Did you know that the local Falkirk area is often described as “a crucible of revolution”? Or that the Bonnybridge and Greenhill areas of Falkirk are described as a “corridor of history”?
Many of our local heritage sites are maintained and managed by volunteers, and we know that these outdoor spaces and their rich and interesting histories have become more popular than ever as we’ve all made use of the spaces local to us for exercise and leisure during the lengthy period of varying COVID-19 restrictions.
One group of volunteers dedicated to the history of their local area is the Greenhill Historical Society – they came together with like-minded people and have been instrumental in driving forward projects, such as the local artworks pictured that, that have brought our local history to life. They told us:
“In 2008 the Greenhill Community Flat offered various activities to local residents, young and old. One of the staff members was Gillian Cowell, Learning and Development Support Officer. Two friends, Frank Walton and James Nolan, went along to the flat to join the computer class. Gillian happened to ask James a few questions about some old industrial sites she had seen and James was full of information. After a conversation that she found really inspiring, Gillian, James and his neighbour and friend Frank Walton, founded the Greenhill Historical Society (GHS) in the summer of 2008.
The society’s main interests were exploring the effects of the past on the present and future of Bonnybridge. The founding members of GHS were concerned that if we didn’t map and “make visible” what had been lost to the area and capture the knowledge and experiences of local people, then it would be gone forever. There followed a whole series of walks, presentations and events, which attracted many more members to GHS.
Our current membership is stable at around 20; discussion was raised about a name-change to reflect our expanding interest in the wider heritage beyond Greenhill. However, it was decided to keep the original name to remind us of our own heritage. (Besides “Greenhill and Bonnybridge Historical Society” could easily be shortened – who wants to be known as the GBH Society?)
GHS began issuing a free bi-annual glossy magazine in the winter of 2011 filling it with stories from the members and inviting readers to contribute their own reminiscences of their involvement in the district’s recent past – and they have continued to do so to the present day. Copies of “Bonnyseen” were posted to far corners of the earth – to date 18 issues have been printed and all copies of the magazine are made available to all on the Greenhill Historical Society website.
The Society assisted Paul Cortopassi with his project to install a large-scale replica of the award-winning Smith and Wellstood foundry mural, which now adorns the wall of the Bonnybridge Community Education Centre. As a result Paul joined the society and became one of our most inspirational and hardworking members!”
Our latest project is the Heritage Park, a 16-panel outdoor museum of local heritage from prehistory to the present day, which is located between Bonnybridge Library and Bonnybridge Community Education Centre.
The Park is also home to a cast bronze work of public art completed in association with the Rediscovering the Antonine Wall project team. This installation links the Roman and Bonnybridge industries of brick making and metalworking and has a model of Rough Castle Roman fort on top of its pyramid shape.
Provost Buchanan had earlier commissioned a plaque and monument commemorating the site as the former burial ground of the old St Helen’s Chapel Yard cemetery.
Our district was described as a “corridor of history” from stone-age relics, through Roman Legions, Anglo-Saxon Mottes, Radical battles, Cattle Trysts, major routes and early heavy industry. It is our aim to continue to “Explore the Effects of the PAST on the PRESENT and FUTURE of our Community” and to keep our community aware of its rich heritage.”