Dunfermline is a town and former Royal Burgh in Fife, Scotland, on high ground 3 miles (5 km) from the northern shore of the Firth of Forth. Figures released in 2012 estimate Dunfermline’s population as 50,380, making it the largest locality in Fife and the tenth largest in Scotland.
The town is a major service centre for west Fife. Dunfermline retains much of its historic significance, as well as providing facilities for leisure. Employment is focused in the service sector. Other large employers in the area include distribution warehouses, hotels, windows manufacturing, offshore energy and financial services. The town is well connected with the rest of Scotland thanks to major A-road and motorway connections; the Forth Bridges are nearby and are well visible from the town’s main landmark, the Dunfermline Abbey.
Dunfermline and Geddes
Pittencrieff Park (known locally as “The Glen”) is a public park in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland. It was purchased in 1902 by Andrew Carnegie, the town’s most famous son, and given to the people of Dunfermline in a ceremony in 1903. Pittencrieff Park covers the historically significant and topologically rugged glen which interrupts the centre of Dunfermline and, accordingly, part of the intention of the purchase was to carry out civic development of the area in a way which also respected its heritage. The project attracted the attention of the urban planner and educationalist, Patrick Geddes.
As part of the donation of the estate, the Carnegie Trust invited proposals for the development of the area as a civic space. Two entries were submitted in 1903-04, one of which was by Patrick Geddes. His thinking about the project was to balance preservation of heritage with regeneration – encapsulated in his concept of Conservative Surgery. The second entry was by the landscape designer, Thomas Mawson. Although neither scheme was adopted, both influenced subsequent work on the establishment of the park as it exists today. The Pittencrieff Park commission was also an important influence in the formation of Geddes’s ideas in town planning and civic renaissance; he later used this unrealised project as key part of his portfolio when advertising his skills and services during his work in India in 1910s.
Woodmill High School
Woodmill High School is located in east Dunfermline. The area is going through a period of change and opportunity, thanks to the numerous housing developments being delivered nearby. The school places great emphasis on the provision of a caring, broad-based education which encourages all of our pupils to have aspirations and which promotes an ethos of excellence, not only in the classroom, but also in the wide range of extra-curricular activities on offer.
Woodmill High’s English teacher, Ms June Bouaoun, incorporated In the Footsteps of Geddes into her class’s curriculum. The group of young people, having witnessed the changes taking place in their neighbourhood, was very active and enthusiastic from the outset of the project, whether when identifying planning-related issues they witness in their neighbourhoods, or when coming up with ideas for positive placemaking.
In the Footsteps of Geddes – literally
This project delivery took advantage of the close proximity of areas and sites closely linked to Patrick Geddes and his way of thinking about place. As part of the project, young people took part in field trips to Pittencrieff Park and to Edinburgh Old Town. Both occasions were used to test out their newly acquired digital skills and to learn more about how Geddes changed places for everyone’s benefit.
The visit to Edinburgh’s Old Town included a visit to the Patrick Geddes Centre at Riddles Court, kindly provided by SHBT. SHBT’s Learning Office Russell Clegg also guided the group through the nearby James’s Close, Ramsay Garden and Johnstone Terrace urban garden (now a Scottish Wildlife Trust nature reserve – the smallest one in Scotland). The field trip culminated in a visit to the Outlook Tower – now home to Camera Obscura. In Geddes’s day it was an education centre created by this Scottish thinker to encourage everyone to explore their places and their interconnectivity with the rest of the world through visual education, including optical illusions and the ‘camera obscura’ at the top of the tower.