Having a blast at Glenkens Men’s Shed

The founding of a Men’s Shed in the Glenkens has been one of the best success stories in recent years.

The Men’s Shed, located behind the recently refurbished Smiddy in Balmaclellan, has established itself as a popular and well used place for a whole range of group and solo trades and activities.

The completion of the newly installed cold metal workshop allows traditional metalworking skills and heritage agricultural practices to be used in the “Shed”, with potential for training up a new generation in these skills.

The installation of the new workshop has helped to attract more interest and the Men’s Shed now have a record 39 members, including a greater proportion of women members.

The Glenkens Men’s Shed Metalwork Project, which saw the purchase of the new metal working equipment, including a Blasting Cabinet, metal working benches, rolling and bending kit, has been supported by a grant of £5000 through the Galloway Glens ‘Our Heritage’ Small Grants Scheme. Much of the equipment purchased was ex-display, getting the best value for money from the grant.

The newly installed blasting cabinet has been an unexpected success, with interest from artist communities looking at carrying out glass etching.

Additionally, the proximity to The Smiddy in Balmaclellan has increased opportunities for showcasing heritage and traditional skills. Both through events and practical application, such as hosting a local blacksmith and an aluminium smelting demo, as well as providing options for furthering sustainability through the sale of goods and services.

Chris Jowsey, Treasurer at the Glenkens Men’s Shed, said: “This new equipment will help people and communities in the area to reconnect to the heritage skills prevalent in rural and agricultural communities, such as the Glenkens. Offering opportunities to maintain, develop and pass on these traditional skills through a range of metal working activities. Visitors to the shed have been amazed at the range of facilities available and were especially impressed with the Galloway Glens supported Metal Workshop”

Jude Crooks, Galloway Glens Administrator and lead contact for the Small Grants Scheme, said the range of activities hosted in the Men’s Shed was now even wider following the purchase a suite of cold metalworking tools and equipment.

This equipment formed the centrepiece of the new metalworking room, allowing local metalworking skills and heritage agricultural practices to be used in the Men’s Shed, training up a new generation in these skills.

McNabb Laurie, Galloway Glens Team Leader, added: “While the Glenkens Men’s Shed is open to both men and women, one of the principles behind the Men’s Shed movement is that while women may communicate best face-to-face, men tend to communicate better when standing side-by-side.

“Therefore while the focus is on the skills and activities undertaken by participants, the chance to spend some social time and bond with others is a vital part of the success of the Men’s Sheds around the world – with all of the health and wellbeing benefits this brings.

Funding is received from the National Lottery with support also from Dumfries & Galloway Council and the UNESCO Biosphere.

Pictured: From left Glenkens ‘Shedders’ – Stuart Rhodes, Tam Craig, Andi Holmes, Ali Stewart.