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Revamped Vennel could be magnet for visitors

By Fiona Reid
Revamped Vennel could be magnet for visitors

THE rich heritage of Friars Vennel could be used to make the street a destination for visitors in Dumfries, introducing a statue and special entranceway.

That is the idea from jeweller Niall Cowan – pointing to close links to Robert the Bruce, the site of Scotland’s last execution and the historic Devorgilla Bridge.

Promoting the idea, Niall said: “The idea is to tap into the historical value that we’ve got, and that really we’re not doing enough about.

“The amount of people who come into my shop and say that the Vennel could be so much more; they say that it could be like The Shambles in York.”

The Loreburn Community Council member added: “The Vennel is an iconic street in the town. Whether you like the street or think it’s a dump, everybody has a memory of The Vennel.”

Niall notes that a picture of the Fusco’s building which recently appeared on a Facebook page focused on nostalgia prompted a flood of recollections, and considerable discussion.

But pointing to centuries of local heritage, Niall said: “How many places can say that a historical event such as the slaying of the Red Comyn took place on their doorstep?

“And yet we don’t do anything about it.”

In addition to suggesting the erection of a statue at the Irish Street crossroads, Niall said: “If the universities could come forward with something to raise the profile, and we got enough interest, then we could start looking at funding to maybe provide a portal at the top of the Vennel.”

Niall has been in discussions with Mari Findlay of Interface, who says that she could play a role in bringing on board academics.

Having already worked on projects such as Annandale Distillery in Annan, Mari says she could access the expertise required, and said: “It could be something like a digital history tour, so that young people can switch on an app on their phone when they’re in the town and it would take them round a trail, or it could be digital graphics which as you walk by and push and button they flash up.”