Helensburgh’s Colquhun Square, which was given a major creative repurposing under Argyll and Bute Counckl’s CHORD scheme, is an enduring and developing success.
It not only continues to be well used but it’s attractiveness has clearly given the Clydeside town a boost to its self-confidence, with the mood of the place steadily upbeat.
The way it is developing – part of the original plan – is seeing charming details added -‘ for example to the black granite blocks used to delineate areas within the elegantly proportioned square.
On either side of the crossing of the centre of the square by Princes Street, some of these these granite blocks have become pedestals in an outdoor gallery, displaying small bronze sculptures that are horizontal in emphasis, very non-hierarchical, subtle and almost invisible.
As yu walk along, you notice a sort of texture on the top of three of these blocks and going to investigate reveals a series of little delights.
One is a collection of little objects [above] celebrating John Muir, with the new long distance walking trail named for Muir terminating on the Helensburgh waterfront beyond the square.
One [below] is a representation of the half sunk Sugar Boat which lies in the Clyde near the town, its elegant long curve visible from the Helensburgh shore and the surrounding area.
A note for necessary maintenance is that the inscriptions on the sides of the granite blocks carrying the little sculptures is degrading and is all but illegible in some cases – with the granite itself looking like it its being latched onto by lichens.
A job as good as this one is worth a regular cleaning detail – and redoing the lettering.
Further west along Princes Street, just beyond the square, a plaque has been set into the pavement [top], carrying a frank 1845 public report on the state of the street – an inventive, fun and place-specific inspiration.
‘Princes Street, Mr Morris fence dyke quite broken down and foot path in bad repair. Robert Cochranes foot path very uneven and out of repair, Mr McArthurs foot path do do [Ed: ‘ditto]. [Mr Peastons do do. Allan McLean, no sywer or water course along footpath, Miss Henderson do do. Street opposite this property in bad order. Mrs McFarlane, very bad fence to Princes Street, footpath to be dressed off, has no foot path to James Street.’
The names of the four men authoring the report are at the foot of the plaque.45
Helensburgh and Campbeltown have both been very markedly improved by the projects undertaken in the CHORD scheme,