Discover the Elephant in the Close at Lanark exhibition

Lanark High Street
Lanark High Street

A young Italian photographer-cum-history detective is currently investigating tales of Lanark’s past which even lifelong ‘locals’ might never have heard before.

This mission has been given to Daniele Sambo by the Clyde and Avon Valleys Landscape Partnership as part of a wider local history project with the aim of producing a series of mini heritage exhibitions in various Lanarkshire communities.

Lanark’s display of pictures and stories taken and gathered by Daniele over the past month takes place on Friday, March 17, and Saturday, March 18, 10am to 4pm each day,

It is being held in the town’s Tolbooth and has the enticing title of ‘The Elephant in the Close’,

This is a reference to a now near-forgotten incident from around 120 years ago when a visiting touring fair and circus had to negotiate the massive animal through the Wide Close to and from its temporary ‘stable’ next to the Market Bar.

That is just one of the fascinating tales about the Royal Burgh Daniele has recorded in words and pictures during his time here.

The now Glasgow-based photographer said: “The Elephant in the Close story is a good example of a local tale that had obviously had several different versions over the years; I was told, for example, by Tom Fotheringham, the former publican of the Market Bar, that he’d heard a version in which the elephant rampaged down the close after getting drunk on beer it had either been given or helped itself to at the pub!”

He decided to largely concentrate his investigations into Lanark’s unique network of closes, discovering, for example, that the names they bear today might not have been those used by our ancestors.

For example, Shirley’s Close off the High Street was known to Lanarkians of 200 years ago as Clarkson’s Close.

Indeed, Daniele has discovered that virtually EVERY old street in Lanark changed its name at some point in the Royal Burgh’s history!

The display of Daniele’s findings and photos in the Tolbooth is just the first stage of a project to produce a more detailed record of our area’s rich heritage with stories and pictures from members of the public which, ideally, haven’t been repeated endlessly in earlier local history books, leaflets and exhibitions; he describes it as “people’s history.”

Apart from compiling this into a general database, the project is offering to help with Lanarkians producing their own personal family ‘archive’.

Anyone with tales/pictures which they feel might add to the story of the town are asked to take them along to the display on either day.

Meanwhile, in Carluke, the Partnership has appointed Kevin Morris as an ‘artist in residence’ and he will be undertaking numerous workshops with local schools as part of the project.

One of the end products of the overall project will be producing a local history ‘touring map’ of the Clyde and Avon Valleys area which the Partnership hopes folk will use for walking and cycling expeditions around sites of interest.

These maps should be available soon as a mobile heritage information display tours our area.

It seems that not only our knowledge of our area’s past but even our health will be improved by this effort!

More information on the project is available via the Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership website http://www.clydeandavon
valley.org/explore.