UP THE MIDDLE ROAD: CRICHTON STORIES OF RECOVERY AND RESILIENCE
In 2022, Year of Stories in Scotland, The Crichton Trust has taken to sharing the experiences of former staff, patients and residents of The Crichton Royal through a creative performance entitled Up the Middle Road.
The project began in 2020 with the appointment of Dr Valentina Bold, the first Heritage Officer at The Crichton Trust, responsible for the delivery of The Crichton Oral History Project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The project recorded the lived experiences of former nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, administrators and housekeepers, an undertaker, a catering manager and a master of works, as well as former patients and families who lived or worked at The Crichton, or ‘Up the Middle Road’ as it was also known.
When it came to sharing the findings Scotland’s themed Year of Stories 2022 couldn’t have come at a better time. Following successful bids and generous donations from the Year of Stories Communities Stories Fund, Event Scotland, Heritage Fund UK, Museums Galleries Scotland, Creative Scotland, The Crichton Foundation and the Archie Sutter Watt Trust, Dr Bold was able to form a project team to direct, produce and deliver ‘Up the Middle Road: Crichton Stories of Recovery and Resilience’. The scripted tour of The Crichton included creative performances from internationally known and award-winning singers, musicians, storytellers and tour guides; Emily Smith, Jamie McClennan, Amanda Edmiston and Kathleen Cronie and was supported by two apprentices; Zephyra Durkin and Dan Heinrich, colleagues from The Crichton Trust, Support in Mind Scotland and many other volunteers.
Two sell-out performances were delivered at The Crichton, or the ‘Village’ as it was also referred to during interviews, on the 24th and 25th June with around 200 participants touring the estate and taking in the views and tales of The Crichton with performance stops outside former wards including; Crichton Central, Solway House, Hestan House, Kindar House and The Willows. Guests enjoyed a break watching a football match taking place at the pavilion (another important aspect of The Crichton’s heritage) and finished with moving performances in The Crichton Memorial Church.
Dr Bold said: “It was an honour to record these stories and hugely important to share them too. I am immensely grateful to the people who kindly shared their experience with us and to the performers for the care, sensitivity and respect shown in the creation and delivery of the songs, music and stories written and performed for Up the Middle Road. Of course, we could not have delivered such a timely or creative response without the generous funding and support received from our funders and we look forward to sharing a taste of the performance in the photographs and footage captured throughout the event by Mike Bolam and Rob McDougall. The Crichton was a place to be endured – but for many, it was a place of sanctuary and asylum and our stories communicate both experiences.”
Gwilym Gibbons, Chief Executive of The Crichton Trust said: “Hearing and sharing stories of The Crichton Royal through our Oral History and Year of Stories projects has been both difficult and inspiring. It is important that we remember the heritage of The Crichton and, although not all experiences were positive, imperative that we continue to strive to retain the more positive aspects of this place and to celebrate its legacy as a supportive, active and healthy community where people live, work, learn, socialise and thrive in an environment where the health and wellbeing of people come first. I would like to add my thanks to Valentina and all those who helped deliver these projects, we are truly grateful.”
See previous blog
Up the Middle Road, managed by The Crichton Trust, received funding through the Scottish Government’s themed years’ initiative, managed in partnership with VisitScotland and Museums Galleries Scotland and supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, thanks to National Lottery players. The project was also generously supported by The Crichton Foundation, the Archie Sutter Watt Trust and The Crichton Trust.
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Photography above by Mike Bolam Photography. Look out for more photos and footage from this event.