Trailblazing development highlights High Street’s rich newspaper past

Trailblazing development highlights High Street’s rich newspaper past

There were colourful celebrations as a new name was announced for a building being transformed to kickstart a brighter future for a Scottish town centre.

And it was one which reflected the proud tradition of journalism, newspapers – and the media generally – in Dumfries.

The reborn community-owned Midsteeple Quarter development at 135-139 High Street will be called The Standard.

Message Matters works with Midsteeple Quarter on its communications and provided PR support for a special event to announce the naming – which also included the unveiling of a temporary piece of public art in front of the building.

And it was one which certainly attracted plenty of media interest – with ITV Border, the Dumfries & Galloway Standard, the Dumfries Courier and Greatest Hits Radio all in attendance to cover.

The selection of The Standard as the building name was part of a community engagement project around the art installation and a public poll in which 676 votes were cast over a selection of suggested names.

It is a name which reflects both the site’s history as a place where the Dumfries & Galloway Standard was printed for many years and the hope that it is a building which will set a new standard for community-led regeneration – creating a High Street which delivers for townsfolk as a place where people live, work and visit.

As a town, Dumfries has a rich history of printing and journalism. The High Street was once home to both of the towns newspapers – The Standard and the Courier. Another of Midsteeple Quarter’s building is named The Press, owing to its former life as a printworks.

Modern-day journalists who grew up in the town include television and radio presenters Stephen Jardine and Amy Irons. BBC Radio Scotland continues to have a base in the town too.

The name of The Standard was declared by Dumfries Town Crier Phylip de la Maziere after about 90 local schoolchildren joined in a flag-waving procession to the building along the High Street.

Welcome Hame – the artwork currently standing in front of the site – is the culmination of a nine-month project for Midsteeple Quarter by artists Hannah Fox and Kate Drummond. It involved hundreds of people, including the schoolchildren who took part in the celebrations.

The Standard’s multi-million pound transformation by Midsteeple Quarter Community Benefit Society will see it turned from an empty, derelict blight into modern homes and enterprise spaces, helping to breathe new life into the town centre. Work is due for completion this summer.

Peter Kormylo, Chair of Midsteeple Quarter, said: “The Standard is a building which will raise the bar of what we expect as we gradually transform our High Street, creating a new neighbourhood by taking neglected buildings into community ownership and turning them into places where people not only work or visit, but live too.  The name could not be more fitting.

“This is another milestone moment for us. We’re delighted that we’ve been able to celebrate it in style with so many people. We are nothing without our community and are grateful for everyone’s continued support for what we are working hard to achieve. This is only the beginning.”

Read more about the celebration event on the Midsteeple Quarter website.

Pictures by Kirstin McEwan Photography