Sir Walter Scott's Abbotsford House to become Scottish tourist gem in £10 million masterplan

By Ben Miller | 27 July 2010
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A photo of a grey mansion in woodland

(Above) The garden house at Abbotsford could become a major tourist haven

A £10 million bid to turn literary giant Sir Walter Scott's 19th century Scottish mansion into one of Britain’s leading tourist attractions has won a £5 million Lottery award.

The sprawling Abbotsford House, which the Rob Roy author bought in 1811 and turned into one of the finest examples of Scottish Baronial architecture on the banks of the River Tweed, will gain new visitor and exhibition centres and learning areas, as well as restoration works to rooms which include his huge library, where more than 9,000 volumes of work are thought to be held.

"The new facilities at the visitor centre will not just benefit people going to the house but will offer a base for wider tourism across the Borders, linking walking trails and showcasing what the region has to offer," said Scottish Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop, calling the decision "fantastic news".

"The appeal of Scott played a huge part in the success of the Year of Homecoming, generating £10 million for the national economy and demonstrating the continuing international appeal of the man and his writing almost 200 years after his death."

Lord Sanderson, whose Abbotsford Trust has managed the landmark since 2004, said the development would create "a financially viable, world-class visitor attraction that will bring lasting economic and cultural benefit."

"Our plans for Abbotsford aim to create a legacy for one of Scotland's most important sons," he explained.

"We are obviously delighted with today's announcement, which means that we have now raised £9 million of the estimated £10 million we believe is required to make our vision for Abbotsford a reality."

Michael Moore, the MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, confirmed that the grant would allow match funding from the Scottish Borders Council and the Scottish Government to be used in the project.

"Sir Walter Scott is regarded as one of the most influential writers and poets of his time," he observed.

"He was the first English language writer to have an international career during his own lifetime, and it is only right that we retain a link with the man and his work.

"The restoration of the house will lead to another tourist attraction for the Borders, which will help the local economy."

Newbridge Memorial Hall, a Grade II-listed World War I memorial building in Caerphilly, has also been granted £2.9 million.

The mining town's community hub, which is home to the largest ballroom in South Wales and a notable Art Deco auditorium, will become a heritage centre run by a team of skilled volunteers.

In Devon, early 16th century Tudor house the Walronds will be fully restored with a £1.7 million investment, and Bedfordshire gardening heartland Wrest Park will spend £1.14 million on exhibition, volunteer and visitor facilities alongside training for eight up-and-coming gardeners.

A photo of a huge lake in a garden leading to a tall stone building

Bedfordshire's Wrest Park has won more than £1 million. Image: English Heritage

"What's exciting about these four projects is not just that they are all in wonderful places of historic importance, but that they will make a significant contribution to their local economies and to the quality of life of their local communities," said an optimistic Heritage Lottery Fund boss Carole Souter.

"Heritage can play an important role in economic recovery and we are anticipating an increased share of Lottery income from next year. We know how welcome this investment will be during the tough times ahead."

The HLF also offered initial support and development funding for projects at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, the Black Gate, Castle Keep and St Nicholas Cathedral Medieval quarter in Newcastle, the Grade II-listed St Mary at the Quay in Ipswich and Croome Court, a Grade I-listed 18th century mansion near Worcester.

More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
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