New tourist at­trac­tion at the for­mer home of Robert Burns could cre­ate jobs boost

Dumfries & Galloway Standard - - FRONT PAGE - SHARON LIPTROTT

Am­bi­tious plans have been re­vealed to cre­ate a £10 mil­lion tourist at­trac­tion at the for­mer home of Robert Burns at El­lis­land Farm, near Dum­fries.

And it is hoped that the scheme could even­tu­ally lead to em­ploy­ment for more than 50 peo­ple.

The pro­posed devel­op­ment has been drawn up by the El­lis­land Trust, which man­ages the Auld­girth site gifted to the na­tion in 1928 by two Duris­deer brothers.

Cu­ra­tor Stu­art Cochrane said: “It is so ex­cit­ing. There hasn’t been any­thing like this be­fore in Dum­fries and Gal­loway on this scale. It is a ma­jor world site, a listed Grade A na­tional as­set and there will be a huge eco­nomic ben­e­fit for the re­gion. “There will be fundrais­ing across the world to make it hap­pen. And we are con­fi­dent that up to 60 per cent will come from var­i­ous fund­ing and char­i­ta­ble or­gan­i­sa­tions.” The 150 acres of land, house and farm build­ings are to un­dergo ma­jor changes through the plans which were ap­proved by the trust over the Christ­mas break. It fol­lows a year of talks in­volv­ing nu­mer­ous or­gan­i­sa­tions in­clud­ing Dum­fries and Gal­loway Coun­cil, the Scot­tish En­vi­ron­ment Pro­tec­tion Agency and Visit Scot­land, the Na­tional Trust, the Glas­gow Univer­sity

Cen­tre for Robert Burns Stud­ies and de­scen­dants of the Bard.

Burns en­thu­si­asts around the globe, fi­nan­cial bod­ies and char­i­ta­ble or­gan­i­sa­tions will now be asked to con­trib­ute to the cost of mak­ing it hap­pen for 2021.

It was the only house built by Burns and is re­garded by his de­scen­dants as their “spir­i­tual home”.

Three fam­i­lies – who live in Stir­ling, Eng­land and the USA – plan to gift ar­ti­facts from their pri­vate col­lec­tion – which in­cludes cloth­ing, paint­ings, po­ems, let­ters, fur­ni­ture and per­sonal ef­fects which be­longed to Burns – for per­ma­nent dis­play at El­lis­land.

Stu­art said: “This has to save El­lis­land, make it vi­able for the fu­ture and bring the world in to visit.

“We have to get it right. It has taken a year to get to this stage but it all moves on from here. We now know what we are do­ing and are ready to make it hap­pen.”

Burns built the house at El­lis­land in 1788 for his bride, Jean Ar­mour, and it is widely re­garded as the pre­mier site as­so­ci­ated with Scot­land’s na­tional poet where he wrote the sec­ond most sung song in the world – Auld Lang Syne, as well as many works in­clud­ing Tam O’Shanter.

The plans in­clude turn­ing the clock back by trans­form­ing the house as to how it looked in 1791. It will re­cap­ture the El­lis­land which Burns cre­ated and lived in and show ru­ral Scot­tish life in the 18th cen­tury.

Other build­ings will then be used to give an in­ter­ac­tive mod­ern liv­ing in­ter­pre­ta­tion for vis­i­tors.

The plans also in­clude a new eco­log­i­cal build­ing made from wood, stone and tin which will be cre­ated half un­der­ground near the Nith to look like a farm steading.

It will house a mu­seum for the col­lec­tion of 150 El­lis­land items which be­longed to the poet and came with the farm in 1928 – hailed as “one of the world’s most im­por­tant col­lec­tions of Burns trea­sures” – plus the newly gifted le­gacy items.

There will also be a cafe and vis­i­tor cen­tre, pic­nic ar­eas, con­tem­po­rary art sculp­tures across the site, walks and wildlife ar­eas.

Mak­ing plans for El­lis­land Stu­art Cochrane looks over the plans for the new tourist at­trac­tion which would be built at the for­mer home of Burns

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