As part of Argyll and Bute’s CHORD programme to revitalise Helensburgh’s town centre, an ambitious and ongoing project is underway to create a unique Outdoor Museum for Colquhoun Square. The innovative project is a direct response to consultation with the people of Helensburgh during the initial CHORD process.

The Outdoor Museum takes advantage of the fact that over one hundred bollards have been placed around Colquhoun Square. WAVEparticle, the art organisation commissioned by Argyll and Bute Council to deliver the Helensburgh CHORD public art strategy, worked closely with lead architects Austin-Smith:Lord, to redesign these bollards, so that they could be transformed into plinths, with each plinth pre-prepared so that it can display objects, images and texts of significance to the town.

The vision is to create an accessible Outdoor Museum that will explore, celebrate and display the rich and varied history of Helensburgh for local residents and visitors to the town, both now and in time to come. The project is particularly an opportunity to record the untold stories- gems of history and heritage.

Local dialogue, expertise and input has been the cornerstone of the project. Over the last 2 years, WAVEparticle has organised a series of lively, convivial days to invite local people to be a part of it all, and to gather together stories and artefacts about the town that will be surprising and revealing, entertaining and stimulating, as well as educational and informative. The local people, who have contributed on a whole range of levels, are too numerous to mention at this point, but a very sincere thanks to all of you.

As a result of this process, the content for the first plinths has been garnered, which will include text and objects that celebrate Business- the Lily Springs and the Comrie & Co. tradition of aerated water manufacture in Helensburgh; Art and Craft- the town’s first shoemaker; and Conservation- a tribute to naturalist John Muir. There are more plinths in the pipeline that celebrate Community- the Lions Club Minibus; Science- John Logie Baird’s Stookie Bill; Social History- a family heirloom that comes with the story of the lost art of making bespoke butter pats; Entrprenneurship- Henry Bell’s Bell from the famous Comet, Bell lauded as the father of steam navigation.

These are treasures and stories of local, national and international significance that will now be made available to the people of Helensburgh, Scotland and beyond.

The nominations that become a permanent display on a plinth for the Outdoor Museum, have been chosen by a Selection Panel made up of local people and councillors. All other nominations will be archived on this Outdoor Museum website.

This website is a work in progress. As it evolves and as the Outdoor Museum develops, it will archive all nominations. And there is every hope and possibility that a process of additions of plinths to the Outdoor Museum could be ongoing for decades into the future!