Transforming Moat Brae
Find out about progress on site as the final phase of restoration and building works help to transform Moat Brae ready for opening as a National Centre for Children’s Literature and Storytelling.
February 2018: Work is progressing on site as things begin to take shape
Work is progressing well on site. Fantastic features are now being added to the garden, including the Jolly Roger Pirate Ship and the Mermaid’s Lagoon, with a rocky outcrop which isn’t actually made of rock at all! The good news is that the flower beds are now ready for planting and most of the plants will be going in over the coming months so that they can become established ready for full bloom in 2019. The planting has been specifically selected to survive the north facing sloping landscape and it reflects the different stories we are going to tell; tea plants near the café, large architectural plants near the Mermaid’s Lagoon and American plants near the American Indian encampment. There will be more surprises to come in the garden over coming months.
Work on the house and extension are also taking shape. The fantastic learning suite is almost there, with a wonderful glass frontage giving views over the garden and river Nith. The interiors are nearly ready for the first coat of paint and plans are well underway to develop the permanent interpretation and exciting temporary exhibitions reflecting our links to children’s literature and storytelling. To make this all happen we are joining forces with lots of individuals and organisations locally to showcase the best of Dumfries and Galloway.
August 2017: Our Patron, Joanna Lumley calls in to view progress on site at Moat Brae
Joanna Lumley, Patron of the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust, called in to the Birthplace of Peter Pan in Dumfries this week to see progress on the restoration of the Georgian property and landscaping of its new Neverland Discovery Garden.
The final phase of works to create a National Centre for Children’s Literature and Storytelling at Moat Brae began in April 2017 and it is hoped the new Centre will open to the public at the end of 2018. Edinburgh-based architects LDN and contractor Balfour Beatty guided Joanna around the site on the banks of the River Nith. She visited the foundations of the Mermaids Lagoon, the Home Under the Ground and discussed the plans to create an inspirational new visitor attraction which will become an important resource for the region.
Joanna said: “It is so exciting to actually stand here in JM Barrie’s ‘enchanted land’ and see our dreams for a Neverland Discovery Garden begin to come true”.
April 2017: Work Begins
Work has started to transform the house where Peter Pan began into a new national centre for children’s literature and storytelling.
Contractors Balfour Beatty, the international infrastructure group, have just taken possession of the Moat Brae site in Dumfries, after winning the £5 million contract to revive the house and garden where the young J M Barrie was inspired to create Peter Pan, his friends and their pirate foes.
Joanna Lumley, Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust Patron, said:“Sometimes dreams really can come true. It’s marvellous that work has now begun to turn this beautiful house and garden, that had gone to rack and ruin, into a national centre for literature and storytelling that will welcome children from around the world.
“I think JM Barrie would be overjoyed that the place which inspired his dreams of Peter Pan will soon be firing the imaginations of today’s children.”
The centre will open in the autumn of 2018 and will be a place to discover children’s literature and storytelling from many eras, countries and cultures. The grounds will be reinvented as a Neverland Discovery Garden.
Dame Barbara Kelly, PPMBT Chair, said: “It’s all systems go as the restoration begins and the house and garden are transformed. Moat Brae will soon become an inspirational year-round local, national and international visitor attraction and resource for all ages to enjoy.
“The project’s contribution to the economic regeneration of Dumfries is of tremendous importance and cannot be under-estimated. It will directly create at least a dozen new jobs and will provide many other opportunities for people in the area.”
Janet Archer, Chief Executive Officer at Creative Scotland said: “Creative Scotland is delighted to be supporting the creation of the National Centre for Children’s Literature and Storytelling at Moat Brae House. The centre will be a valuable national cultural resource which will delight and inspire children and adults alike. We wish the trust well with the build and look forward to its completion in 2018.”
Cathy Agnew, PPMBT Project Director, added: “Moat Brae House will be at the heart of many children’s lives – a place to discover and enjoy wonderful stories from every part of the world.
“The start of work is a very special moment, when a vision starts to become a reality. We are grateful to all those who have supported us. And it’s especially delightful that Tinker Bell, Peter and Nana were there to welcome Balfour Beatty to Neverland.”
Once complete Moat Brae will feature a learning and education suite, café, shop and magical interpretation to inspire visitors, to stimulate children’s imagination and reveal the many stories the house has to tell.
Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop, said: “The new National Centre for Children’s Literature and Storytelling will make a significant contribution to the cultural and tourism sector in Dumfries and across Scotland. Moat Brae’s link to the timeless and much-loved children’s classic, Peter Pan, will help to attract visitors from all over Scotland, the UK and overseas, and further cement Scotland’s reputation as a great storytelling nation and I have been a keen supporter since the start when Historic Scotland provided initial funding to stabilise the building.
“The Scottish Government is committed to widening access to culture and the arts for everyone in Scotland, protecting and preserving our rich heritage for future generations to enjoy and promoting the south of Scotland as a visitor destination, and I welcome the funding provided for this project through Creative Scotland and Historic Environment Scotland.”
The restoration contract was awarded after an extensive competitive tendering process.
Stephen Scott, Regional Managing Director, Balfour Beatty said: “We are delighted to be a part of this extremely unusual and historic project, to create the new home for children’s literature and storytelling.
“We will utilise our extensive knowledge of complex restoration projects and specialised conservation techniques, to ensure that we deliver a building that will inspire future generations for years to come.”
The project, which will cost £5.7 million overall, has support from The National Lottery, Creative Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland and Dumfries and Galloway Council.
Ronnie Nicholson, Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council, said: “This is a major step forward for an exciting project that promises to bring real benefits to the town centre and to the wider region. As well as creating jobs, the regeneration of Moat Brae will encourage locals and those from out with the region to come and visit Dumfries and Galloway, which is why the Council invested in the project.
“Arts and culture can play an important role in promoting social and economic goals through local regeneration, attracting tourists, the development of talent and innovation, as well as improving health and wellbeing.”