100 Weeks of Scotland: Dunfermline | ‘TestTown’

All pictures (c) Alan McCredie/ 100 weeks of Scotland
All pictures (c) Alan McCredie/ 100 weeks of Scotland
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I ALWAYS am happy to visit the old Scottish capital city of Dunfermlin’ Toun.

Week Thirty Five

Its location, on a hilltop overlooking the Forth River, is wonderful and it is steeped in history.

Like a huge number of towns these days its retail centre has seen better times though. The relentless march of huge, identical, out-of-town shopping centres is having the inevitable effect on the High Street and in common with so many other places there is a depressing amount of vacant premises in the town centre. To me these empty and shabby premises seem to suck the life out of a place.

However, thanks to the Carnegie UK Trust, Dunfermline is beginning to fight back and hoping to revitalise its centre. ‘TestTown’ is a new competition for young people throughout the UK aged between 16 and 25 to put forward their own ground-breaking ideas to redesign the future UK high street. The top 11 finalist teams with the most exciting ideas have relocated to Dunfermline and for three days will take over vacant town centre space, and trade with real consumers. The winners, who do the best job of turning their ideas into reality, will walk away with £10,000 to take their idea to market for real.

It is a fantastic idea and as I walked round the 11 pop-up shops the imagination and positivity of the each of the winning teams was infectious.

The ideas ranged from a soup kitchen championing local produce, vintage clothes shops that will kit you out there and then for a night out, and a range of clothing that links its handmade garments to music from its own record label. 

There is nothing of the hard-nosed cynicism of the BBC’s ‘The Apprentice’ about this – it is young people coming up with genuinely workable concepts who, if only given the smallest of chances, can show the incredible range of talent and dynamism they possess.

Landlords and Local Councils take note - If ideas like this exist there is no reason, ever, to have retail space lying empty in a town centre.

For more information on this great project the web address is http://finals.testtown.org.uk

Alan McCredie began the ‘one hundred weeks of scotland’ website in October last year, and it will conclude in Autumn 2014. McCredie’s goal is to chronicle two years of Scottish life in the run-up to the independence referendum.

McCredie says ‘one hundred weeks...’ is intended to show all sides of the country over the next two years. On the site, he says: “Whatever the result of the vote Scotland will be a different country afterward. These images will show a snapshot of the country in the run up to the referendum.

“The photos will be of all aspects of Scottish culture - politics, art, social issues, sport and anything else that catches the eye.”

You can follow the project at www.100weeksofscotland.com. You can also follow Alan on Twitter.

• All pictures (c) Alan McCredie/ 100 weeks of Scotland