School pupils invite people to explore Dundee's first ‘People’s Park’

29 September 2021
A new project launched by the University of Dundee, in collaboration with Morgan Academy pupils, encourages the public to learn more about the city’s first ‘People’s Park’, Baxter Park.

The Big Back Garden (BBG) project is a collaborative venture led by the University’s Archive Services. Using archival material from the University’s archives, Dundee Local History Centre and Dundee City Archive, Morgan Academy pupils have researched and recorded the stories of the Park’s planning, its opening and how it was used and developed during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Their narratives can be accessed via QR code plaques throughout the park which link to the Big Back Garden website, where visitors can see the records they used, listen to the pupil’s stories, explore the park through a quiz trail and post memories and stories on the comments page.

The story of Baxter Park

Dr Jan Merchant, Senior Archivist within the University’s Archive Services, said, “Baxter Park has served as a big back garden for all Dundonians since its opening in 1863, paid for and gifted to the people of Dundee by linen manufacturer Sir David Baxter.  

“The park still plays a central role within the community, especially since its regeneration and re-opening in 2007. The research of original source material by Morgan Academy’s S3 history classes is central to the Big Back Garden project.

“Baxter Park has a long history and a strong identity, one that is enhanced by the stories based on the pupils’ research. Through the project, these can be built on and developed.

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“We also encourage visitors, past and current, to help build a living Baxter Park archive collection. We’d like people to contact us with their stories so we can record people’s experiences of the Park, to build on the existing narratives and develop a dynamic oral history resource for visitors in the future.”

Those wanting to get involved in the project by sharing their experiences and stories are encouraged to e-mail the project organisers.

(report and images courtesy University of Dundee)