Galashiels gets ready to pay tribute to Coulter’s Candy

Sculpture of Robert Coltart with a boy and girl

Published: Wednesday, 28th August 2019

A final appeal is being made to relatives of Robert Coltart to come forward ahead of the unveiling of a sculpture in Galashiels dedicated to the writer of the world famous lullaby Ally Bally Bee.

The tribute to the 19th century Galashiels weaver-turned sweetmaker Coltart is to be revealed on Friday 20 September, with Innerleithen sculptor Angela Hunter putting the final touches to the Coulter’s Candy artwork.

The finished piece is to be installed in the Market Square in Galashiels, as part of a new town trail project which is being supported by the Scottish Government, who provided a £1.18million grant last year to help fund a number of regeneration projects in the town.

The funding from the Scottish Government is also supporting new visitor signage and improvements to Channel Street and Douglas Bridge, as well as helping to fund the Great Tapestry of Scotland visitor attraction.

Any relatives who wish to come along to the unveiling are asked to email Graeme McIver - [email protected]

School design competition

As part of the project, local schools took part in a Coulter’s Candy inspired design competition which will see six artworks by pupils displayed on flagpole banners across the town centre ahead of the unveiling.

The same pupils will also be involved in the 20 September ceremony, tying coloured ribbons to the sweet tray on the statue to recreate how Robert Coltart advertised his products as he travelled around the town and the Scottish Borders.


The pupils to win the Coulter’s Candy design competition were:

  • Kaitlyn Martin and Isla Train (Glendinning Primary)
  • Joe Dunkerley, Ellie Cockburn and Atom McCulloch (St Peter’s Primary)
  • Emma McCall, Amelita Solokovas and Nicole Handa (Burgh Primary)
  • Maisie Pringle and Malina Corrin (Balmoral Primary)
  • Sophie Wood (Langlee Primary)
  • Callum Crooks, Maha Kellezli and William Scott (Galashiels Academy).

The design for the tribute was approved by the Galashiels Stakeholder Group earlier this year and will see sculptures of a boy and girl added by the end of 2019. An interpretation panel will also be installed.

Graeme McIver, local historian

“I am delighted that after a lot of hard work by a number of people and organisations that we are now ready to unveil a permanent tribute to one of Galashiels’ most flamboyant characters.

“Robert Coltart moved to Galashiels as a young man and sold his boiled sweets around the town and across the Scottish Borders at fairs and festivals.

“He lived with his wife and children in various locations within the town, including a flat in Overhaugh Street which is include in the new town trail.

“He would dress in a variety of colourful clothes, and sang his much loved lullaby song to help advertise his wares.

“We have already spoken to a number of family relatives of Robert Coltart, but would love to have more of his relations present at the sculpture unveiling to help us celebrate his story.

“We hope this tribute will help promote Galashiels to visitors and increase the awareness and pride amongst local people in the Coulter’s Candy story.”

Helen Calde, Energise Galashiels Trust

“We felt it was important to have young people involved in the Coulter’s Candy celebrations, which is why we launched the banner competition.

“We are delighted to be able to show their final designs across the town, which will aim to also advertise the presence of the new statue and town trail as one of a number of exciting projects being taken forward in Galashiels.”

Councillor Mark Rowley, Executive Member for Business and Economic Development

 “The Coulter’s Candy project has been a real partnership between the Council and the community which is part of an overall plan to regenerate Galashiels into a visitor destination.

“This partnership work will continue to ensure Galashiels is ready to grasp the opportunities presented by the Borders Railway and arrival of the Great Tapestry of Scotland visitor attraction - which helped secure the overall support from the Scottish Government Regeneration Grant Fund.”

Further Information

An image of the agreed design for Coulter Candy sculpture is available on our Flickr page.

Regeneration of Galashiels

  • The regeneration of Galashiels aims to capitalise on the success of the Borders Railway, which has presented a series of opportunities for Galashiels and the Borders, with the area seeing an increase in visitor figures
  • A partnership approach, including ourselves, Energise Galashiels Trust, charity Live Borders and businesses and community groups, will aim to do this through a series of initiatives which will create a number of economic, social and educational benefits to transform the town
  • The Great Tapestry of Scotland visitor attraction will be the catalyst to re-shape the town and encourage investment in Galashiels and the wider Borders economy.
  • It is predicted to attract over 50,000 people to Galashiels each year once opened, as well as creating 16 posts at the facility. In addition, almost £900,000 of extra spending per year is predicted for the local economy, providing 12,000 extra visits to complementary attractions, supporting a further 17 jobs.
  • The regeneration of Galashiels has the support of the Scottish Government through the Borders Railway Blueprint programme, as well as community groups such as Energise Galashiels Trust.
  • Updates are being provided on our website.