What Future for the Past?
If heritage is defined as inherited culture, tradition and natural environment as well as the concrete evidence of the past, such as historical sites, buildings and monuments, then the present-day community of Cults, Bieldside and Milltimber still has a significant inheritance. However, much has already been lost. It is important to record, protect and preserve the community’s heritage because, not only does it provide a valuable educational resource, it can play a crucial role in engendering a sense of place and contributing to local cultural identity.
This community’s heritage includes a range of historic sites, from scheduled monuments like the 4,000 year old Bieldside Cairn to listed buildings such as Cults West Church. In addition to the Cairn, among the most notable are the eighteenth century Cults House and its garden wall, the March Stones and the derelict Morison’s Bridge. Of the five or six station buildings that existed on this stretch of the Deeside Line, only one, Cults Station, remains almost as it was; the others, Pitfodels, West Cults, Bieldside, Murtle and Milltimber, have either been demolished or sold and converted to private residences.
A list of relevant books, internet sites and other sources of information is provided in appendix 3. A heritage group of the CC has been formed.
Institutions and Traditions
As well as a large number of Victorian and Edwardian houses, there are the churches and long established clubs, such as Cults Bowling Club, founded in 1887 and Deeside Golf Club, founded in 1903. Such institutions are an important aspect of heritage, not just as buildings but for the social and community interaction they represent. The Cricket Club and Hillwalking Club of more recent date are also part of local heritage. Traditions like the annual Carol Concert and the MBC Festival, recently celebrating its fortieth anniversary, contribute to heritage, as does the MBC News.
One aspect of heritage not so far apparent is any record of Oral History of the community. It may be a less tangible form of heritage but valuable knowledge may reside in the memories and recollections of people. Older people can contribute to the recording and preservation of heritage; they are a resource of knowledge that is in danger of being lost.
This aspect of our community’s heritage is covered in section ‘Natural Environment’.
Existing provision for Conservation of Heritage involves the Community Council Planning Officer alerting the Council to any threats posed by planning applications. The Planning process also involves surveys undertaken, prior to major developments, by the Archaeological department attached to the City Planning Department.
Buildings and sites of historical significance can be protected by the processes of Listing and Scheduling, and green space preserved by the designation of Conservation areas like Pitfodels.
Current Key Issues
There is a need to consider the fragility and vulnerability of heritage to threats from further development and to damage from erosion, weathering, vandalism etc
Perhaps the greatest threat to heritage is lack of awareness and lack of knowledge: if people are unaware of the historical importance and/or the vulnerability of sites, they are not likely to be concerned about protecting and preserving them.
An obvious issue for the community to consider is Morison’s Bridge which has been on the Buildings At Risk Register since 1991. Its derelict state cannot be easily dealt with as it is protected by its B-listed status but previous attempts at repair and or restoration have been thwarted or reversed by flood damage. The problems and cost involved in conserving it seem to render it an insoluble problem and currently the CC has a project, in alliance with the Scottish Water Authority who own the land at the north end of the bridge, to clear the site at the north end, to install an information board, viewing area and bench.
The CC submitted an application to Scottish Heritage in 2017 for the Cults Station to be listed but after a site visit and report Scottish Heritage decided it did not fulfill their criteria for listing. The CC is considering the future of the Cults Pumping Station (next to Cults Hotel) which is likely to be sold by Scottish Water. The CC has also organised a heritage walk as part of the MBC Festival and articles on heritage have been published in MBC News.
Community Council Objectives
To ensure there is a full and informed debate before any decision taken which would destroy or affect any buildings or sites of historical interest; to promote their preservation, restoration and conservation and to raise awareness of our heritage.
- To prepare a table and a map of listed buildings and scheduled monuments and place it on the CC’s website.
- To inform and educate residents about their heritage, eg through the installation of information boards and heritage trails.
- Shakkin Briggie. To complete the project to have a view area, information board and bench at the north end of the bridge.
- To identify priorities for possible heritage projects.
- To investigate funding sources such as Heritage Lottery Fund
Views are invited on any aspect of local heritage but particularly on the following issues:
- Should the community council be actively involved in researching, protecting and promoting local heritage sites?
- Which aspects of local heritage should the community council seek to to record, protect and preserve?
- Which local heritage sites should be priorities for the community council to protect?
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