The newly opened Moat Brae – Scotland’s new National Centre for Storytelling and Children’s Literature – has been declared as absolutely fabulous by Joanna Lumley.
The opening of Moat Brae, the house and garden where Peter Pan began, was celebrated with a colourful garden party hosted the trustees of the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust (PPMBT) along with Patron Joanna Lumley.
Among the guests at Friday afternoon’s event, which was held to thank supporters and funders and welcome future partners, was Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Culture and Tourism Fiona Hyslop MSP.
Saved from demolition 10 years ago the beautiful Georgian property overlooking the river Nith, in Dumfries, has been restored and transformed into.
As patron of the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust (PPMBT) Joanna Lumley championed the £8 million fundraising campaign which turned the derelict building into an international visitor attraction expected to attract 31,000 people a year and bring £1.3 million to the area’s economy.
Moat Brae was where the young J.M. Barrie and his friends played the games that inspired Peter Pan, and the trust’s ambition has been to make it into a place that will fire young people’s imaginations and creativity.
Joanna said: ‘Moat Brae proves that dreams really can come true. Children and young people from Scotland and far beyond now have a place that’s dedicated not just to Peter Pan, but to the love of all children’s stories and literature.
‘They can come here to play, daydream and build their creative imaginations, just like J.M. Barrie did.
‘And with the doors about to open to the public it’s wonderful to have been able to attend this party and say a personal “thank you” to all those who have made this day possible – and to welcome some of those we will work with in the future.’
Dame Barbara Kelly, PPMBT Chairman, added: ‘Moat Brae is a magical place. Its opening to the public, after a decade of hard work by so many people, is a great moment for Moat Brae, for Dumfries and for Scotland.’
Among the key partners are Heritage Lottery Fund, The Castansa Trust, Historic Environment Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Government, Dumfries & Galloway Council and Creative Scotland and The Robertson Trust. There have also been many other funders.
Ms Hyslop said: ‘It’s a pleasure to see the house and garden which inspired J.M. Barrie being saved and given a positive new future.
‘It’s a remarkable feat which shows what can happen when the Scottish Government and its agencies work together with local authorities, charities, businesses and the community to achieve a shared vision.
‘Moat Brae is a fabulous new attraction for the whole of Scotland, and will provide a magical experience for children and young people from every part of the world.”
The house and garden fully opened to the public on Saturday.
Visitors will be able to enjoy themed interactive exhibits, reading and play areas, temporary exhibitions, a shop and café overlooking the Nith. There will be costumed guides, discovery trails and a year-round programme of inspirational activities.
Among the delightful features will be the original Tinker Bell (a small bell that J.M. Barrie bought to be rung whenever his fairy character appeared in the original stage version of the story) and a spectacular dolls’ house nearly 6ft tall.
And outside, in the grounds where JM Barrie played pirates in the 1870s, will be the Neverland Discovery Garden.
Moat Brae, which J.M. Barrie referred to as ‘enchanted land’ will stage a wide variety of events and educational programmes.
It will also celebrate the immense richness of modern and classic poems, stories and children’s literature and illustrations from at home and abroad.
See the website at https://www.peterpanmoatbrae.org