History, heritage and creativity at heart of re-opened heritage centre

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History, heritage and creativity are at the heart of a new events programme being hosted by a recently reopened cultural hub.

Talks, workshops and exhibitions are all part of the mix as Methil Heritage Centre welcomes back visitors after a four-year closure.

The centre, on Methil High Street – run by cultural charity OnFife – reopened in April thanks to funding for a year from Fife Council’s Levenmouth Area Committee’s community renewal fund. The free events programme begins on Monday 15 July with a talk about ongoing efforts to save Wemyss Caves and its amazing array of inscribed Pictish symbols. Hannah Draper , OnFife museum assistant will outline the threat facing this nationally important site from coastal erosion, structural instability and vandalism.

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A series of five workshops that encourage 9-13-year-olds to create stories inspired by the miners’ strike of 1984-85 begins on Friday, July 19. Illustrator and artist Joanna Scott will lead the free sessions that enable participants to create their own graphic novel panels based on the year-long dispute.

Hannah Draper, museum assistant, left, and Rachel-Jane Morrison, community engagement co-ordinator, at Methil Heritage Centre (Pic: OnFife)Hannah Draper, museum assistant, left, and Rachel-Jane Morrison, community engagement co-ordinator, at Methil Heritage Centre (Pic: OnFife)
Hannah Draper, museum assistant, left, and Rachel-Jane Morrison, community engagement co-ordinator, at Methil Heritage Centre (Pic: OnFife)

A further set of school holiday workshops will give fans of the cult tabletop wargame Dungeons and Dragons a chance to create their own characters. The sessions, led by Hannah, are taking place every Wednesday (11.30am-1pm) until August 14.

The venue is to begin hosting the ever-popular Bookbug storytelling sessions for pre-school children and their families in August. Going on show in September will be a mural created by Fife Young Carers, who were voted charity of the year in Scotland’s voluntary sector awards.

The carers will be working with Levenmouth Academy’s art department to produce the giant artwork, which will feature scenes of local interest.

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Another coal-themed event is scheduled for Saturday, September 7 when former miner Ian Chalmers will offer some personal reflections on the 1984- 85 strike. It coincides with an exhibition of associated objects and printed material – among them items linked to the National Union of Mineworkers, the National Coal Board and Fife Constabulary.

Pupils from Parkhill Primary School at the centre (Pic: OnFife)Pupils from Parkhill Primary School at the centre (Pic: OnFife)
Pupils from Parkhill Primary School at the centre (Pic: OnFife)

In November, art students from Levenmouth Academy will work with photographer Cate Dillon – a former Buckhaven High School pupil – to create an exhibition of new work. The engaging show of photographic portraits, called Brighter Futures, will focus on local people who have jobs that they love.

As well as hosting events, the centre has been welcoming people keen to search archives so they can shed light on their family history. The archives have been collected and are managed by and accessed with the Friends of Methil Heritage volunteer group.

The venue also features a small display capturing the history of Methil and its surrounding area, from prehistoric times to the present day. Exhibits include a 4000-year-old clay beaker found at Methilhill, a ticket and programme from the 1938 Scottish Cup final between East Fife and Kilmarnock and some delightful painted wall tiles from the former Methil Cooperative.

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Further highlights are Neolithic stone axe heads unearthed near Windygates, lead seals once attached to bails of flax imported to Methil from Russia and a handsome 1960s clock rescued from the town’s iconic power station.

Telling the story of Levenmouth at Methil Heritage Centre (Pic: OnFife)Telling the story of Levenmouth at Methil Heritage Centre (Pic: OnFife)
Telling the story of Levenmouth at Methil Heritage Centre (Pic: OnFife)

Other objects reflect Levenmouth’s industrial heritage – a hammer and shovel abandoned when Mill Pit at West Wemyss flooded in 1669, a fisherman’s ‘Gansey’ jumper knitted in Buckhaven and items associated with the distilling, blending and bottling of spirits at Mountfleurie.

Councillor Colin Davidson, Convener of Levenmouth Area Committee, said: “The reopening of the Heritage Centre and the exciting programme of events underlines the value OnFife and Fife Council place on providing a variety of experiences for local residents and visitors to Levenmouth.

“With the reopening of the rail line we are confident the Heritage Centre will quickly become a popular venue as the variety of programmes on offer backed by a knowledgeable and enthusiastic team ensure residents and visitors will enjoy a memorable experience."

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Rachel-Jane Morrison, community engagement co-ordinator who was born and brought up in the town, says: “It’s been great welcoming so many visitors since the reopening.

“The centre is an asset for the whole community and I’m keen to hear from anyone who might benefit from what we have to offer.”

Methil Heritage Centre is open on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 11am-4.30pm – closed for lunch from 1-1.30pm – and on Saturday from 1-4pm.

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