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27 February 2018

Talking Shops at the Engine Shed

New exhibition opens at conservation centre

young child looks into glass case containing golden animal

Historic Environment Scotland has launched Talking Shops – A History of Scotland’s Shopfronts; the latest exhibition at the Engine Shed, Scotland’s national conservation centre in Stirling.

The exhibition, which features photos and artefacts from across Scotland, is intended to celebrate the diversity of styles of shopfronts which can be found across the country. Samples of materials commonly used in shopfronts – such as the toughened, coloured glass Vitrolite, which can still be seen in many historic building facades – will also be on display.

The star of the exhibition is a golden beaver sign, which once took pride of place as part of the shopfront of a Stirling hat shop and now forms part of the collection of the Smith Museum and Art Gallery. Beavers have a long association with the hat-making industry as a source of material and consequently as a symbol of the trade. Resources on traditional sign-writing and a video highlighting Scottish shopfronts will also be on display.

Speaking ahead of the launch, Dorothy Hoskins, Technical Outreach and Education Manager at the Engine Shed said: “With so much shopping taking place online and the growth of chain shops who do not necessarily have a traditional shopfront that focuses on their goods, it’s easy to forget how impressive, memorable and well-displayed shopfronts could impact on business.

“We want to explore the benefits that changing technology brought to shops as they developed, with glass, lightweight alloys and mass production all allowing for brighter, bolder and more impressive frontages, helping to spur competition in towns.”

The exhibition is free to access from Monday – Saturday, 10am – 4pm at the Engine Shed, Stirling. 
More information on the history, care and maintenance of traditional shopfronts is available in HES Short Guide 12: Traditional Shopfronts.

About Historic Environment Scotland (HES)

Year of Young People 2018

The Year of Young People (YoYP 2018) will inspire Scotland through its young people aged 8 to 26, celebrating their achievements, valuing their contributions to communities and creating new opportunities for them to shine locally, nationally and globally. Over 200 young people throughout Scotland will become #YOYP2018 Ambassadors, ensuring their communities know about local opportunities to celebrate young people.

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For further information, please contact:

Seumas Skinner 
Historic Environment Scotland Media Office
Direct Line: 0131 668 8714
Mobile: 07776 243 809