Trust depends for much of its expertise on volunteers, which means individuals and organisations doing the work in moments of leisure. It proved difficult sometimes to "lean" on people that were working for greatly reduced fees or for nothing.
The season when the project was undertaken, spring and early summer, is a very busy one in tourism and agriculture, the areas of activity most common in the community. The local printer, for example, found it impossible to keep to agreed deadlines. One lesson learned was that projects should start in late summer if possible.
The project took some weeks longer than the Trustees would have wished, and delays were not always in the expected areas. However, the results have been entirely satisfactory, and the time spent early in the project, in planning and consultation, was time well spent. The Trust was very pleased with the outcome, and had no doubt that the targets were very well met, and that the objectives identified at the outset were achieved.
Scottish Slate Islands Heritage Trust
The Heritage Centre
Telephone: 01852 300449