South Scotland

Peter Pan house in Dumfries reaches funding landmark

Peter Pan house Image copyright Colin Hattersley
Image caption The house will be transformed into a centre for storytelling and children's literature

A house which helped inspire the Peter Pan story has secured the £5.3m needed to allow its conversion to a national centre for children's literature.

Author JM Barrie played in the gardens of Moat Brae in Dumfries as a child.

At one point it was facing demolition but finance has come from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Creative Scotland and Dumfries and Galloway Council.

It means work can now start on the literature and storytelling centre which should open in two years' time.

The Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust (PPMBT), which is behind the scheme, hopes it can attract 40,000 visitors a year, contributing £1.3m to the local economy.

It should create a dozen new jobs with about another 20 created indirectly by the extra visitor spending.

Image caption The gardens of the house will be given a Neverland theme

Joanna Lumley, PPMBT patron, said: "This is tremendous news for Dumfries and a lovely gift to young people everywhere.

"Moat Brae inspired JM Barrie to write one of the best-loved children's stories of all time.

"We hope it will give new generations of young people the courage and confidence they need to lead creative lives.

"It's an awfully big adventure, and this is just the start."

Dame Barbara Kelly, who chairs the trust, said it was "wonderful" that the building had been saved and now had a "new future as a major visitor attraction and a community asset at the heart of Dumfries".

"The transformation of the house and gardens will make an invaluable contribution to the town's social and economic regeneration," she said.

"It will also provide brand new opportunities for children and families for fun and discovery."

Born in Kirriemuir in Angus, Barrie moved to Dumfries in 1873 at the age of 13 and credited the "enchanted land" at Moat Brae as helping to inspire the Peter Pan story.

The works on the property will help to create:

  • exhibitions telling the story of Moat Brae and its links with JM Barrie
  • a specialist education and learning suite
  • rooms where visitors can "develop their creative potential through interactive activities"
  • a café and shop

Its Neverland Discovery Garden will have Peter Pan and Neverland-themed interactive features including:

  • a pirate ship
  • a Wendy house
  • a mermaid's lagoon
  • a performance space

Development director Cathy Agnew said it was "great" to be able to make the funding announcement.

Image caption It is hoped the centre can open to the public in 2018

"I think JM Barrie would love to know that the town, the house and the garden which so inspired him will now inspire hundreds of thousands of others," she said.

"As one of the world's most successful playwrights, he really understood the importance of igniting young people's creative imagination and so do we."

Dumfries and Galloway Council leader Ronnie Nicholson said the local authority was "delighted" to be a partner in the project.

"Children from Dumfries and Galloway, and beyond, will have a wonderful place to learn and play, attracting visitors to our region," he said.

Lucy Casot, head of the HLF in Scotland, said she looked forward to seeing the transformation of the site while Philip Deverell of Creative Scotland said it was great to see fundraising progress so well.

Further fundraising will now take place so the trust can develop a series of other features and projects at the site.

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