South Scotland

Dumfries Peter Pan house works officially launched

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Media captionDumfries' Peter Pan house revamp work officially launched

Work has been officially launched on a £5.7m project to create a National Centre for Children's Literature and Storytelling in Dumfries.

It will see Moat Brae house which helped to inspire the story of Peter Pan fully restored and transformed over the next 18 months.

As a child, author JM Barrie played in the property and its grounds on the banks of the River Nith.

He would later credit that "enchanted land" as an inspiration.

The official launch of the works is the latest chapter in the story of bringing the prominent Dumfries building back into use.

The Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust reached its fundraising target last month and appointed contractors Balfour Beatty to carry out the works.

Image caption The works are expected to take about 18 months to complete

It is hoped that once the building is complete it will attract about 40,000 visitors a year and make a significant economic contribution.

Dame Barbara Kelly, who chairs the trust, said it was a momentous day.

"It has been a very long journey, you know, seven years ago this house was about to be bulldozed," she said.

"The fact that we have managed over the period of that time to come up with such an exciting project just can't be better.

"We were very fortunate that JM Barrie a long, long time ago publicly stated that Peter Pan began in this garden and that has given us the hook to hang the whole project on."

She said that as well as the literature centre, the site would also be a celebration of the work of architect Walter Newall.

"There are lots and lots of different strands to this project which we hope will bring in people not only locally but nationally and internationally," she added.

"It is going to have huge economic, social and artistic benefits for the whole area."

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