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September 12, 2012

In touch with the past

For many communities, a knowledge and understanding of their local history is crucial to building a strong sense of identity. Celebrating 25 years of work in one of the country’s worst unemployment black spots, Inverclyde Community Development Trust has recently been delving into the area’s past. Working with local schools, the Trust has just published a unique graphic novel reflecting some of the area’s long migration history. Now, well and truly hooked by the heritage bug, the Trust has just purchased the oldest building in Greenock.


Information provided by Inverclyde Community Development Trust (known locally as the ‘Trust’)

The Dutch Gable House is one of the oldest buildings in Greenock, and was purchased by Inverclyde Community Development Trust in May 2012. The purchase included the building at the rear of the Gable, which was built in 1751. 

The Dutch Gable House is a Grade B listed building, and over the years it has housed a very broad range of businesses and organisations. We are in the early stages of developing the Gable House, and are in discussion with a number of professional agencies about how best to work with the older building. 

We want to create a new community space for arts, culture, heritage and enterprise for the town. The Dutch Gable is a building full of history and character and we see it as the natural home for many of the projects we have been working with over the last few years. We see it as a long term project, developed in phases; when working with a building of this nature, not everything is able to happen at once. 

The Trust has a real commitment to local heritage programmes, from working with local schools to produce a book on Morton through to working with Fergusons to refurbish Port Glasgow’s Comet replica. It is no surprise that we will be celebrating local heritage in The Dutch Gable House, through exhibitions and displays and also many of the products in our shop. However, we want to bring the building to life in other ways as well, so are looking at a wide range of opportunities, from rentable desk space to radio stations. 

In the main, our current heritage project Identity will be running a whole range of exhibitions, films and sessions here over the next six months. You can find out more about Identity on the project blog.

Local folklore group Magic Torch will be running a new storytelling club here from October. You can find out how to get involved at

We also hope to have a book group and potentially some craft classes before the end of the year. 

The Dutch Gable House also has a shop, selling products from our enterprise project. Newark Products has been operating for almost two years, and we are delighted to finally have a more permanent space. All the products in our shop are made by young people employed at Port Glasgow Business and Training Centre. Our trainees learn various skills and gain valuable work experience before being helped to move into further employment. Every product is produced and hand finished by our trainees in Port Glasgow. 

Nearly all the wood used in our products is recycled; some of it comes from trees from all over Inverclyde which have come down in storms. Other wood comes from off-cuts which have been donated by other woodwork projects. Some of our wood even comes from old local buildings and boats including the recent restoration of the famous Comet paddle steamer which can be seen in Port Glasgow. Any purchased wood is always taken from a sustainable source. 

All profits are invested in creating further employment opportunities for local people. Longer term, we are certainly interested in local groups and individuals booking the space, particularly on the middle floor. We’ve even had an enquiry about wedding photos outside the back house. 

We will be launching a “Friends of The Dutch Gable House” scheme later in the year.

To keep up to date with what is happening on the project, find us on facebook at

Or drop us an email at

About the graphic novel – The Archivist Treasure

The Archivist’s Treasure graphic novel is part of the Identity project, funded by Heritage Lottery and run by Inverclyde Community Development Trust. 

The Identity project is researching and collecting stories of Inverclyde migration over the last 200 years, and using the stories as the basis for films, exhibitions and dramatic performance. 

In developing the project, we wanted to give as many local schools as possible the opportunity to be involved in producing one or two pages, and so created a character and story that allowed us to use a selection of very short stories, not necessarily in historical order.

13 local schools were involved. Each school had just a few weeks to get their pages together with our artists coming in to sketch ideas as the class explored their stories; some classes chose to focus on stories related to the area surrounding their school, others worked with family members to find a story, a few came with us to our own local archive at the Watt Library to get some ideas. We all learned things we didn’t know before.