Island pupils take on tour guide roles

The pupils outside Arnol Blackhouse.
The pupils outside Arnol Blackhouse.

Pupils from Sgoil an Taobh Siar – West Side Primary School – in Barvas, Lewis, will be taking up their new roles as Historic Scotland Junior Tour Guides at the Blackhouse, Arnol following their graduation.

Over the course of the past three months 20 pupils from primary five, six and seven, have been discovering more about Lewis’ past and its Blackhouses, and the life of the Hebridean crofters who once called them home.

As part of their guiding roles at the Blackhouse, the West Side Primary pupils will be stepping back in time to take on the characters of their 1950s counterparts, as they offer tours to visiting school groups, providing an insight into what island life might have been like more than 60 years ago.

Historic Scotland’s Junior Tour Guide initiative, which has been running at the Blackhouse since 2009, helps to engage local school pupils with their local history and heritage, enabling them to explore the past in a new and exciting way. Through their training, the children also have the opportunity to develop important skills, whilst trying their hand at new ones such as performance and drama.

These special tours, ran entirely by the school pupils, which will involve Gaelic language, will explore what life was like in the Blackhouse, with its open peat fires and livestock and family under one roof, and compare this to the 1950s Whitehouse which represented a move away from the Blackhouse way of life.

Commenting on the Junior Tour Guide Graduation at the Blackhouse, Sylvie Clarke, Learning Development Officer for Historic Scotland, said: “All of the pupils have been working extremely hard over the past few months, perfecting their lines and discovering more about the history of the Blackhouse.

“It was wonderful to see them embrace the project and seeing them undertake their first tour as Historic Scotland Junior Tour Guides. The guides really add something additional to the visitor experience and they are looking forward to introducing this unique historical attraction to other school groups.”

Pupils from Sgoil an Taobh Siar (West Side Primary School) will be offering tours to other school groups during term times throughout 2015 and 2016. For more information and to book please contact the Blackhouse, Arnol on 01851 710395.