£2m lottery funding pledge for Cowane's Hospital
An under-threat 17th Century building in Stirling has secured £2m of Heritage Lottery funding.
Cowane's Hospital is deteriorating rapidly and recently had to close to the public due to lack of funds and rising costs.
The hospital's maintenance trust said an estimated £3m was needed for major repair work on the historic almshouse.
It is hoped the hospital could reopen as a national visitor attraction and community resource.
The hospital was founded in the 1630s by Stirling benefactor John Cowane to provide shelter for impoverished merchants.
The trust plans to create a visitor attraction telling the story of how modern Scotland was made, through trade, charity and leisure.
Hazel Barton, charity officer for the Cowane's Maintenance Trust, said the funding boost was "the best possible news".
She said: "Cowane's is an important part of our national heritage and it has been terribly sad to see it deteriorate.
"The building and the charity founded by John Cowane have been important to our community for 400 years, providing help and support for others. It's great that this wonderful building is receiving the helping hand it needs to put it back at the heart of local and national life."
The renovated hospital will include restored historic rooms and kitchens, with the gardens and bowling green also returned to their 18th century splendour.
Major works, including a new roof, are needed before the building, which has also been targeted by vandals, can be re-opened to the public.
The hospital was more recently the headquarters of Cowane's Trust, Scotland's second oldest functioning charity, before it moved out when the building was no longer fit for purpose.
The trust has to develop details of the restoration works and the heritage activities before the earmarked funds can be accessed.
It also needs to secure the remaining funds and satisfy Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) that everything is in place for the project to be delivered.
This phase is estimated to be complete by summer 2017, with work starting on the building by the end of that year.
Lucy Casot, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: "Cowane's Hospital has a fascinating history stretching back almost 500 years.
"We are delighted that thanks to players of the National Lottery, HLF can support the development of a project which will capture and share this history, revitalising a rare building at the heart of Stirling's historic quarter as a tourist attraction."