TOPICS OF SPECIAL INTEREST
During the second world war, the government requisitioned all 'unnecessary' railings from public buildings, parks and private dwellings to assist the war effort. The only let-out was to be on the grounds of safety or artistic or historic merit, the latter referring to those railings dating from before 1820.
After the initial notice appeared in the Blairgowrie Advertiser, in December 1941, Blairgowrie and Rattray Town Council prevaricated until the end of the war with a series of deferrals and rather lame excuses. (A cynic would suggest that many of the councillors lived behind railings!)
During this saga the public voiced its criticism of the Council on a number of occasions. Blairgowrie was compared unfavourably, in verse, with Coupar Angus, where the railings had disappeared. Protestations appeared in the 'Blairie' asking were our citizens patriotic enough? Most were anonymous and some were humorous – one suggested that in years to come mystery tours would visit the district to see the railings, not the Beech Hedge!
Perhaps that writer was not far off the mark. Thanks to the Town Council's inaction, we retain some of the finest, original railings in Scotland. Our varied cast and wrought iron boundaries, particularly in Perth Road, around Newton Street and in Balmoral Road, are now a notable feature of the town and we proudly paint our grapes, arrowheads and barley-sugar twists in a variety of colours. Some of the railings, piers and gates are included in listed building schedules.
Ironically (sorry!), many of the railings demolished elsewhere were never used. They accumulated in rusting heaps all over the country or were dumped at sea.
A few examples are shown on this page. If you are keen to see further examples, why not visit the town and see for yourself?
Sets of notelets depicting some of the railings are available for sale. Contact the Trust Secretary, or look out for the Trust's stand at the local market during the summer.
For further information about historic railings and for advice on conservation go to:
The Historic Scotland website has a number of publications dealing with conservation of ironwork and railings. See, for example:
A short article about Blairgowrie's railings appeared in Historic Scotland's Focus 2015 magazine. With thanks to Ali Davey for permission to reproduce her article here.