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September 28, 2021

Flagging community identity

I once worked on a project called the Wester Hailes Neighbourhood Strategy. Based on the premise that the original planners had got it badly wrong, the Neighbourhood Strategy simply asked the people who lived there how they would have designed their neighbourhood and what improvements they would like to make. Many chose to rename their neighbourhoods with new street signage to emphasize their new identity. Having a strong identity is a vital component of any community’s development. For some, identity is embedded. Others, like Maryhill, have chosen to create a visual reminder. All will be revealed this coming Saturday.

Scottish Housing News

The Glasgow community of Maryhill is set to get its own flag this October, for the first time in the area’s 200-year history.

It follows a unique, year-long competition involving hundreds of individuals, local schools and community groups who were all given the chance to submit a proposed design thanks to a £2,000 community regeneration fund.

The ‘A Flag for Maryhill’ project, an idea conceived by staff and volunteers at Maryhill Burgh Halls during the COVID-19 pandemic, is designed to allow a community of around 75,000 people the chance to reflect on a shared history and look with pride to the future.

A judging panel – consisting of world leading experts from the Flag Institute, the Lyon Court (who maintains Scotland’s register of grants of arms and regulates heraldry) through to comedian Janey Godley and Still Game actress Jane McCarry – whittled the entries down to just five before the shortlist was opened to a public vote.

Flag experts Philip Tibbetts (the Lyon Court Vexillologist) and Lord Lyon are saddened that they cannot attend the unveiling in Maryhill. They said: “It will be present in our mind whilst we perform ceremonial duties for the nation at the Scottish Parliament today”.

They are happy to finally provide official recognition to the Flag of Maryhill by “Adding the winning design alongside the Saltire and other flags in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland”.

The flag project has attracted attention and support from across Scotland and beyond with the likes of Tim Marshall, the author of the best-selling book ‘Worth Dying For: The Power and Politics of Flags’. He commented: “Flags represent our hopes and dreams, they represent the politics of high power as well as the politics of the people. The world is a confusing place right now and we need to understand the symbols, old and new, that can divide or unite us.”

Flags are an ancient art form that developed especially to clearly display allegiance and identity. They have subsequently become the premier medium for expressing social pride, indeed it is difficult to imagine events as diverse as sports matches, military parades or musical festivals without a wide range of flags being flown.

The winning flag, which will be unfurled at a community street party on October 2nd, following which the design will be made available to all at no cost.