A few months ago, I posted about a new sculpture on Victoria Street in Dunbar called the Creel Loaders. I wrote the post, posted it again because I liked it, then promptly forgot about it, writing lengthy blethers about other things in the meantime. This morning, I heard from the Dunbar Shore and Harbour Neighbourhood Group. They weren’t enclosing a defamation writ or anything, thankfully, instead complementing the post and providing more information about the Dunbar Harbour Gateway Project they are currently undertaking. The Group have laid waymarker stones leading to the sculptures just to finish off the landscaping. I look forward to seeing them when next in Dunbar in a week or so.
The Harbour Gateway Project strikes a chord with me, bringing the harbour and Dunbar’s maritime past to the fore to tempt visitors down to the shore as well as informing those from the town about what once happened there. The Cat’s Row tenements that once stood on Victoria Street, where fisherfolk lived in sight of the harbours, were replaced by terraced houses designed by Sir Basil Spence. I know there are quite a few folk who like brutalist architecture, of which Spence was a particular proponent, but I am really not one of them, thinking Spence more of an architectural vandal for his tower blocks that once dotted the skyline of this great city and the destruction of George Square in the heart of Edinburgh University. I digress. Victoria Street is fine, Spence’s houses are not at all bad, though the street is even nicer because of the Creel Loaders sculpture, which seeks to ‘connect people with place’, which is a great sentiment and one with which I heartily concur.
How do we connect with places? I have a deep and lasting connection with Dunbar that persists despite living now at the other side of the country. It stems from personal memories, good and bad, long walks, reading and living life. My adopted home, Glasgow, has been harder but I smile when I approach the city when I’ve been away, just as I used to when the train passed Belhaven Bay on the approach to Dunbar station. I have been lucky to have been able to form connections with all sorts of places in lots of different ways. I was just thinking there about Dublin, a city which I have visited quite a few times and like immensely for its history, walkability and all round charm. I think personal resonance has a part, memories, not to mention a wee bit of imagination to carry you through. The next time I walk down Victoria Street, I will chance a glance at the Creel Loaders and think back to what my ancestors might have been doing in centuries past, there and on distant shores too.