Last weekend a few of us from the Scottish Civic Trust went out and about to explore some interesting Doors Open Days buildings. We’ll be out again this weekend so make sure to subscribe to the blog and check back next week for more updates from across Scotland!
Image (c) G. Wild
Gemma, the Trust’s Heritage & Design Officer, headed out to Ayrshire and her first stop was the Darvel Telephone Museum. She wasn’t sure what to expect from the museum, but found a really interesting and quirky Aladdin’s cave of telephone equipment and telecoms memorabilia. The museum itself was captivating with phones covering every wall and surface, but the real treasure was the owner Max Flemmich, a former BT engineer, who has collected the items in the museum since his retirement. Max encourages visitors to touch, use and play with the equipment, while he explains how it all works. Many of the phones in the museum are connected up and Gemma says she was mesmerised by the working switchboards which Max kindly demonstrated for her.
Image (c) G. Wild
Gemma had great fun pointing out all the phones she remembered her parents and grandparents having over the years, including some mobile phones that looked prehistoric compared to the sleek touchscreens we’re used to today! A museum dedicated to telephones may seem a bit niche, but with Scotland being the birthplace of Alexander Graham Bell this wee gem ought to be better known. As with many great Doors Open Days events, it’s the people involved that really make the experience – Max has an enthusiasm and knowledge of his subject that you can’t help but share and it was fascinating to hear how quickly communications have developed over the last 50 or so years.
Meanwhile, I was over in Clackmannanshire exploring a hidden gem in Alloa. Well, I’m not sure if “hidden” is the right word, St Mungo’s is a pretty big and impressive parish church! A short walk from the train station, St Mungo’s is located close to the centre of town on Bedford Place. We were given a guided tour of the building and a chance to have a look at the interior of the church whilst learning about its history. St Mungo’s was designed by local architect, James Gillespie Graham, who was born in Dunblane. The building was completed in 1819 and at the time it was built, St Mungo’s was one of the largest churches in Scotland. The interior of the church was given a major revamp during the 1930s, when a new entrance porch and additional seating were added, and roofing and flooring was replaced. Galleries were also removed to make the church brighter, and even a new heating system was added! The impressive church has held on to its status as a B-listed building since 1972.
The current minister of St Mungo’s is Reverend Sang Y. Cha, originally from South Korea, who used to be a Hollywood agent before swapping the celebrity life to become a minister in Alloa. Quite a change in lifestyle! Sang Cha has been at St Mungo’s since 2011 and was the first Korean to be ordained by the Church of Scotland.
Did you visit any Doors Open Day buildings in Clackmannanshire or Ayrshire? Stay tuned for more Doors Open Days adventures next week!