South Scotland

National children's literature centre in Dumfries complete

Dame Barbara Kelly Image copyright Colin Hattersley
Image caption Dame Barbara Kelly said the opening was "a great day for Scotland"

The multi-million pound transformation of a derelict Dumfries building into a national centre for children's literature has been completed.

The Moat Brae building - where Peter Pan author JM Barrie played as a child - opens to the public on Saturday.

He credited its "enchanted land" as helping to inspire his famous work.

The building was saved from demolition nearly a decade ago and now hopes to become a major tourist attraction for the south of Scotland.

Image copyright Colin Hattersley
Image caption PPMBT patron Joanna Lumley said the restoration was a "wonderful achievement"

The fundraising campaign to restore the building was led by the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust (PPMBT).

Patron Joanna Lumley said: "The moment you step into Moat Brae you understand why JM Barrie called it 'enchanted land'.

"It is fantastic that children and young people everywhere can now have the chance to enjoy its magic, discover the joys of Peter Pan, and revel in other children's literature and stories from many different times, places and cultures.

"It's a wonderful achievement."

Image copyright Colin Hattersley
Image caption The house in Dumfries will open on Saturday as a national centre for children's literature

The building offers a range of facilities including an exhibition space and wedding and party venue as well as a storytelling and literature centre.

Centre director Dr Simon Davidson explained how the property had been divided up.

"The main attraction, I suppose, is split up into three levels," he said.

"On the ground floor we have tried to recreate the world that JM Barrie would have come to visit in the 1870s.

"On the second floor it is much more about reading - so that is where the library will be located for the most part and we have various different spaces that they can go into and read.

"Then on the top floor there is even more to do with play because that is the attic area - the Darling nursery - which has got the interactive games."

Image copyright Colin Hattersley
Image caption A range of attractions are on offer at Moat Brae house and in the gardens

Dame Barbara Kelly, who chairs the PPMBT, said that although it was a local project, it was also good news for the country as a whole.

"It has been a huge investment - we have been very fortunate in that we have managed to gather the millions of pounds required to deliver the project," she said.

"But we have created, at the moment, 18 jobs in the town.

"So it is a great day for Moat Brae, a great day for Dumfries and Galloway and also, in my view, a great day for Scotland."

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