South Scotland

Kirkcudbright school's conversion to dark sky centre begins

Dark Sky Park Image copyright PA Media
Image caption The nearby Galloway Forest Park achieved dark sky status nearly a decade ago

Work has started to convert an old school in southern Scotland into a dark sky visitor centre.

The £2.5m project at the former Johnston Primary in Kirkcudbright will include a planetarium.

The nearby Galloway Forest has enjoyed dark sky status - recognition as one of the best places for stargazing in the world - for nearly a decade.

The school overhaul will see a wide range of other facilities included in a bid to boost tourism and create jobs.

Image copyright Google
Image caption The Johnston Primary conversion is aimed at boosting visitor numbers

Lesley Garbutt, who chairs the Kirkcudbright Development Trust, said: "This is the beginning of the next phase of our redevelopment of a much loved building.

"It has been a long haul, but I am sure that everyone will be delighted with the results when we open the doors next year."

Galloway Glens project officer Nick Chisholm said the scheme could help inspire the next generation of stargazers.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The area has been recognised internationally for the quality of its stargazing opportunities

"The Galloway Forest dark sky park is one of the treasures of Galloway, there are few better places in the UK to witness the majesty of the cosmos," he said.

"It could be daunting for a budding astronomer to access this without support and information, but the facility being developed in the Johnston School provides the perfect introduction.

"The tie in with the Glasgow Science Centre, Scotland's leading educational science attraction only increases value of this new attraction."

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