Photo: Don King beside a giant bookmark at the Scottish Tourist Board Office in London
During the 1990’s my wife and I owned the Wigtown Post Office and Newsagents. I remember the day an article appeared in the Glasgow Herald saying it was hoped to establish a Scottish National Book town. I remember Jak Kane from Machars Action coming into the shop and getting the Herald that morning. He passed the paper on to Meta Maltman who read the story about creating the book town. She then passed the story on to Roy Surplice. They decided to go for it. A group of people got together and made the case for Wigtown to be picked by the panel as the Scottish Book Town.
At that time I was the chairman of the Wigtown Business Association. The association was much in favour of the idea. In the early days after we were picked to be the book town many members of the business association were directors of the book town.. We were delighted 20 years ago to hear that we were picked to be the Scottish book town. I don’t think anybody would ever have believed what it has done for the town; from an unknown place to a place that is now known all over the world. People come from many countries every year for the festival and also to run the Open Book shop.
In the early days Ian Barr and I went to the Scottish tourist board in Trafalgar Square in London and had a meeting with the manager and we arranged to have a large book mark made and attached to the wall advertising Wigtown Book town. Members of the staff from the Scottish tourist board in London visited Wigtown so they could promote Wigtown when people came to the tourist board there.
Roy Surplice, Ian Barr and I also went to Northern Island and met with the people who would also promote the book town there. Wigtown now is such an exciting place to live with the book town events. The book town festival is one of my highlights of the year. When I see the thousands of people walking the streets I just feel like telling them “I live here”.