During World War II 20% of Dumfries’ population was Norwegian. Whalers had been caught at sea when Norway was invaded and were unable to go home, while soldiers from Norway escaped across the North Sea to Scotland. Dumfries became a refuge for these people throughout the war years and as a result much of the urban fabric began to show signs of this with a Norwegian bank, bakery, folk music shop, and most recognisably, Norway House - effectively an embassy for all Norwegians within Scotland.
While a social connection remains as Norwegian and Scottish families combined during this time, much of the physical history is now gone with only a solitary plaque remaining to tell the story of the Dumfries-Norway connection.
Looking to address this history, and the lack of interpretation within Dumfries town centre in general, Lateral North collaborated alongside the arts organisation the Stove Network to develop a series of Norwegian heritage trails and identified a series of locations where interpretation and art installations could be placed to tell the story of this forgotten history.
One such location was the Rosefield Mills which sit on the banks of the River Nith and were used as barracks for the Norwegian whalers and soldiers during World War II. Lateral North designed a whale shaped bench to reflect this history which currently sits in the Dock Park across the water from the mills themselves. The bench was commissioned by the Friends of Dock Park and fabricated by Helen Kalmijn.