History buffs in Dumfries and Galloway are celebrating following the success of an online petition to get a book about the Lowland Clearances back in print.

“The Lowland Clearances”, written by former BBC journalists Peter Aitchison and Andrew Cassell, was the subject of a talk by the authors at a sold out event organised by local history group “The Glenkens Story” in New Galloway’s CatStrand last November.

The books outlines how long before the Highland Clearances, there had been an uprising in Galloway against the first of the Lowland Clearances in 1724. As the authors explained, the impact of the Lowland Clearances combined with that of the Highland Clearances mean we should describe this period of history as “the Scottish Clearances”.

Although forgotten now, across lowland Scotland, from Berwickshire to Aberdeenshire and from Galloway to Renfrewshire, thousands of people were cleared from the land by Improving landowners.

While many were forced to emigrate to survive, as Scotland’s industrial revolution gathered pace, most families had no choice but to become workers in the factories, iron works and mines.

However, as Professor Ted Cowan, who coined the phrase “Lowland Clearances” in 1978, announced at the talk, there were no copies of the book available to sell since it was out of print due to a publishing decision by Birlinn.

The next day Lucy Brown, from St John’s Town of Dalry, and Castle Douglas-based historian Alistair Livingston started an online petition asking the published Birlinn to reprint the Lowland Clearances book. The petition rapidly attracted hundreds of signatures, receiving the support of esteemed Scottish historians including Professor Tom Devine and Neil Davidson, and MSPs such as Mike Russell, Joan McAlpine and John Finnie.

In response, Birlinn agreed that to reprint the book if enough advance orders were received. The first copies of the 2016 reprint were dispatched in February.

In response to the success of the petition, Alistair Livingston said:

“I am very pleased that the Lowland Clearances is back in print. The next challenge is to make sure that it stays in print so that this important part of history is remembered.

“The best way to ensure that the Lowland Clearances stays in print is to order a copy direct from Birlinn. on this link http://www.birlinn.co.uk/The-Lowland-Clearances-9781780270692.html”

The authors hailed the success of people power and paid tribute to the petition signatories who have made this work available again.


There is more information about The Glenkens Story on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/GlenkensStory

The photograph attached shows Alistair and Lucy with their copies of the reprint. Alistair, who contributed to the Lowland Clearances, is also holding the original 2003 edition of the book.

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