Forfar’s future could be boosted by pride in the bridie, according to an expert on small towns.
Cliff Hague is chairman of the Built Environment Forum Scotland, which has looked at the problems Scottish towns are facing and how they can be tackled.
He has now visited Forfar to attend a meeting along with business owners, community council members and other residents.
Mr Hague, 69, said: “Some issues had been identified, and the promotion of the town centre was a key concern. That’s what the meeting was about, in particular online promotion.
“Somebody had seen the stuff we’d done on small towns and that’s why we were invited.”
Mr Hague said there were “clear strengths” in the town, but added: “There’s not a lot on the web saying ‘this is the kind of place Forfar is’.”
He believed promoting existing aspects of the town such as the bridie and its potential to be a “gateway” to the glens and Highlands was vital. He said: “There’s a coherent structure in the town centre, and there’s a sense of heritage and tradition.
“There weren’t many vacant shops. I didn’t have a feeling that the place is on the slide. It seemed to add up to somewhere that’s quite attractive to people outside the town, as well as in the town.”
The BEFS previously identified Arbroath as one of several small Scottish towns that was under threat, and that some of the same issues face Forfar.
He said: “Like everywhere, there’s probably a vulnerability to online shopping. Some retailers in town are online themselves, but not everybody is. That seemed to be one thing people were looking at.”
Mr Hague is set to speak about the BEFS’s research on small towns at an international meeting in Belgium, and said: “I’ll mention bridies out there as well.”
Bridies are said to have been invented by a Forfar baker in the 1850s. The name may refer to the pie’s frequent presence on wedding menus, or to Margaret Bridie of Glamis, who sold them at the Buttermarket in Forfar. They are similar to pasties, but because they are made without potatoes, are much lighter in texture.