South Scotland

Dumfries' Midsteeple box office reprieved

Image caption The box office operates out of the historic Midsteeple building in Dumfries

A closure-threatened box office in a historic south of Scotland building has been handed a reprieve.

The facility in the Midsteeple in Dumfries was due to shut later this summer as part of council cost-cutting measures.

However, a petition was launched against the move and two organisations have now stepped in to save it.

The Crichton Trust and The People's Project will provide funding to keep it open until the end of March 2020.

"Following discussions, we are now in a position to postpone our withdrawal from the Midsteeple to enable the community of Dumfries to work together to find a way to keep the Midsteeple open," said Andy Ferguson, who chairs Dumfries and Galloway Council's communities committee.

Mark Jardine, of The People's Project, said it was a "great example of local democracy in action".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Midsteeple has stood at the centre of Dumfries for more than 300 years

However, he said people had to appreciate this was "merely a stop-gap measure, buying time to find a future for one of our most iconic buildings".

"We very much welcome this decision by the council to allow breathing space while with others we consider a partnership solution to keeping the doors of this vital landmark building open," said Gwilym Gibbons, chief executive of The Crichton Trust.

"The Midsteeple is an important heritage building that has been at the heart of the Dumfries town centre and our community for well over 300 years."

Major repairs

The building has a long history in the town dating back to the early 18th Century and has been used as a prison, court room and area for storing arms and munitions.

More recently it was operated as the headquarters of the registrar of births, deaths and marriages.

A major repairs programme was carried out just over a decade ago after its bell tower had to be removed due to public safety fears.

In recent years, the box office has operated out of the ground floor selling tickets for a variety of events.

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