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Milestone moment for Midsteeple Quarter as building name and artwork are unveiled

A new name has been announced for the building being transformed to kickstart a brighter future for Dumfries town centre.

The reborn community-owned Midsteeple Quarter development at 135-139 High Street will be called The Standard.

The name was declared today (Thursday) by Dumfries Town Crier Phylip de la Maziere as part of a colourful celebration which also saw the unveiling of a temporary public art installation on the hoardings of the current construction site.

About 90 pupils from Loreburn and St Andrews RC primary schools and the Provost of Dumfries, Councillor Maureen Johnstone, were among those who joined in the fun.

And the children began the celebrations in style, waving flags as they followed piper Callum Watson in a procession from the Plainstanes to The Standard for the announcement and official unveiling. 

The site at 135-139 High Street  – formerly commonly known as the Baker’s Oven – has had many uses in the past.

Its multi-million pound transformation by Midsteeple Quarter Community Benefit Society will see it turned from an empty, derelict blight into modern homes and enterprise spaces, helping to breathe new life into the town centre. Work is due for completion this summer.

The selection of The Standard as its name has been part of the community engagement project around the art installation and a public poll in which 676 votes were cast over a selection of suggested names.

It is a name which reflects both the site’s history as a place where the Dumfries & Galloway Standard was printed for many years and the hope that it is a building which will set a new standard for community-led regeneration – creating a High Street which delivers for townsfolk as a place where people live, work and visit.

Peter Kormylo, Chair of Midsteeple Quarter, said: “The Standard is a building which will raise the bar of what we expect as we gradually transform our High Street, creating a new neighbourhood by taking neglected buildings into community ownership and turning them into places where people not only work or visit, but live too.  The name could not be more fitting.

“This is another milestone moment for us. We’re delighted that we’ve been able to celebrate it in style with so many people. We are nothing without our community and are grateful for everyone’s continued support for what we are working hard to achieve. This is only the beginning.”

The artwork unveiled on the hoardings of The Standard – and which features on other buildings owned by Midsteeple Quarter – is the culmination of a nine-month project for Midsteeple Quarter by artists Hannah Fox and Kate Drummond.

With support from Dumfries and Galloway-based art and craft organisation Upland and funding from The National Lottery through Creative Scotland, they have spoken to hundreds of people about what makes a home. That has included work with the children from Loreburn and St Andrews.

The installation unveiled highlights the message “Welcome Hame”, representing community and the new homes being created on the High Street.

Artists Hannah and Kate said: “We’ve worked with young people from local schools and townsfolk at civic events including Guid Nychburris and the reopening of the beautiful fountain to create a bright, cheerful, welcoming artwork celebrating the new homes here on the High Street and the community-led redevelopment of the Midsteeple Quarter.

“It has been a joy to work in the town. We would like to thank everyone we met who shared their thoughts, ideas and creativity with us. We hope that everyone walking along the High Street enjoys these artworks that announce this exciting new chapter for Dumfries town centre.”

The artwork will remain on the hoardings until construction work is completed.

Some of the schoolchildren involved cut the ribbon to officially unveil the artwork, followed some by celebratory tunes on the pipes.

Amy Marletta, Creative Director at Upland, said: “Our original project brief set out to create an innovative temporary public artwork which was a direct result from participation and engagement with the local community. Hannah and Kate have more than achieved that, creating something celebratory that thoughtfully responds to the ambitions and vision of Midsteeple Quarter. 

“It’s been a pleasure to work with the artists and watch this project evolve into something which we hope everyone can enjoy and feel proud of.”

The transformation of 135-139 High Street to create The Standard is funded by the Scottish Government, South of Scotland Enterprise, Dumfries & Galloway Council, the Holywood Trust and Dumfries High Street Limited (trading as Midsteeple Quarter).

Anyone who would like more information about the spaces becoming available in The Standard can email info@midsteeplequarter.org.