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Birth of a Book Town

In the mid-1990s, it was suggested that a ‘book town’ on the model of Hay-on-Wye would be a good way to help regenerate a community in Scotland. Six small towns with varying economic needs submitted bids. Half were from Dumfries & Galloway – Gatehouse of Fleet, Wigtown and Moffat. The others were Dalmellington, Dunblane and Strathaven.  An international panel chose Wigtown.


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Before the Book Town

The former county town of Wigtownshire had been at its lowest ebb. There were many empty and run-down properties, and the almost derelict County Buildings on the town square were threatened with demolition.

Wigtown then had one of the highest levels of unemployment in Scotland, but the town boasted a beautiful setting and a rich history. 

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County Buildings Renovation

Regeneration through books

Now there are more than a dozen bookshops and related businesses here.

In 1999 the new Scottish Parliament acknowledged Wigtown as Scotland’s National Book Town, and in the same year the first book festival took place.  Find out more about Wigtown Book Town and its booksellers:

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Wigtown is held up to the rest of Scotland as an example of how to reinvigorate a regional economy.

John Walsh, The Independent