Off the Wall
Invergordon off the wall is a group which was set up in January 2002 to address the social and economic deprivation of our town. A voluntary initiative, we are a company limited by guarantee, with Scottish charitable status. The committee is made up of a small group of dedicated volunteers comprising a broad cross section of the community, encompassing a wide variety of skills and age groups.
We hope through our efforts to regenerate and enhance Invergordon in a way that promotes community involvement and a sense of local identity.
We intend to promote the rich and diverse history of the town, illustrating the events, people and industries that shaped this ‘Noble Harbour'.
First and foremost, our aim is to create a professionally executed outdoor art gallery, accessible to tourists and locals alike, involving the whole community.
To take our project forward, we set up an advisory panel of local artists and business people.
The marketing potential of an East Ross Heritage Trail is evident. Similar interest visitor attractions such as;
- Hugh Millar's Cottage
- The Cromarty Courthouse
- Tain Through Time
- The Tarbat Discovery Centre
- The Invergordon Mural Trail
- The Invergordon Heritage Centre
- Alness in Bloom and Alness Heritage Centre
- Dingwall Museum
increase the potential for overnight and short break stays. We feel that the impact on local businesses can only be positive, encouraging tourists off the A9 to visit local attractions.
From its inception Invergordon has had a history of boom and bust, from its heyday as a thriving port and busy dockyard to the construction of the distillery which is still in operation.
In the intervening years, the opening of the aluminium smelter and the Nigg oil rig fabrication yard provided a vibrant economy. However, the abrupt closure, without warning, of the smelter on 29 December, 1989 after only 10 years in operation, created mass unemployment in the town. The whole community was in shock; almost every family in the town was affected. The devastation caused by the closure cannot be over emphasized, it cast a pall of gloom over the whole area. It was even more galling to the men and women who chose to remain working at the smelter rather than opting for more lucrative employment at the Nigg oil fabrication yard. The construction yard continued for quite a number of years after the closure of the smelter; in the heady days of the early eighties, employing up to 5000 people; it is now up for sale!
In the meantime, Invergordon had been made a trust port and The Cromarty Firth Port Authority had been appointed by government to manage the town's main asset; due to the oil boom this led to the port being used as an oil rig repair yard and service base.
Invergordon is now at the heart of the cruise liner trade, with approximately 40 liners visiting the port each year. This year saw the visit of the Queen Mary 2 on Sunday 19 June and the Queen Elizabeth 2 on Monday 1 August.
Unfortunately the local economy does not see much benefit from this influx of visitors as most of the passengers are bussed away to Loch Ness and other famous tourist attractions.
The deprivation indices published in March 2003, show that of 1222 wards in Scotland, Invergordon is rated the 223rd most deprived.
Although the current unemployment figure is not now at its highest level, this disguises the fact that a large percentage of the male workforce is compelled to work abroad as there is little sustainable employment in the area.
Due to our proximity to the rapidly growing city of Inverness, and the fact that we are bypassed by the main A9, the retail heart of the town is rapidly diminishing.
At the time our group was established there were 18 vacant business premises on the Invergordon High Street.
The need for a sustainable attraction to Invergordon cannot be over emphasised.
Our group entered a Rural Voices Action Research competition and from an entry of eighty was one of a group of eleven chosen to attend a two day training course in consultation procedures, and a seminar on rural capacity building.
Invitations to the first day’s consultation were distributed by a small army of volunteers to every household within a three-mile radius of Invergordon.
The day culminated in a public meeting addressed to a packed hall and delivered an overwhelming mandate to go ahead with our project. We gave many further presentations in various venues and to as wide a section of the public as possible.
The next step was, and is, to attract funds to create our outdoor heritage art gallery. A lot of hard work and determination has gone into this process.
Every mural will be created with input from a community group who will decide on a theme and collate pictures and stories for interpretation by a professional artist.