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How Can We Better Interpret and Present 1745?

RSA Coffee House Challenge Comes to The Pans

Its not often that an offer of free coffee comes up but June 29th is an exception at The Prestoungrange Gothenburg. In response to a nationwide RSA/ BBC initiative sponsored by Starbucks, everyone with something to suggest as to how the Battle of 1745 can be better interpreted and presented for visitors to Prestonpans and indwellers alike is invited to drink the coffee and air their views.

It is actually no more complicated that that. All the ideas arising will be distilled and a 'Dream' of what could be will emerge. And the newly established Battle of Prestonpans [1745] Heritage Trust will set to work to see how The Dream can become a reality. And that next stage will be on September 21st 2006, the 261st Anniversary of the Battle.

Click on image to enlarge

The Briefing Note going from the Prestoungrange Arts Festival Society to all invitees, [and any Panners or friends who wish to be there reading this blog can have an invitation simply by asking Ph 01875 819922] tells the full story behind this initiative:

How Can We Better Interpret & Present 1745?

The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts Manufacture & Commerce [The RSA] was established in 1754. Its founders met in London’s Coffee Houses. Amongst the early issues discussed would surely have been the Battle that took place in Prestonpans in 1745 and what came afterwards. Their goals like ours in the Prestoungrange Arts Festival were to encourage ideas for the development of society. As such it was a short step for Starbucks to suggest that the renaissance of Coffee Houses today could once again be used by the RSA for the encouragement of ideas.

Across the UK this June more than 100 ‘Coffee House Challenge’ Groups are meeting to explore issues of significance in their communities. There are no rules. Just meet and brainstorm and explore ideas and ponder what could and might be done on an issue of significance. As a lifelong Fellow of the RSA I was invited to convene such a Group here in Prestonpans. There were of course many challenges that could become the agenda but asking around widely one seemed to be almost universally identified.

“The Jacobite victory at the Battle of Prestonpans in 1745 was a moment of hope for many if not all Scotsmen. Many visitors to our town ask to see where it took place and hear the story of what occurred, why it happened and where it led. Most Panners agree our-best-is-yet-to-come as we recount that story and interpret the events precisely where they took place.”

There have indeed been many successful achievements over the years e.g. the 250th Re-enactment in 1995, the unique Battle Byng, the Memorial Cairn, the Gardiner Monument, the Restoration of Bankton House, the Annual Battlefield Walks. But we know we can do better. Culloden held by the National Trust for Scotland by any account does much better than us with hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Like them we could share our story more effectively with thousands of visitors on a continuing basis, as well as reminding ourselves of its significance.

Battle of Prestonpans [1745] Heritage Trust Founded

The Prestoungrange Arts Festival has taken steps to establish ‘The Battle of Prestonpans [1745] Heritage Trust’ as a Scottish Charity. It knows that its first step must involve our entire community in exploring what might be, could be, should be better accomplished. The agenda is not about funding which will of course be needed, nor that anyone must yet do anything in particular. Rather its Dreamtime. Its ideas time when we should seek to explore what might be the very best of possible outcomes. Once we can perceive even agree upon a comprehensive and inclusive outcome, what we like to call ‘The Dream’, the necessary steps to make it reality in the Pans will become clear to us all.

Published Date: May 16th 2006

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