As 2016 draws to a close we look back at what has been an incredible year for The Black Watch Castle and Museum.
We were proud to host the poignant Last of the Tide – Portraits of D –Day Veterans exhibition during the summer of 2016, the only venue out with the Royal Palaces to have done so. This collection of 12 portraits of D-Day veterans was inspired and commissioned by HRH The Duke of Rothesay, was displayed within the Castle recently redeveloped Wavell Room.
We were honoured to have worked with 14-18 NOW to bring Poppies: Weeping Window by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper to the Home of The Black Watch and to the people of Perth. The Weeping Window installation flowed from the Castle’s second floor turret window onto the ground below and was viewed by over 120,000 visitors during its stay with us. This was a memorable and humbling project for our team and army of Poppy Partners to be a part of, creating a major focus of our First World War Commemoration programme. When we remember, not only the 9,000 Black Watch soldiers who died during the First World War, but all whose life was taken during this devastating event.
We cannot reflect on 2016 without a special mention to our amazing Poppy Partner Team. During the preparation for welcoming Poppies: Weeping Window we invited the community to become part of our Poppy Partner Team. To our delight over 120 people, from many parts of Scotland, give their time, enthusiasm, passion and energy to take part in this delivering a world class event to those who visited the iconic installation during the summer of 2016.
The #PoppiesTour produced a powerful and engaging experience for the 120,000 people who visited. The success of the installation at our venue was not achieved alone; we fostered a variety of collaborations through the cultural, public and private sector to make this possible. All involved came together to deliver a thought provoking, emotive encounter for those who visited. We are therefore delighted to be given recognition for this through being shortlisted by Arts and Business Scotland for the Enterprising Museum Award. The award evening takes place in March 2017, we will keep you posted on the outcome!
In 2015 we made our first entry into the Perthshire Chamber of Commerce Business Star Awards. These awards recognise the best of local companies in Perthshire. We were pleased to achieve runner up position in our entered category of Excellence in Tourism and Leisure. Building on this we entered again in 2016. We were delighted to be announced as the winner of the Excellence and Tourism and Leisure Award and for the Castle Gift Shop to be a Finalist in the Independent Retailer of the Year Award.
Our café continues to go from strength to strength. At the 2016 Food Scotland Awards, the Café was awarded the Best Café/Bistro of the Year in the Central Scotland Region. This is the second year we have achieved success in these awards. We are very proud of this award, particularly as it is voted for by the public. Here’s to making it a hat trick in 2017!
A new industry award commenced in 2016 – the Outdoor and Leisure Awards, voted for by the public. We were pleased to be informed we had been nominated by public vote to be a finalist in the Best Visitor Attraction in Scotland category. Quite an achievement! We conceded to Stirling Castle, who, I am sure you will agree is a very worthy winner.
Anne Kinnes, our Chief Executive was ranked No 4 in the Courier’s Perthshire county Impact 100 list; recognised for her part in securing the iconic Poppies: Weeping Window sculpture by Artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper for the city of Perth. Anne was delighted and honoured to be awarded such recognition. It came as a complete surprise but a fabulous reward at the end of a very busy year not only for Anne but for all the team who were involved in our presenting such an important and evocative event this summer. This was truly a team effort and Anne expressed her gratitude to all who have supported her in the momentous year.
2016 is certainly a year to remember for The Black Watch Castle and Museum. We are proud of our successes, we will use the momentum and motivation they bring to drive forward our overall objective; to continue to grow, develop and sustain the Home of the Black Watch.
Let’s take a sneak peek into a very exciting project we have in store for 2017…
We have installed a replica First World War trench within the Castle grounds. Thought to be the only one of its kind in Scotland, the structure was constructed over 5 days, on site using timber frames and wire gambion with the exterior wrapped in hessian. The trench stands approximately 3 meters above the ground and includes an observation post, dug out, shelter and firing step.
Throughout 2017 the trench will be opened to create a rich and interactive experience for our visitors. While we will never truly know what life was like for a solider in the trenches, our innovative variety of events will be designed to generate amazing opportunities for visitors to investigate the trench structure and, with the knowledge of the Castle team, develop an informed imagery of the daily routine and challenges faced by the soldiers 100 years ago.
The first of these opportunities will take place over the 4th to 8th of January, 1:00 pm –3:00pm.
The Castle team will be on hand to share the story of World War One trench living. Learn about the design and evolution of the trench systems, discover the observation post, dugout, shelter and stand on the firing step. Gain first hand experience of what the soldiers would have worn and how they may have spent their days and nights whilst living in the trenches.
We thank you for your support this year; while we know it will be hard to repeat the success of 2016, we hope to create more special memories in 2017 for our visitors and team.