Oban’s history at The Rockfield Centre

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The Heritage Hunters at the Rockfield Centre have had a busy and productive few months – and turned up a few surprises into the bargain!

As well as their regular monthly Blether sessions, they held their first ‘in-house’ exhibition, which ran during the Winter Festival. It proved so popular that they decided to extend it – and are very glad they did.

A spokesperson continued: ‘Many local folk, with treasures lurking in their lofts, brought some fresh insights to Oban’s story and added to the growing collection of artefacts, maps and papers that we are archiving.

‘The main focus of the exhibition was shops and businesses and a timeline of George Street, showing the changing face of commerce over the last century, provided an opportunity for debate and frequently argument.

‘From valuation rolls, census returns, adverts in school magazines and travel guides and first-hand experience, a picture gradually emerged of the changing face of our main street and the range of businesses that have flourished there over the years.

‘Who can remember Boots the Chemist at Stafford Street corner and the library upstairs?

‘Or the thrill of browsing through LPs or the latest singles in Douglas’ Music Shop?

‘Or playing ‘Harry Worth’ at Laird Parker’s at the foot of Craigard Road?

‘We were so fortunate to be given access to artefacts from Black the Tobacconist’s and Hutton’s shoe shop (by courtesy of the MacDougall of Dunollie Collection) and examples of horse brasses and leather goods from the grandson of Alfred Collier of Hope and Collier, saddlers. These complemented perfectly our series of photographs showing Oban from early times to the middle of last century, expertly prepared for us by John MacLean and his team.

‘And John also hosts the monthly Blether sessions which have proved so popular. At our Christmas Blether, we were treated to a just-for-fun quiz before relaxing with a cuppa, mince pie and slide show of views of our town which unfailingly leads to discussion and more questions. A great way to pass an afternoon with good company and craic.

The Blether sessions are held from 2-4pm on the first Friday of the month from September to April. The next one is on Friday January 14 to allow for extended New Year celebrations.

‘2022 will also bring to the fore exciting plans to further promote Oban’s Heritage. Other exhibitions are being planned, further research projects are in the pipeline and work is moving apace on our children’s space. We are recording local people with interesting memories to share, liaising with schools to promote local history and developing our family history resources.’

If you are interested in finding out more or joining this exciting project, please get in touch with Mhairi, Elisabeth or Eleanor at The Rockfield Centre by emailing: heritage@therockfieldcentre.org.uk or call: 01631 701921, or visit www.therockfieldcentre.org.uk