Tuesday, 18 December 2012

A walk through Moffat Old Academy, Monday Dec 17 2012

Walkthrough of Old Moffat Academy  2pm Monday Dec 17 2012 - pictures by Simon Tweedie, Annandale Arms hotel, Moffat


Professor Richard Demarco CBE, Demarco European Art Foundation (RD)
Terry Newman, DEF (TN)
Simon Tweedie, Annandale Arms hotel (ST)
Jim Hurren, Forestry Purposes LLP (JH)
Russell Morrison, FP LLP
Alan Thomson, MDCI ‘Creative Places’ application for Moffat (AT)
Professor Andrew Wheatcroft, publisher and chairman Moffat Book Events (AW)
Professor Alan Tait, art historian (A Tait)
Elizabeth Roberts Moffat Book Events (ER)

Alistair Johnston, D&G council property division - disposals (AJ)

The group made a thorough inspection of the building, and Alistair Johnston (AJ) gave Alan Thomson (AT) a copy of the ground plan of the building (copies to be made available to all interested parties on request).

In discussion, the following points were made:

The Building

The building exceeded expectations, in terms of size, quality of light to almost all areas and its location in the town. There is a lot of debris, old furniture and other material that needs to be cleared out of it, and running repairs to prevent water incursion from damaging the fabric.

If the building is to house valuable works of art, modern security systems,  temperature control and humidity control must be installed.  This could be an opportunity to demonstrate Scottish ‘green’ engineering skills and might attract a sponsor for this aspect.

Use of Building

The suggestion is that the building should house a ‘destination’ quality visitor experience. The ‘USP’ suggested is Scotland’s involvement in 20th and 21st century art embodied in the person and career of Richard Demarco CBE, whose involvement with the arts in Scotland and mainland Europe – notably Romania, Poland, Italy and Estonia -  spans 60 years since WWII: the visual arts, the Traverse theatre, the Fringe and social enterprise.

The Town
The town of Moffat has nothing for visitors to do on a wet day. RD pointed out that Moffat is strategically positioned very near the A74 (M), the gateway to Scotland. Its situation is an ideal jumping-off point south and west to Dumfries, Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbright and Wigtown or across the border to Carlisle and the Lake District; east to the Borders and Abbotsford, north to Edinburgh, Glasgow and the rest of Scotland.  Moffat is only 50 minutes from Glasgow and an hour and a half from Edinburgh.  Whereas the south entrance to the town features the popular Moffat Mill outlet (to be upgraded), there is nothing currently to draw visitors to the town the full length of the High St to the north end, where the Old Academy is situated.

Local heroes associated with the town or nearby include: Merlin; Robert Burns; David Hume; John Adam, architect of Moffat House; John McAdam of road-building fame; James ‘Ossian’ Macpherson; best-selling 20thcentury novelist D E Stevenson; Grand Duke Nicholas of Russia (in 1817); author Robin Jenkins (the Cone Gatherers); Thomas Carlyle; doctors to the Tsars or Court of Russia. The first savings bank, the bicycle, lending library and post office are inventions made nearby.

There is a great demand for inexpensive rehearsal space for theatre companies throughout Scotland. This could be provided within the building envelope.

Moffat is in need of rehearsal space for its many musicians.

Other uses suggested include: training in specialist quality art and furniture repair or restoration work; making of fine musical instruments eg bagpipes; welding.

Community activities

Receiving house for professional theatre and concerts.

Exhibition space for international quality art exhibitions.

Archive (including the Richard Demarco archive)

Research facilities


Book shop/ library


Next steps: a feasibility study and business plan are required asap. AT is to explore sources of funding eg from D&G’s regeneration department. Interested groups in the town will be contacted in connection with a ‘mapping’ exercise to make a convincing application for ‘Creative Place’ status in Oct 2013, in the course of which they will be asked for their input into uses for the Old Academy.

ER 17/12/12

Terry Newman

ER and Richard Demarco, Demarco European Art Foundation

ER, Richard Demarco and Professor Alan Tait


Moffat Old Academy facade

Richard Demarco and Andrew Wheatcroft, chairman Moffat Book Events

Richard Demarco and Andrew Wheatcroft, chairman Moffat Book Events

Richard Demarco

Classroom. Moffat Old Academy

In the carpark, Moffat Old Academy

Richard Demarco (left) meets Alan Thomson, MDCI 'Creative Place' application

Russell Morrison, Forestry Purposes LLP, in classroom

Russell Morrison in classroom

Moffat Old Academy - stairway and Snow White mural

Terry Newman (left) and Professor Alan Tait


A Miro above the counter in the cafeteria



Moffat Old Academy facade, looking west

Accumulated mail in doorway, Moffat Old Academy

Sports hall, Moffat Old Academy

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