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SCOTLAND'S rich history of scientists, inventors and novelists is providing lucrative business for a Peebles sculpture company.

When Beltane Studios won the commission to produce commemorative plaques to celebrate significant Scots from the past they had no idea just how long the list was going to be.

The Historic Environment Scotland project aimed to honour under-represented figures from the country’s past.

And the initial handful of almost forgotten Scots who were selected from nominations provided a steady supply of work for the bronzesmiths in Peebles.

But the stream of heroes from the past, who are deserving of a plaque, has continued to flow into the Beltane Studios.

And Historic Environment Scotland were so pleased with the stunning bronze designs that they also commissioned the Peebles studio to produce plaques to celebrate the Forth Bridge winning World Heritage status.

This week Iomhar Maciver from Beltane Studios joined Transport Minister Humza Yousaf to unveil the first of five plaques produced in Peebles on the 127-year-old rail bridge.

Dr Miles Oglethorpe of Historic Environment Scotland told us: “Working with our partners in the Forth Bridges Forum to win the World Heritage listing was an amazing experience, and it’s fitting we’re able to commemorate this achievement with the first of a number of plaques in the vicinity of the Bridge.

"We were delighted to receive our specially designed World Heritage logo from UNESCO, and it was fantastic to see it transformed into beautiful plaques by Beltane Studios in Peebles.”

Historic Environment Scotland's predecessor, Historic Scotland, launched the plaque scheme back in 2012 to honour almost forgotten Scots from the past who had made a valuable contribution.

A public poll was opened with hundreds of nominations coming forward, including artists, scientists, inventors, philanthropists, actors, engineers, explorers, suffragettes, poets, politicians, writers and architects.

Modelled on the blue plaques administered by English Heritage, the Scottish commemorations are also fixed to the person’s previous home or a building which was synonymous with their achievements.

Since the first recipients were announced in 2013 the list grows every year.

And, as of last year, a total of 43 plaques had been awarded.

Iomhar told us: "This is an ongoing contract with Historic Environment Scotland. I guess as long as there are people to commemorate there will be orders for new plaques.

"We did ten plaques last year as well as the five for the Forth Bridge - this year we are making 18 plaques for all sorts of people.

"It is always interesting to find out who's plaque we'll be making next."

Recent plaque recipients have included poet, playwright and publisher Allan Ramsay, who has an historic coaching inn in Carlops named after him, comic actor Stan Laurel, who grew up in Glasgow, war poet Wilfred Owen, who taught briefly at Tynecastle School in Edinburgh, and steam pioneer James Watt, who now has a plaque on his former workshop near Bo’ness.

With plaque orders showing no sign of slowing down the three-strong team at Beltane Studios has devised a way of simplifying and shortening the manufacturing process.

Iomhar added: "We are the only bronze studio to now have a computer controlled process which has done away with need for creating a pattern for a rubber mould.

"This has made the manufacturing of the plaques much less time consuming."

Other plaques which have recently been made in Peebles are for the likes of German physicist and mathematician Max Born, social reformer Mary Lily Walker, romantic novelist DE Stevenson, missionary Jane Haining, biographer and diarist James Boswell, and locomotive engineer Sir Nigel Gresley.

Each year Historic Environment Scotland reopens its nominations process with the only criteria is that the person nominated has been deceased for at least 20 years, and that the building where the plaque is to be erected has a close connection to that person.

Martin Ross from Historic Environment Scotland said: "The form of a building can say a great deal about the character of the particular person who lived or worked there.

"It can confirm assumptions or, in other cases, come as a complete surprise, casting a new aspect on the individual concerned.

"The Commemorative Plaque scheme is a wonderful and visual way to recognise people who have made a difference to the world around us, as well as to publicise their links with buildings that many members of the public may think of as insignificant.

"In previous years we have received applications for some undoubted luminaries of Scottish society, as well as a few less-celebrated, but just as important, individuals and groups.

"Plaques have been made to recognise the contribution of famous poets, Arctic explorers, inventors, literary figures, artists, politicians, inventors, and drivers of social change."