WHO COORDINATES DOORS OPEN DAYS IN FALKIRK?
Geoff Bailey, Keeper of Archaeology & Local History, Falkirk Community Trust
Falkirk (14th - 15th September)
I started coordinating DoD in the Falkirk area in 2007 due to the lack of capacity of the planning department to continue to do so. That first year we concentrated on the beautiful stone churches of the Bo’ness area, but since then we have included many modern buildings of unusual and fascinating function such as the Scottish Clinical Simulation Centre at the new hospital in Larbert or the Polmont Young Offenders Institute. Having experienced staff explain the workings of these places was very enriching.
The best things about DoD are the people and the buildings. Owners and occupiers are so proud and interested in their buildings – their knowledge adds to our information base and occasionally we can tell them something that they did not know.
Our buildings are incredibly varied in design, materials, function, decoration and style, providing a rich backdrop to our daily lives.
The main challenge I faced this year was continuing to provide a diverse variety of staffed buildings open to the public with free access.
My favourite moment was at the Steeple in Falkirk. An elderly woman had turned up the year before just as it was closing, without the required free ticket and with a walking frame which clearly was unsuitable for the narrow spiral staircase. I promised to contact her when it re-opened and we let her in half an hour before anyone else. She was determined to reach the prison cells at the top – and she did. She thanked us saying that she hadn’t really believed we would contact her!
This year we have the iconic Steeple at Falkirk open again, but this time it will have displays in it telling its curious story as a shop, market place, meeting room, prison, timepiece, place of execution and visitor centre. This is a new partnership arrangement with the Falkirk Local History Society.
You can see the full programme of events, activities and buildings that are opening their doors in Falkirk here.