Robert Coltart’s story about to be set in stone in Galashiels

Borders sculptor Angela Hunter has been commissioned to make the monument.
Borders sculptor Angela Hunter has been commissioned to make the monument.

The story of the Galashiels sweet seller responsible for penning a world-famous lullaby is to be brought to life as part of upcoming regeneration works in the town.

Robert Coltart died in 1880 at the age of 47 due to a brain tumour, but his Scots lullaby Coulter’s Candy, also known as Ali Bali Bee, remains a national favourite to this day.

The weaver-cum-poet is set to be remembered over 100 years on as Innerleithen sculptor Angela Hunter has been commissioned to produce a monument to Coltart to be erected in Market Square this year.

Angela, originally from Galashiels, is appealing to anyone with information or photos of Coltart to come forward as she’d like help to come up with her design.

“I am incredibly proud to be involved in this project,” she said.

“While Robert Coltart lived over 100 years ago, it is hoped that someone may have further information o his life, so we can make this sculpture as accurate as possible.”

The statue is being created as part of a £900,000 Scottish Government-funded streetscape improvement scheme for the town, also including new visitor signage and improvements to Channel Street and Douglas Bridge, as well as helping to fund the Great Tapestry of Scotland visitor attraction.

Local historians Graeme McIver added: “Coulter’s Candy is arguably Scotland’s best known and loved children’s song and it is fantastic that at long last there will be a permanent reminder. To coin a phrase we used during our research - ‘Ali Bali is actually from Guid Auld Galae.’

“The town has faced challenges in attracting new visitors and this statue, along with the other proposed regeneration works, will I’m sure provide a much needed boost for Galashiels.

“Angela Hunter’s work is fantastic and it has been a pleasure looking at her ideas for how the finished statue will look. I am sure it will become a much loved local attraction and will rekindle interest in the story of Robert Coltart and the song.”

Anyone with information or images of Robert Coltart can contact angie@angelahunter.co.uk.