Pathhead wins title of ‘most creative place’

IT is a small village more likely to be associated with farming and linen mills than as the home of a vibrant cultural hub. Now Pathhead, in Mid-lothian, has received a major boost after being named as one of Scotland’s most creative places.

Despite having just 500 homes, it counts 15 of the nation’s most successful musicians, including Karine Polwart, jazz drummer Tom Bancroft, and harpist Corinna Hewat, among its residents.

Pianist Dave Milligan and accordionist Martin Green are also among those who will help the village to become a hub for performers and music fans.

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Creative Scotland handed Pathhead a £50,000 award under an initiative to pay for the development of a full-time music collective in the area.

Residents intend to use the funds to host a series of one-day festivals, workshops and masterclasses as well as bringing international performers to the area. It was up against Unst in Shetland and Gatehouse of Fleet in Dumfriesshire in the category for creative places with a population under 2500 and declared winner at a ceremony in St Andrews yesterday.

Huntly, in Aberdeenshire, won the 10,000 residents category and Kilmarnock, in Ayrshire, won the 100,000 person category, grabbing a share of the £300,000 initiative.

Sophie Bancroft, a jazz vocalist and songwriter who is part of the Pathhead Music Collective, said it was sheer coincidence that such talented musicians came to settle in the village.

The 47-year-old, whose 
husband, Tom Lyne, 46, is a double bassist, and brother Tom Bancroft is a highly-regarded jazz musician, said both children and residents of the village had become immersed in music as a result.

She said: “We’re all professional musicians from folk, jazz and trad backgrounds who all happened to live in the same village in Midlothian.

“It’s a bit of coincidence and I guess an usual place for it to happen. My brother moved nearby and we ended up meeting others with the same background. It’s a beautiful place and has a lot of young families.

“We already do quite a bit of community work – the choir, the community samba band and regular ceilidhs – and this funding will allow us to increase the volume and frequency of these. We also want to bring international artists here.”

Iain Munro, director of creative development for Creative Scotland, said: “Pathhead is a fantastic example of how embedding arts and culture within the foundation of a community strengthens and improves people’s lives, impacting the social and economic wellbeing of the community. The awards celebrate how arts and creativity can promote the identity and character of a place. Congratulations to all the winners and shortlisted places.”

Commuter haven

PATHHEAD is largely associated with its mining and farming past, but has become a popular commuter village to Edinburgh.

Four miles south-east of Dalkeith and 11 from Edinburgh, it grew substantially after a linen mill was built on the Tyne Water in 1738.

It boasts attractions such as Soutra Aisle, a family burial vault dated 1686, constructed when the Scottish Church banned monuments inside churches and Crichton Castle, once home to the Crichton Clan of the lowlands.

The castle later passed to the Earls of Bothwell, one of whom became the third husband of Mary, Queen of Scots.

The village hall now hosts a series of lively musical events, including a regular ceilidh organised by residents.