The Falkirk Herald
Thursday, July 4, 2002
Chief reporter Alan Muir reports
Graveyard revamp planned to boost tourism
AN AMBITIOUS plan to revamp a churchyard in Falkirk town centre and boost tourism has been unveiled.
Falkirk Old and St Modan's Parish Church's burial ground could be redeveloped if speculative proposals find favour.
The Clan Munro Association is concerned about vandalism to the tomb of clan chief Sir Robert Munro of Foulis, hero of the Battle of Fontenoy and first commander of The Black Watch - killed at the 2nd Battle of Falkirk in 1746.
Rather than have the tomb cleaned again, Clan Munro member Lachlan Munro has drawn up plans to develop the churchyard and protect the last resting place of his chief.
Mr Munro, originally from Longcroft but now living in London, is a design consultant and historian. As a boy he visited the churchyard with his father and thought it was a tragedy that it was virtually ignored particularly with illustrious residents such as William Wallace's lieutenant Sir John de Graeme, killed at the first Battle of Falkirk.
Mr Munro said Falkirk had a long and extraordinary history, with visible remains spanning almost 2000 years, and too often was considered a 'Cinderella' next to Stirling.
"Most of this wonderful history lies only a few feet on either side of the main shopping street," he said. "It's virtually ignored people come and look for the tombs and they can't find them.
"The opening of The Falkirk Wheel will hopefully attract a large number of tourists to the area, but there is no specific high-profile site in the town centre to attract tourists.
"It is an ideal opportunity to develop the site as a means of getting visitors into the town."
The churchyard is also the last resting place for Sir John Stewart, killed at the first Battle of Falkirk, whose 'Men of Bute' travel to Falkirk annually to commemorate him. They are due this month.
Through his company, Glasgow based architects Munro Associates, Mr Munro has put together preliminary proposals to develop the churchyard as a tourist attraction including new parking, landscaping, revamps of individual tombs with lighting and descriptive panels and large graphic illustrations of Falkirk's history.
Another proposal is to create a Time Wheel - telling the history of the Falkirk area and featuring all the major local events.
Mr Munro said: "One of the points is to give the people of Falkirk back a feeling of their own historical past. It's going to add to Falkirk's heritage and the ability to attract investment. This could generate millions of pounds of investment in the town."
He has discussed the scheme with Falkirk Council, which owns the land, and town centre manager Alastair Mitchell.
The next stage would be a feasibility study. The scheme is expected to cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Council leader David Alexander said: "We're very interested in what Mr Munro is proposing and we're keen to participate in a feasibility study.
"The scheme on the surface looks as if it has some merit. There's a tremendous history in Falkirk we haven't taken advantage of."
He said it fitted in with the council's aim to encourage tourism and raise awareness of local history.
Town centre manager Alastair Mitchell said: "It's a very exciting prospect and the Clan Munro's ideas are great, but it has to be done in the right context and the right consultation will have to be undertaken."