Giddy Kippers making their music video

The Giddy Kipper Ceilidh

Newhaven Community Choir now has three new songs and a reel to celebrate! All three songs were written over the autumn with the help of musician and choir leader Jed Milroy and the multi-talented choreographer and fiddler Joanna Jeffries.

Thanks to funding from The Edward Marshall Trust the process of writing a song based on local stories has been fascinating and our Songbirds were proud of the results. From the mythical willow tree to the pirate bones found under the playground of the  local primary school  the choir have been belting  out their new repertoire ever since.

Dazzle ships decorate Newhaven Primary SchoolDazzle ships decorate Newhaven Primary School

Filming the P7 music video at Newhaven Primary School
Filming the P7 music video at Newhaven Primary School

The third song was developed with Victoria Primary’s lively P 7 class and is about Newhaven’s role in developing a listening system for enemy U Boats in The First World War.  Our Curator Jan Bee Brown set the scene by writing a series of short stories about the U-Boat war at sea and the class visited Ciara Phillip’s Dazzle Ship ‘Everywoman’. Art workshops inspired by Newhaven Fishwives’ Gala dress followed with Jan and Helena Barrett from Edinburgh Arts Festival joined in together with parents who shared their skills making origami propellers and ghosts.

Model movie set and the 360 camera from Napier University
Model movie set and the 360 camera from Napier University

The next step was a music session with Jed and The Submariners Rap was born. Napier University then stepped in with their amazing 360 degree go-pro camera and the class made a music video to go with their song.


The Thrive Archive cordially invite you to The Giddy Kipper Ceilidh on Monday December 5th from 7.30 to 9.30pm at Victoria Primary School, Newhaven, Edinburgh. So polish up your dancing shoes and get ready for a new reel, a new ceilidh band, 2 live choirs and a mug of soup provided by The Real Junk Food Project Edinburgh.

P7's dazzle their classroom at Victoria PrimaryP7’s dazzle their classroom at Victoria Primary

Fresh frae the Forth! Photo credit Sheila Masson

New stories and new songs!

There was once a willow tree in Fishermen’s park in Newhaven, it was said that if the tree were to die or be cut down then the fishing would leave Newhaven – the park was built upon, the tree lost and the fishing industry that sustained the village is gone.

The tree supplied the raw materials essential for the work of the village. A readily available crop harvested twice a year, the supple willow was woven into the creels that the famous fishwives carried. With 10 stone of fish on their backs both women and girls as young at 15 walked into Edinburgh every day. The willow was woven into many different designs, the lobster and crab pots, the cran that was both a measurement and a basket used to unload and sell the fish and the skulls.

We all like a good story but elders of the Newhaven Community Choir couldn’t remember ever seeing the tree!  Then a letter from the archives of The University of British Columbia solved the mystery. The sad story was transcribed in the 19th Century from a Newhaven Bow-tow who was living there. The story will break your heart and we are using it to write a new song thanks to funding from The Edward Marshall Trust. Their grant will enable us to write a series of new songs in the community through our intergenerational project ‘A Nest of Songbirds’.

Newhaven lighthouse image by Kate Downie
Newhaven lighthouse image by Kate Downie

The choir recently sang at The Leith Festival in front of The Edinburgh Art Festivals’ dazzle ship Everywoman designed and painted by Ciara Phillips and a group of women artists. Our own songbird and artist Kate Downie also helped us with the image for our leaflets.

Razzle dazzle them
Razzle dazzle them

So come and join us Tuesday evenings 6.30 – 8pm at Victoria Primary School in Newhaven, Edinburgh. For more details see our lovely leaflet printed by Out of the Blueprint in sunny Leith.

Riso printed at Out of the Blue
Riso printed at Out of the Blue



Razzle dazzle them

Give them the old ‘Razzle-Dazzle’


We are delighted to announce that we have been awarded a grant from the Edward Marshall Trust to build community in Newhaven. The grant will enable The Thrive Archive to help Newhaven Community Choir to write some new songs in the autumn term to tell their story. We will also be working with local schools too and we have a fabulous line up of tutors available. So get set to write and sing some new songs! Songbird sessions will take place at Victoria Primary on Tuesday evenings from September 6.30pm – 8 pm all are welcome and sessions are free.

Newhaven Community Choir at Dazzle Ship in Leith
Newhaven Community Choir at Dazzle Ship in Leith

Details will be posted on the Newhaven Community Choir’s website.

Fresh frae the Forth! Photo credit Sheila Masson

Funding bids and fishy business

What a busy March! We have been up to our necks in writing funding bids here at The Thrive Archive. Following some good advice from Creative Scotland our research bid for  Come Awa has been redrafted and our big community project A Nest of Songbirds saw us flash-mobbing the port one sunny afternoon.

Fish market Square flash mob photo credit Sheila Masson
Fishmarket Square flash mob photo credit Sheila Masson

The story goes that there was once a willow tree in Fishermen’s Park. It supplied the raw materials for creels, skulls, crans and crab pots all used in the fishing industry. If the tree were to die then the fishing would stop. Today the park has been built on but Newhaven proudly boasts the finest Sculpture workshop in Scotland, the oldest school in Edinburgh – Victoria Primary – with the Wee Museum inside and so the youngest curators in Europe. So the perfect place to host the fishiest flash mob in history.

Songbirds - photo credit Sheila Masson
Songbirds – photo credit Sheila Masson

The bid title A Nest of Songbirds comes from a description of Newhaven in the 19th century when the village hosted 2 famous choirs. The bid is to enable a collaborative art project to effectively plan and develop a multi site specific performance to build community and to re-establish Willow as a sculptural resource in Newhaven. Working across the arts the project would include, design, new music, willow sculpture, a giant drawing, basket making and song and dance with local schools with the community and naturally the Newhaven Community Choir.

Trustee's got goody bag of kippers thanks to Welch's Fishmongers. Photo credit Sheila Masson
Trustee’s got goody bag of kippers thanks to Welch’s Fishmongers. Photo credit Sheila Masson

Please keep everything crossed for us. With the wind in the right direction we will hear more about our bids later in May and early in June! Sheila Masson kindly recorded our bid presentation  that involved members of the choir flash mobbing us around the village, a goody bag of kippers thanks to Welch’s fishmongers and a song from Victoria School’s fantastic junior choir. No sooner had we sung ‘Nae boats noo doon by the harbour’ than the one remaining fisherman headed into port and unloaded his fresh sell fish onto the quayside!



Will you walk a mile in another man's shoes?

Fortune favours only prepared minds

It has been a busy couple of weeks catching up with various projects in various stages of development.

The FST – Federation of Scottish Theatre – Emporium at Musselburgh led to a series of interesting conversations and opportunities. Following ‘Kiss and Tell’ our day of stories for Syria I received a tip to read ‘Hinterland’ by Caroline Brothers. If you are interested in journeys and the experience of migrants and haven’t read it yet – do so!

This moving journey chimes with our theme of economic migration. How far are we prepared to travel to feed our bairns and what can we learn from those who travelled the road before us?

We are currently on the funding trail for our next project “Come Awa!” which will search out and work with stories about the gutting quines, the herring girls’ annual migration and how the different coastal communities welcomed them as they followed the herring around the coast of Scotland and down the east coast all the way to Yarmouth Town.

May the road rise up to meet us!

Liz Balfour kindly made us a willow creel
Liz Balfour kindly made us a willow creel
A canny bunch! Photo credit Sheila Masson

Building community – ripples in the pond.

The Thrive Archive’s mission is to enable diverse communities to tell their own story in their own way so we were delighted to hear about the success of ‘Heave Awa’.

Last week The Newhaven Community Choir proudly presented ‘Heave Awa’ an evening packed with story and song. Written by three local residents for the Newhaven Community Choir ‘Heave Awa’ was performed to an appreciative crowd at David Lloyd Newhaven.

The venue was appropriate as 100 years ago the land on which the sports centre stands was yet to be reclaimed and, with a tight knit community and a bounty of local shops, Newhaven was thriving.

Written by choir members Dougie, Sophia and George ‘Heave Awa’ complemented an exhibition of photographs, taken in Newhaven in the 50’s, curated by the Newhaven Heritage Group. The exhibition, that shows images of the village before ‘the clearances’ in the 60’s, is now on tour to Victoria Primary School and Ocean Terminal in Leith.

When the local heritage group were faced with a tight budget these three feisty and canny Bowtow’s – all with many a story to tell – stepped up to the plate and wrote ‘Heave Awa’. Donations from the audience were then split between the heritage group and the choir to top up the funds of these two important community resources.

Storyteller Marie Louise Cochrane, our curator Jan Bee Brown and Willow Weaver Liz Balfour had the pleasure of working with Newhaven Community Choir last year to create ‘Caller-Ou!’ at the National Library of Scotland.

Many congratulations to all concerned it’s great to see this ripple in the pond! The Thrive Archive is doing exactly what it says on the tin!

give and take

Stories for Syria

A story is like a cat – it finds you, jumps into your lap and starts to purr…

The Thrive Archive is proud to present a day of stories, soup and song on February 21st 2016 to raise funds for Syrian refugees.

We love telling stories and as part of our artistic residency with Edinburgh Palette at St Margaret’s House in Edinburgh we are delighted to be hosting the final day in a week of creative fund raising activity. Continuing to explore our theme Hearth Heart Earth we will be asking: what does it feel like to give and what does it mean to receive?

Stories, soup and song Sunday 21st February 2016
Stories, soup and song Sunday 21st February 2016




Lorna Shields from award winning storytellers "It's in the bag!"
Lorna Shields from award winning storytellers “It’s in the bag!”


A Teddy Bear’s Picnic story session will be taking place in G25 on the ground floor in the morning from 11-11.45am with Lorna Shields part of the award winning company “It’s in the bag!” Her stories are suitable for children 0-6 and their big people – don’t forget to bring your best bear!








Soup for the Soul – in the Library with a ladle between 12 and 1.30 The Real Junk Food Project Edinburgh will be providing delicious soup with bread, cheese and pickles from awesome local producers Breadshare and Dollop & Scoff. All food is intercepted locally before it goes to waste and you simply pay what you feel your meal is worth.

Second helpings of Soup in the Library
Second helpings of Soup in the Library

Exhibition spaces on the 3rd floor will be open for you to enjoy all day and our giving quilt will be waiting for donations of stitches and wishes before taking centre stage in G25 from 2-4pm for Kiss and Tell a selection of 10 – minute stories and song from around the world with storytellers, choirs and talented local musicians. Suitable for ages 12+ there will be a crèche available for tots and toddlers from 1.45 – 4.15 on the ground floor.

Donate a stitch to our Giving Quilt
Donate a stitch to our Giving Quilt

Bring any spare warm clothing to donate, all events are on a first come first served basis and are free on entry, simply pay what you feel they are worth at the end. Proceeds go to Re-Act who will distribute the clothing. For more information on the stories follow and like our Facebook Page.



Heather Scott's Tree of Life

Gretna 100 – legacy in the can

Earlier this year we worked with Citizen Curator and Out of The Blue on the Gretna 100 project. Our curator Jan Bee Brown led a group of community researchers on a 10 week journey to create an exhibition at The Drill Hall to commemorate the Gretna Rail Disaster. The site specific exhibition 7 of the Seventh complemented Active Enquiry’s promenade community play Persevere.

Recently the flexible exhibition was re- installed for Previously ,the Leith History Festival and the week finished with Rare Bird Media‘s film showing. Ray Bird followed the project from start to finish and his film clearly shows how a diverse community came together to both remember and create history. You can see the film by following this link:



Headmistress Laura Thomson teaches us in the actions photo-credit Sheila Masson Photography


Fresh frae the Forth – It’s time to sing whilst we work! On Sunday November 1st The Thrive Archive presented an hour of story and song with Newhaven Community Choir at The National Library of Scotland.

Oh fit'll we dae wi the Herrings Head?
Oh fit’ll we dae wi the Herrings Head? photo-credit Sheila Masson Photography

Commissioned by the outreach team for The Scottish International Storytelling Festival 2015 our curator Jan Bee Brown worked with the choir and storyteller Marie Louise Cochrane to celebrate the feisty fishwives of Newhaven and their community in response to the wonderful exhibition Lifting the Lid .

Photo credit Sheila Masson Rehearsing with The Newhaven Community Choir at Victoria Primary School
Rehearsing with The Newhaven Community Choir at Victoria Primary School photo-credit Sheila Masson Photography

Jed Milroy leads the choir set up by Citizen Curator two years ago.  They sing a mixture of soul and folk ballads as well as tackling traditional fishy songs from the repertoire of the famous Fishwives and Fisherlassies’ Choirs. Their USP is that they always get the audience singing along.

Audience participation photo-credit Sheila Masson Photography
Audience participation photo-credit Sheila Masson Photography

We followed the story of one young lassie – Charlotte Eadie (Chatty -for short) who, losing her job in a factory in Leith when the heroes came home after The First World War followed the herring. Her daughter is in the choir and Chatty’s heart-breaking adventures as a gutting quine moved us all so much that we have now found our next research project Come Awa – the title comes from the famous Song of the Fish Gutters:

Come all ye fisher lassies now and come awa wi me,

Fae Cairnbulg and Gamrie and fae Inverallochie,

Fae Buckie and fae Aiberdeen and a’ the country roon,

We’re awa tae gut the herrin, we’re awa tae Yermouth Toon.

Newhaven Gutting Quines in Yarmouth
Newhaven Gutting Quines in Yarmouth photo courtesy of Sophia Abrahamson



Monoprint Mondays

Soup for Story Swap

We had such fun playing with Creative Carbon’s Re-See 3 it exhibition that we are running a series of carbon friendly bite size events at The Thrive Archive as part of our residency at St Margaret’s House this winter.

Memorable meals?
Memorable meals?

As we are ‘a sandwich short of a picnic’ in funding terms our pop up events will be tasty morsels or light bites as we team up with food entrepreneurs including The Real Junk Food Edinburgh team and breadshare community bakers to intercept good food going to waste for our Soup for Story Swap.

Link Up Ladies who lunch
Link Up Ladies who lunch

Earlier this year we ran a series of mono-print workshops with the lovely Link – Up ladies support group and they shared some fabulous stories with us. We have all had a memorable festive meal…share yours on Sunday 13th and get a free mug of heart-warming vegetable soup, a chunk of delicious artisan bread and a wee festive gift of relish from our bonny friends Dollop & Scoff!