Portobello Prom is a place for Art. Some of it is official, literally part of the fabric of the Prom like these two modern mosaics close to Westbank/Tumbles.
Other elements are remnants of specific projects, notably the annual Art Walk, which takes place every September. While much of the commissioned public art is temporary, some pieces last longer. The most notable of these is Cressida, the sculpted metal octopus at the end of the groyne at the foot of Bath Street. Initially installed for the first Art Walk in September 2015 she was twice claimed by the sea during winter storms but was successfully rescued and re-installed. (In fact the story of Cressida is probably worth a blog post all of its own, so I'll come back to that!) For now here is a recent picture at a high Spring tide with Cressida almost completely submerged.
Last summer's Art Walk had a strong musical element, including the Bandstands project which is still present on the Prom at the sites of two former bandstands, There is an app related to the project with music and archive photographs to download when you get to the locations.
Great as it is to see these works of art along the Prom, there are also other, unofficial, pieces that appear and stay a while. They can vary in size - some are large and unmissable but others are small and tucked away so you can overlook them if you aren't paying attention. Like the Portobello Public Pencil Sharpening Project installations. So far I have found four of them - I wonder if there are any more?
There were a number of wooden objects at different points along the Prom but most of them seemed to have gone except for the Fish, Fish, Not Fish piece.
I wonder what art will appear next on the Prom?
The Action Porty AGM at Bellfield in February 2019. Discussing the past year in the community-owned venue and plans for the year ahead and beyond.
The annual wassail in the community orchard at Donkeyfield, close by Brunstane Railway station. A traditional celebration of apple trees and apple growing with the Portobello Community Choir.
The annual Christmas tree burning on the beach. Another community event with only the loosest of organisation. As a result different groups make their own bonfires along the beach. It seemed this year that there were more different groups doing their own thing than in previous years which slightly diminished the size of the biggest bonfire near the foot of Bath Street. Presumably people further along the Prom didn't fancy dragging their trees any further along the beach, which is understandable but a pity. Still there were still plenty of trees gathered on a rather damp evening for a good blaze.
The Loony Dook (or should that be Douk?) at Portobello is a much more haphazard thing than the much larger and more organised event along at South Queensferry that gets much more media attention. They are both recent institutions compared to the event in Broughty Ferry, Dundee that has been going since the 1890s!
There are no official organisers in Portobello and it's usually a case of people spreading the word when they will be heading down. This year there were several dooks along the beach although the largest one was at the foot of Bath Street at 1pm
As 2018 comes to a close a quick look back through my year in Portobello. Lots of pictures down on the beach but also other places in Portobello. Scenery and weather, birds and sea creatures and plenty of community events. Some personal highlights were the reopening of Bellfield, the Big Beach Busk, Art Walk Porty, the Ganesh Festival and the Christmas Street Festival but I also love the little details I have spotted and photographed through the year.
The Big Walk came to Portobello on Saturday 26th May. Organised by the Eden Project four walkers set off from Morecambe to walk home, one to each of the nations of the UK. The Scottish walker, Angus McLeod, was heading for Dundee when he stopped off in Edinburgh and walked along the Prom at Portobello. I took some pictures of his visit, and chatted with him for a while to hear about his experiences on his walk.
AOC Archaeology Group are undertaking of a series of archaeological works on land previously occupied by warehouses and offices in Baileyfield Crescent, Portobello.
The project was undertaken on behalf of Barrett Homes Ltd and started in the summer of 2017. The most substantial part of the works involved the large-scale excavation and recording of structural remains associated with both the Abercorn Brick & Tile Works and the subsequent United Bottle Works. These remains included early 19th century brick kilns, floors, flues, chimney bases, brick drying structures and numerous wall foundations. The remains represented all phases of the brick works development as illustrated on historical mapping from the late 18th century to its demolition in the early 20th century.
The works also revealed that significant late 19th to 20th century infilling and levelling had taken place on site, with dumped material exceeding 4m. These deposits were especially deep along the southern and eastern parts of the development area.
A large number of small finds were recovered from the dumped material infilling the structures. These consisted of bottles, glass slag, stamped bricks and stoneware from the surrounding factories. The majority of the material appeared to date to the early 20th century and had been deposited once the brick works had been partially demolished and the area incorporated within the United Bottle Works.
A significant number of stamped fire bricks were recorded lying in situ within the drying kilns. These bricks represent the final firing undertaken within the brickworks before the operation went out of business between 1909 and 1919, with the site then being taken over by the United Bottle Works. [Information from the AOC Archaeology Group website]
There was an Open Day on the site, although there was some confusion over the date!
Although Bellfield Church and halls in Portobello - the building at the heart of the first successful urban Community Right To Buy in Scotland - isn't going to officially open until later in the year, it was the venue for a pilot community event this afternoon. A combination of Action Porty, Tribe Porty Youth Theatre and Portobello Heritage Trust hosted an afternoon event at which older residents of Portobello were encouraged to come along, enjoy some music and afternoon tea and share their memories of the Edinburgh suburb with the newest generation of Portobello residents. At the same time the team bringing the building back into community use were able to gauge their progress and see what things still need to be done ready for the big opening in June 2018.
Portobello Community Choir gathered in the Community Orchard at Donkeyfield next to Brunstane Station for an afternoon of apple-related songs. The choir continued a tradition of 'wassailing' - singing in orchards to encourage a good fruit harvest in the year to come.