Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Crawfordjohn's Heritage Venture

I recently had the opportunity to pay a return visit to a little museum in Crawfordjohn.

It's in the old village church. I had been here before and it was pleasing to see that the fabric of the church had received attention, with new windows, and there is now wheelchair access. The interior too has received a makeover. It's not easy to maintain a small community venture like this! The museum is self supporting, and independent. Fundraising is an ongoing challenge!

There's a poster on the wall of the museum which asks the question, "What's so special about Crawfordjohn that it needs a museum?" The answer? "Probably nothing, but the story of the village is typical of Lanarkshire's upland villages." The museum has a fascinating collection of exhibits, and lots of information relating to the village and surrounding area. Many of those who visit are researching their family histories! All that's on offer can be found on the museum's website here.

One reason for me visiting last Sunday was that I had heard that there was a curling exhibit. Why is there a Scottish top on display? Former world champion and well-kent curler Jackie Lockhart (nee Steele) has a link to the area. Her grandparents lived and farmed at Liscleugh, and that's where her father grew up. See some photos of Jackie in action here.

Crawfordjohn did have its own curling club, and in the 19th century local curlers competed against those from Leadhills, Wanlockhead, Sanquhar, Douglas, Abington and Crawford. It was a thrill to find that the minute books of the Crawford CC are currently at the Crawfordjohn Heritage Venture. These date from 1837 through to 1943, and interestingly contain the names of two Polish officers who were members of the club when they were stationed at Crawford in WW2.

I wonder if the minute books of the Crawfordjohn CC still exist somewhere?

The name 'Crawfordjohn' is well linked to curling, as any student of the sport's history will know well. Stone from the quarry at Craighead, in Crawfordjohn Parish, was used to make curling stones in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. That's a Crawfordjohn stone on the left of the photo above.

Enthusiastic volunteers are so important in any community venture, and I must say that I received a warm welcome on my visit.  On the left is Jenny Hodgen, who is a Trustee and was the volunteer 'on duty' last Sunday. It was great to meet Janet Drife (centre) who is the current chair of the Crawford Heritage Trust. Janet Telfer, on the right, is a founder member of the Trust. They could answer every question I had! I wish them every success in future endeavours. 

Do visit the museum if you can!

Photos © Skip Cottage

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