Positive signs all round at the Buck’s Head

groupe_dsc1874George Paterson, newly-retired Principal Teacher of Design and Technology at Loudoun Academy shared a proud moment with some of his former pupils, as they gathered outside a Galston pub recently.

They were there to admire the culmination of a year-long project, funded by East Ayrshire Council’s Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme, which he oversaw in his final teaching days at the school.

The Buck’s Head, built in Victorian times, had become tired and in need of some TLC before local couple Helen and David Murdoch, bought the building and set about restoring it with the help of funding  from CARS which contributes to the costs of restoring historic buildings using  the sympathetic materials and techniques which are best suited to repairing them. The building is now looking magnificent, with a bespoke new frontage, painstakingly recreated to resemble the original and replacing an unsuitable upvc construction and restoring the roof, stonework and gable end wall to their former glory.

But for George, his pupils and everyone who passes, the most outstanding feature of the pub is its brand new sign, lovingly designed by them and crafted in conjunction with Pete Hill at Ratho Forge.  Forged from metal, and painted in colours to compliment the building, the sign is a modern interpretation of a traditional style hanging sign as used since the middle ages to denote the use or name of a shop or hostelry without the use of words.

The striking three dimensional stag’s head was the winning design in a competition, funded by Galston CARS and run with the school and the owners of businesses within the conservation area.

The pupils’ brief was to talk to building owners, ascertain the nature of their business, look at their building and come up with designs which would represent them.  They worked as a team, visiting the businesses, consulting with them over plans and working with Pete Hill to come up with workable designs.

Along the way they learnt skills in market research, interview techniques, design and metal working. A highlight of the process was a visit to the Ratho Forge to see the chosen design being made.

Representing the pupils on the site visit were Megan Berry, Alison McCall, Ailsa Richmond and Jay Campbell. “It was a lot of fun, working to design the signs” said Ailsa. “It made us look more closely at the buildings in Galston, and we went into businesses we’d never been in before.

Megan agreed: “It was good to talk to the owners and find out about what they do. I never even realised the Buck’s Head was a pub! It’s made me appreciate the town.”

Alison, who is keen on art, particularly enjoyed working as part of a team. She said: “It was great to get to do something we usually wouldn’t experience. “

Jay said: “I really enjoyed visiting the forge and getting to make some metal leaves – it was good to take an old tradition and make it modern.”

Councillor Jim Buchanan, Cabinet Member for Economy, East Ayrshire Council, said: ”This project exemplifies the true benefit of regeneration projects. For the Murdochs, the funding from the Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme which comes from ourselves and Historic Environment Scotland, has enabled them to make much needed repairs and restore the building to its former glory using sympathetic materials and methods.

“For the young people, they’ve expanded their knowledge of history, architecture, business and design. They’ve worked as a team to accomplish something long lasting and valuable for their local community, increasing their confidence and giving them an opportunity to gain an insight into possible future careers.  They’ve also gained some pride in their local heritage and community, and appreciation of the role which they can play in safeguarding that heritage in future.”



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