Peter Pan flies in to see the work begin
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.”