A’ aboot the history o’ oor wee toon

Do you know where Rosie the elephant was buried in Gatehouse?

Or how firemen in the olden days could tell whether you had paid your building insurance?

The answer to these questions and many more are contained in a fantastic new guide to Gatehouse of Fleet which won the Stewartry cup for the best exhibit at the recent Scottish Family History Society Homecoming Exhibition.

The booklet was researched, written and illustrated by pupils from Primary 4/5 of Gatehouse Primary School. Around forty schools from across the region were exhibiting their local history projects at the event.

Pupils decided to write the booklet to tell visitors about the town in the 1900s and before, and to celebrate ‘The Homecoming’ year during which Scots everywhere are thinking about and celebrating their past.

Over the last few months the pupils have been on ‘out-and-about’ visits in Gatehouse and the surrounding area, accompanied by Margaret Wright of Dumfries & Galloway Family History Society and the Mill on the Fleet. Looking at the buildings and finding out about their interesting history was a real eye opener for the class. ‘It was fascinating how much we don’t normally see when we walk around the streets - but how much is there if we only know where to look’ reported Jessie Leach and Reah Telfer.

Back in class, decisions had to be made about what to include in the booklet, and then the research began in earnest. Information was gathered from books, old photographs and paintings. Pupils wrote about and illustrated their topics, ranging from ‘Early Settlements’ to ‘Famous People’, which were then pulled together to form the guide. Some pupils then visited the Council Graphics Team in Dumfries who helped to design and print the final booklet.

Class teacher Mrs Carol Clark is delighted with the success of the project. She said, “The pupils worked extremely hard to produce the final booklet and they thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. We are very grateful to Margaret and Graham Wright for their help and advice. Their knowledge of the history of the local area was invaluable. I am extremely proud of the way the class worked together as a team in order to meet the printing deadline. They have done a fantastic job and deserve a great deal of praise for their achievement.”

Councillor Tommy Jacques, chair of the Fleet Valley NSA Advisory Group, which provided funding for the booklet, said ‘This is a fascinating guide, packed with interesting facts and wonderful pictures. The children have obviously worked very hard and have produced a first class publication. I can thoroughly recommend the guide – it’s essential reading for visitors and locals.’

The production of the booklet, called Gatehouse of Fleet – A Local Guide, was part of an Enterprise project undertaken by primary 4/5 and is now on sale at local outlets in the town. Proceeds from the sale will be used for school funds and the printing of more copies of the booklet in the future.