Borders pub celebrates its famous heritage

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A Borders pub is holding a two-day festival to celebrate the famous Scottish poet, Allan Ramsay, to mark the launch of a new cultural heritage resource centre dedicated to his life and works.

In the first scheme of its kind in Scotland, Rosemary Brown and Kenny Hall, licensees of the Allan Ramsay Hotel in Carlops are working with rural pubs champions Pub is The Hub to diversify their services to support their community.

Built in 1792, the coaching inn was built in recognition of Allan Ramsay the poet more than thirty years after his death. As a regular visitor to the area it became the affectionate inspiration for some of his work. His son, also called Allan was a famous portrait artist whose celebrated works included portraits of King George III, Bonnie Prince Charlie and Flora McDonald.

The inaugural Allan Ramsay festival will take place on 15th and 16th October in conjunction with support from Professor Murray Pittock and Professor Gerry Carruthers of the Centre for Robert Burns Studies at the University of Glasgow, as well as local musical and theatrical groups and will feature talks, workshops, an exhibition, a guided walk, a magazine and an Allan Ramsay dinner.

When Rosemary and Kenny first approached Pub is The Hub for help and advice about how their pub could play a part in community life they were advised to devise a community questionnaire.

Rosemary explained “With help from our Pub is The Hub advisor, Gordon Izatt, we created a questionnaire for local residents and we were lucky enough to have a 75% return rate. What came through loud and clear was that the village wanted the pub to celebrate their famous connection to the poetry and artistry of both Ramsays and to capitalise on relevant services for visitors to the area.”

As a result – and with £3,720 in grant funding from the £30k fund announced by the Scottish Government earlier in the year for rural pubs – the couple have since set up provision for a take away food service from the pub; information about local walks around the areas mentioned in the Ramsay poetry; and are looking into bike hire provision for mountain bikers to explore the neighbouring Pentland Regional Park.

More specifically there will be a permanent Allan Ramsey resource at the pub to include copies of key works by Ramsey senior, a specially commissioned reproduction of an historic portrait depiction of Allan Ramsay as The Gentle Shepherd and prints of select paintings by Allan Ramsay junior to decorate the hotel’s restaurant. There will be an Allan Ramsay themed rooms and guided walk around Carlops as well as pertinent signage at the pub and other significant locations in the area.

John Longden, Chief Executive of Pub is The Hub said: “This is the first project that we have done in Scotland in collaboration with the Scottish Borders Council and the Scottish Government so it seems apt that it should be to celebrate the lives of two of Scotland’s most celebrated writers and artists.

“Pub names reflect the times in which they were built and it is fantastic that Rosemary and Kenny are helping to reinvigorate the Ramsay links with overwhelming encouragement from their community. I am delighted that we have been able to guide and support their efforts.”

Councillor Stuart Bell, Economic Development portfolio holder at Scottish Borders Council, welcomed the news  of the Allan Ramsay festival.  He added “The Scottish Borders literary and artistic heritage is one of our major assets, and I’m pleased to see Allan Ramsay, father and son, celebrated in this way.  I’m thrilled the hotel has been able to develop this festival in October, and we’re delighted to have the support of Pub is The Hub in developing projects with licensees across the Borders’.

The pub has also recently been awarded a Historic Scotland Commemorative Plaque.

The photograph shows: Rosemary Brown with John Longden