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Grant Lodge News!

May 2023

An Update from the project manager for the Cultural Quarter Project, part of the Moray Growth Deal

Hello! My name is Claire English and I’m the project manager for the Cultural Quarter Project, part of the Moray Growth Deal. I’m very happy to provide an update for The Friends of Grant Lodge and to have the opportunity to tell Friends and visitors to the site about the work underway to bring Grant Lodge back into use and safeguard the building for future generations.

The Cultural Quarter

To recap for readers who aren’t familiar with the project, The Cultural Quarter is made up of three main elements:

  1. The refurbishment and extension of Elgin Town Hall to create an accessible, regional hub for the performing arts, creative industries and the community.
  2. The refurbishment of Grant Lodge to create a high quality heritage venue which is accessible and open to the public, a celebration of Moray’s rich heritage and a first point of call for local people and visitors to the region.
  3. Private sector provision of a quality city centre hotel.

Linked together by improved connections and public spaces these newly developed venues will shine a light on the region’s unique cultural offering, increasing City Centre activities day and night and enabling the project to meet its aims in terms of talent retention and attraction, and increasing tourism.

The Moray Growth Deal is a 10 year strategic partnership programme, designed to boost economic growth across Moray. The Growth Deal is funded by the Scottish Government, UK Government, Moray Council and a number of strategic partners. The delivery of the Cultural Quarter will be phased in the order the project elements are listed above.

Work on the Moray Growth Deal started in 2017/18. The Deal was signed in 2021, and I joined Moray Council in the autumn of 2022. Given the significant world events which have taken place since plans for the Growth Deal started, my first six months were spent getting to know key people and organisations across Moray to ensure our vision for the project reflects the current day needs of the cultural sector, business and the community. I also worked closely with colleagues at Elgin Town Hall, The Friends of Grant Lodge/Grant Lodge Trust, Moray Council’s Property and Maintenance Team to map out a route for sensitive, successful and sustainable redevelopment of these important heritage buildings.

"The Cultural Quarter is Moray’s Cultural Quarter; it can become a Gateway to Moray by signposting to other cultural activities in the region as well as coordinating and promoting all there is to do in Elgin"

Developing a project based on collaboration and connections

Sep/Oct '22Cultural Quarter Project Board reconvened including The Grant Lodge Trust, Elgin Town Hall, Visit Moray Speyside, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, UHI Moray, Diageo and Moray Business Forum, plus Creative Scotland, Visit Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland and Gordon & MacPhail.
Feb '23A series of one-to-one meetings culminated in three Cultural Quarter Development Workshops at Elgin Town Hall, Elgin Museum and Diageo. Over 100 individuals from 55+ organisations took part in discussions to help us shape the vision for the project. If you would like a copy of the final report from all three workshops please email me.
Mar '23A detailed review of the Growth Deal Aims and Cultural Quarter Outcomes, ensuring we are on track to deliver the project ambitions and maximise this opportunity based on local needs and ambitions.
Apr '23Commissioned Architect/Landscape Architect Team to deliver a 'Phasing Plan' for the Cultural Quarter and Phase 1 City Centre Development projects, ensuring all new spaces are connected, complementary and can coherently implement the Elgin City Centre Masterplan.
May '23'Culture and Heritage in Moray' Mapping Exercise, carried out by local creative and heritage sector experts, Stacey Toner and Helen Avenell. This current day baseline information will feed into an updated project plan alongside the outcomes from workshops and updates to previous reports.

Developing the capital projects

We’ve made significant progress on the Design Brief for Elgin Town Hall (ETH), having held numerous internal meetings with Elgin Town Hall for the Community and their customers, in addition to the ETH Development Workshop. We’ve also been speaking to theatre makers, producers and creative industry professionals across Moray and beyond to help us develop the specifications, including the full technical team from National Theatre of Scotland coming to help. This makes sure the updated building delivers for users, customers, and the region. We’re aiming to appoint a Design Team for Elgin Town Hall this summer, with work starting on site in 2025.

At Grant Lodge the current focus is on safeguarding the building, identifying urgent surveys or remedial works, and ensuring there is a smooth transition between Moray Council Maintenance (who currently care for the building) and the Growth Deal Development Project. Through partnership working and the Phasing Plan we will plan the project to maximise Grant Lodge's unique position at the gateway to Cooper Park. We aim to appoint a Design Team in autumn 2023 in a staged process, safeguarding the building and planning a sensitive, accessible and flexible heritage refurb whilst the operational model is confirmed. It is anticipated that the main redevelopment works for Grant Lodge will begin early 2026.

The Cultural Quarter must be sustainable and offer long term opportunities to Moray. This will remain at the core of everything we do to bring Grant Lodge back into use and enhance facilities at Elgin Town Hall. We believe that Moray is a gem to be discovered and the Cultural Quarter will provide a focal point for this journey.

I look forward to updating you and working with you as the project progresses.


May 2023

Shape the future of Elgin

The Moray Council Planning and Development team are running an event in Elgin Town Hall this coming Saturday 27 May from 10am – 3pm.

Please let any friends or contacts know who may be interested in joining the discussion.

LDP Flier
Oct 2021

The Last Clan Raid in Scotland

Sarah has found a YouTube video about Grant Lodge and the Clan Raid.

It has been made by Bruce Fummey, who runs Scotland History Tours and has a series of very interesting videos.

The video can be found here.

Bruce's website can be found here.

Bruce Fummey
Bruce Fummey
Mar 2021

Elgin City Centre Masterplan - Feedback Needed

Moray Council are inviting representatives of groups, who have an interest in the future of Grant Lodge, to provide feedback on the proposals contained within the Elgin City Centre Masterplan.

For this, they are keen to engage with as many members of the community as possible and to hear their views:

"The draft Masterplan seeks views on a long term programme of aspirational projects to ensure Elgin City Centre is a prosperous, attractive and healthy place."

Due to the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak, the consultation on the draft Masterplan is being carried out virtually, with various options to engage with it including:

  • A PDF version of the full plan.
  • A virtual exhibition.
  • Story mapping: using maps to provide a spatial view of the projects and Masterplan.

There is also an opportunity to book a one-to-one session with the planning team from 4 to 8pm on Tuesday 20th of April, or during the same period on Thursday the 29th of April. These sessions will be available to book shortly and it will be possible to ask questions and make suggestions.

News about the Elgin City Centre Masterplan can be found here.

Final responses should be submitted by 5pm on the 14th of June 2021, preferably using the online response form. The form and all the exhibition materials are available to view here.

Jan 2021

Growth Deal - Moray Council Places Advert for Programme Manager

In another positive step, Moray Council is advertising for a "Moray Growth Deal Programme Manager".

This is the job description (please ignore the split-infinitive) 😇:

"To programme manage the Moray Growth Deal and work as part of a team to co-ordinate delivery of the Moray Growth Deal projects. The post holder will co-ordinate the overall project management of the programme, leading on the development of internal processes to progress business cases, development and maintenance of project management systems, programme management benefits, evaluation and monitoring requirements and financial claims. The post holder will also be responsible for raising awareness of the Moray Growth Deal projects and their benefits throughout the community of Moray and beyond and engaging with a wider range of partners and stakeholders."

To apply, click here.

Dec 2020

Growth Deal - Moray Council Commits Funding

More Good News!

In the last few weeks of the year, Moray Council has committed funding and published notices to begin the search for contractors to draw up designs for the cultural quarter area.

Information on what is planned can be found here.

Oct 2020

Moray Growth Deal – Friends & Trust invited to Working Group

Good News!

Both the Friends of Grant Lodge and the Grant Lodge Trust have been invited to nominate representatives to sit on the Working Group for the Moray Growth Deal's "Cultural Quarter".

We see this as a major step forward and it presents an opportunity for us to be a part of the process that, hopefully, will see Grant Lodge restored and brought back into use.

This news comes at a good time because the current state of the building is becoming much worse, with the roof now at high risk with several visibly loose slates.

The intention is to have all proposals in place before the Scottish Elections in May 2021.

Oct 2020

Moray Growth Deal – What is it and what does it mean for my business? – Tourism, Culture & Transport

Moray Chamber of Commerce are running a series of online events using Zoom about the Moray Growth Deal.

"Cultural Quarter

Refurbishment of Grant Lodge to create a high quality heritage attraction; designed to increase the number of visitors to Moray and encourage people to stay longer in the area.

Refurbishment, extension, and rebranding of the Town Hall to house a multi-purpose theatre/ performance space, small cinema, rehearsal rooms; to create an improved cultural offering and support local creative industries.

Provision of a high quality hotel; to address a much-needed and long acknowledged market gap in the region’s tourism infrastructure, and open up Moray’s tourism industry to new markets.

Aims to; Increase tourism in Moray by providing a focal point to draw in additional visitors and signpost them to attractions right across the area, and provide an enhanced cultural and evening economy offering which will help to attract and retain young people in the area."

Details can be seen here & bookings can be made for this free, one-hour event on Thursday 5 November, 2020 at 10am.

Reading the last paragraph there, wasn't that what the old tourist information office on the High Street used to do before it was moved to the Library in Cooper Park (right away from the tourist route) and finally de-manned to save money?

Aug 2020

"Heads of Terms" for Moray’s Growth Deal signed

Moray Council issued a statement on their website confirming that the long-awaited "Growth Deal" is to go ahead and the document has been signed by both the UK and Scotish Governments.

The Friends of Grant Lodge support the restoration of the Lodge and, with this deal, there is at last some light at the end of the tunnel again.

We will be montoring the progress under the Growth Deal.

The full Moray Council statement can be seen here.

Jan 2020

What happened to the CAT? Is it dead or alive?

The CAT Application, for transfer of the Lodge to the Grant Lodge Trust, was placed in limbo by Moray Council in May 2019, in favour of pursuing the Growth Deal "Cultural" Quarter project.

As of today, the Growth Deal has not been approved and is yet to be signed by both the United Kingdom and Scottish Governments.

The latest excuse for this delay was the General Election held in December 2019.

The Growth Deal is now due to be signed in March of this year and, only after that, will we know which parts of it will go ahead and which will be kicked into the long grass.

So we find ourselves in a state, just like that more well known Cat of Schrodinger, where we don't know if it's dead or alive!

Add to this the fact that Moray Speyside Tourism, one of the main proponents of using Grant Lodge as a Whisky Centre, has come to the end of its funding and has been disbanded in favour of the Moray Tourism BID.

Joined-up local government, anybody?

Jan 2020

An Old Postcard

Serendipity strikes again!

This old postcard was found in the Scottish Antiques Centre, in-between Perth and Dundee. It was sent in October, 1905, which was barely two years after the Lodge was opened as the Library.

Note the old bandstand on the left-hand side in the Park behind the Lodge. What ever happened to that? In its place we have the ridiculous "amphitheatre" which was created by dumping the spoils from the £86m floodworks. That saved a few bob..

Front of Postcard
Grant Lodge as it appeared in 1905
Rear of Postcard
Sent on 2nd October, 1905. The stamp is an Edward VII half penny, issued in 1904
May 2019

Cultural Quarter and CAT Update

Feedback from Moray Council on the CAT Application was received in May. In summary this is where we stand:

"There are two proposals being prepared in parallel for Grant Lodge – Plan A and Plan B.

"A" is the Growth Deal Cultural Quarter project – the Grant Lodge element of this would provide a tripartite (ooh, big word!) offering, combining a visitor orientation facility (what on earth is that? Ed.) for Moray, focussed on food and drink (hic!), including a Speyside Whisky Experience.

"B" is the Grant Lodge Trust project – a base for prominent local charities, together with social enterprise, heritage and cultural activities.

Grant Lodge Trust is involved in and supports Plan A but is preparing and leading an alternative Plan B, which would become the primary focus in the event of Growth Deal funding not being available for Grant Lodge under Plan A."

In plain English, this means that the CAT Application is on hold and will not be considered until the funding for the Growth Deal and, within it, the Cultural Quarter is either approved or rejected.

April 2019

CAT Application

The CAT Application was finished at the end of March and was submitted to Moray Council for review shortly after.

This is not the official submission at this stage and it is hoped that the Council will revert with their comments and suggestions within the next month or so.

March 2019

Film Show was a huge success!

Elgin Town Hall was full to capacity on Friday, 29th as an enthusiastic crowd watched two forty-minute films of Elgin from times gone by.

The unique 16mm films of Elgin in the 1960s and 70s, were shown by Arthur McKerron. His Grandfather was an avid filmaker who recorded many events over the years, including the building of Elgin Town Hall and Elgin Academy, the last train from Lossiemouth to Elgin and the granting of the Freedom of Lossiemouth to the Royal Naval Airstaton, HMS Fulmar.

The event was organised by the Friends of Grant Lodge and benefitted local charities: the Grant Lodge Trust, Friends of the Oaks, Moray Fresh Start and Moray Riding for the Disabled.

March 2019

"Elgin in Times Gone by" - Tickets now sold out!

Tickets are now sold out for the film show.

February 2019

"Elgin in Times Gone by" - Tickets now on sale!

Tickets are now on sale for this "not-to-be-missed" film show.

Arthur McKerron will be showing his grandfather's unique 16mm films of Elgin in the 1960s and 70s.

Friday 29th of March at 7.30pm in the Town Hall, Elgin.

Tickets £5, are available from Sound and Vision and Elgin Town Hall (online only).

Members and children free. (Members should bring their membership cards to gain entry.)

The proceeds will be shared between the Grant Lodge Trust, Friends of the Oaks, Moray Fresh Start and Moray Riding for the Disabled.

February 2019

Trying to Return Some Books

Support for restoration of the Lodge extends to all age groups.

During the community engagement event held in the St Giles' Centre just before the New Year, one of the members of the public told us about a project undertaken by their son as part of a DYW Moray Course for young photographers.

DYW is "Developing the Young Workforce": a government funded project made up of 21 regional groups across Scotland and is described as:

"An employer-led board which aims to lower youth unemployment. By creating stronger links between businesses and education we seek to provide more opportunities for young people to be better prepared for the world of work".

Find out more here: Developing the Young Workforce

The young photographer involved is Ethan Walton.

Ethan says that, although he is only 16 years old and still some way from becoming a professional photographer, his idea was to try and capture the importance of this building [Grant Lodge] to people.

He did this by asking a family friend to pose in front of Grant Lodge with some books. The point was to show her trying to return her books to what was once the library but she could not so this as the building is closed and no longer in use.

This rather poignant series of photographs follows...

All photographs reproduced by kind permission of Ethan Walton.

Arriving at the Lodge with some Old Books
Walking up the Ramp to the Front Door
Finding the Front Door Locked
Turning Away Disappointed
January 2019

Public Meeting in Elgin Town Hall

Supper Room
Members of the Public in Elgin Town Hall

On the 16th of January, the Grant Lodge Trust, GLT, hosted a Public Meeting in the Supper Room of Elgin Town Hall. This was for the community engagement required as part of the Community Asset Transfer, CAT, application.

The meeting started with a presentation on the structural condition of the Lodge and then a film was shown of the interior, taken in October of last year.

Almost one hundred members of the community turned up for the meeting and it was clear that those in attendance were keen to have the Lodge Restored and many signed up to show their support for the Trust’s plans.

Watch the film of the interior of the Lodge:

January 2019

Friends of Grant Lodge presents "Elgin in Times Gone By"

Arthur Mckerron will be showing his grandfather's unique 16mm films of Elgin in the 1960s and 70s.

Friday 29th of March at 7.30pm in the Town Hall.

Tickets £5, will be available from Sound and Vision and Elgin Town Hall from mid-February onwards.

Members and children free.

The proceeds will go to Grant Lodge Trust and local charities.

January 2019

Old Silent Films of Elgin

On the 9th of January, the Grant Lodge Trust, GLT, hosted a compilation of old silent films from Elgin and around. This was for the community engagement mentioned below, which is part of the Community Asset Transfer, CAT, process.

The presentation started with a film of the opening of Cooper Park and Grant Lodge on the 19th of August, 1903 and the whole show lasted for about forty minutes.

Almost one hundred members of the community turned up for the show.

Watch the films from the website of the National Library of Scotland:

January 2019

Community Events this Month

As previously mentioned, there are two events lined up for this month, which have been organised by the Grant Lodge Trust, GLT.

All members of the public are cordially invited. Entrance is free and tea and coffee will be provided.

Moray Playhouse

  • Wednesday 9th of January, 2019 - 10:30 - 11:30 (am)

Come and watch some old black and white film footage!

This is an opportunity to be reminded of how Elgin looked when Grant Lodge was opened. After all, the opening day of the Park and the Lodge was declared as a public holiday and it was named as "the leading event in Elgin during the year now almost gone..." in the Christmas Number of the Northern Scot in 1903. There will be a film of the parade held on that day as well.

GLT will also present ideas for the possible future for the Lodge.

Elgin Town Hall

  • Wednesday 16th of January, 2019 - 17:30 - 19:30

Find out about the current condition of the Lodge and hear the vision for the future.

There will be an opportunity to pose questions to members of the Grant Lodge Trust and other guests who have a relevance to the future of the Lodge.

December 2018

Grant Lodge Trust - Community Engagement

The Grant Lodge Trust, GLT, had a stand in the St Giles' Centre in Elgin, just after Christmas, where they were engaging with members of the public.

Almost without exception, people were very supportive of the need to refurbish the Lodge.

Support can be expressed on this website under the GLT tab.

At the St Giles' Centre
GLT stand in St Giles' Centre, Elgin
December 2018

Moray Growth Deal and the "Cultural Quarter"

There appears to have been some convergence between the preferred options for Grant Lodge under the Moray Growth Deal and "Cultural Quarter" and the ideas being championed by the Friends of Grant Lodge, FoGL.

Originally, in the leaked plans for the "Cultural Quarter", Grant Lodge was to become a "Whisky visitor attraction", however, in the latest proposals this has been amended to:

  • food & drink experience
  • visitor orientation
  • restaurant
  • exhibition space
  • flexible working space
  • social enterprise
  • civic engagement
  • two-storey extension
  • large flexible spaces

This is much more inline with the intentions of Sir George Cooper's Deed of Gift and we are hopeful that all interested groups: Friends, Trust and Moray Council can, from now on, walk the same line.

December 2018

Community Events for the Diary

As part of their community engagement, Grant Lodge Trust, GLT, have organised two events where the public are invited to attend to learn about their plans:

Moray Playhouse

  • Wednesday 9th of January, 2019 - 10:30 - 11:30 (am)

Come and watch some old black and white film footage!

This is an opportunity to be reminded of how Elgin looked when Grant Lodge was opened. After all, the opening day of the Park and the Lodge was declared as a public holiday and it was named as "the leading event in Elgin during the year now almost gone..." in the Christmas Number of the Northern Scot in 1903. There will be a film of the parade held on that day as well.

GLT will also present ideas for the possible future for the Lodge.

Elgin Town Hall

  • Wednesday 16th of January, 2019 - 17:30 - 19:30

Find out about the current condition of the Lodge and hear the vision for the future.

There will be an opportunity to pose questions to members of the Grant Lodge Trust and other guests who have a relevance to the future of the Lodge.

December 2018

Community Engagement for CAT Application

Grant Lodge Trust, GLT, are running a campaign of community engagement.

This is in order to gauge community interest for the restoration of the Lodge and is to comply with requirements under the CAT application.

As part of this engagement, some events will be organised and we hope to publish them here!

November 2018

Elgin and District Men's Shed Group

We have been approached by the Elgin and District Men's Shed group who are looking for a permanent home.

The basement of Grant Lodge would be ideal for this group who have all the skills required within their membership to be able to carry out a refurbishment.

They floated the idea of using Grant Lodge with Moray Council but were rebuffed due to "health and safety concerns".

From the Elgin and District Men's Shed website:

"What is a Men’s Shed?

Men’s Sheds are similar to garden sheds. They are places to pursue practical interests, practice skills and enjoy making things and mending. The difference is that garden sheds and their activities are often solitary in nature while Men’s Sheds are the opposite. They’re about social connections and friendship building, sharing skills and knowledge, and of course a lot of laughter.

Many don’t have premises at all in the beginning and instead form a group that meets regularly for the social connection, company and camaraderie until they can find somewhere to kit out with tools. Sheds get involved in community projects and building things for schools, libraries and individuals in need.

The essence of a Shed is not a building, but the connections and relationships between its members."

October 2018

Grant Lodge Damage

These two photographs, of the right-hand rounded pillar at the front of Grant Lodge, were taken approximately two and a half years apart.

The progressive erosion of the sandstone at the base of the pillar can be clearly seen. Moray Council, under their duty of care, were asked to attend to this in 2016 but no action was taken.

Pillar 2016 Pillar 2018
Front Pillar in 2016 Front Pillar in 2018
October 2018

GLT Project Development Officer, PDO, is in position

As announced in September, the Project Development Officer, PDO, has started work.

Kasha Jarosz is working on preparing a business case for the possible long-term lease of Grant Lodge to the Grant Lodge Trust. This will be used to support a Community Asset Transfer, CAT, request to Moray Council.

Kasha has worked with Voluntary Action Orkney, Shapinsay Development Trust and recently with tsiMORAY, amongst others. Kasha’s passion is to see this great, much loved building become beautiful again and to, once again, serve the people and community of Elgin.

October 2018

Elgin Scenes - 2002

This calendar from 2002 was spotted in Elgin Museum.

The caption reads "Elgin Scenes painted by pupils from Elgin High School".

See how beautiful the Lodge looked, just one year before the fire!

Elgin Scenes
Elgin Scenes Calendar - 2002
September 2018

Doors Open Day, 2018 - FoGL at Elgin Museum

The Friends of Grant Lodge, FoGL, had a stand in the main gallery of Elgin Museum on Days-open Day.

This generated a great deal of interest from visitors both local and from further afield, with the Museum being exceptionally busy during most of the day.

At the Museum
FoGL stand in Elgin Museum
September 2018

Doors Open Day, 22nd September 2018

Following the issuance of an interdict by The Moray Council prohibiting the opening of Grant Lodge on Doors Open Day, the Friends of Grant Lodge, FoGL, have decided to take part anyway!

Elgin Museum has kindly offered space within the main gallery for the placement of a stall similar to that which was displayed, with great success, at the recent Elgin Food & Drink Festival.

We invite any and all interested members of the public to pop in any time during the open day, to find out the latest information on the campaign or to simply show their support.

For those who have not visited Elgin's superb Museum in a while (it's the oldest independent museum in Scotland, having been opened first in 1843!) this is an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.

Doors Open Day at Elgin Museum takes place on the 22nd of September between 11:00 and 16:00.

September 2018

Grant Lodge Trust appoints a Project Development Officer, PDO

News is just in that, following successful interviews a week ago, the Grant Lodge Trust, GLT, has appointed a Project Development Officer, PDO, to work on the business plan for the Community Asset Transfer, CAT, application to The Moray Council.

The PDO will be directed and guided by the GLT and will work in conjunction with them, however, they will be employed and line-managed by tsiMORAY for purely administrative reasons.

The successful candidate will take up the post of PDO on the 17th of September, 2018.

September 2018

Doors Open Day, 2018 - Update

We mentioned, in earlier news, that we had been denied access to the Lodge by the Moray Council for the second year running.

This was purportedly because of "significant concerns over the condition of the building, it being considered unsafe and posing a risk to persons entering the building."

Supporters of FoGL might be interested to see the evidence for this, especially as the Friends have been denied access to carry out their own inspection.

Fallen Plaster?
"Fallen Plaster" inside the entrance of Grant Lodge

Note the rectangular shape.

This is unsafe and poses a risk to persons of all genders entering the building!

September 2018

Northern Scot Christmas Number from 1903

The Northern Scot "Christmas Number" of 25th of December, 1903 carried an article about the the opening of the Cooper Park and Grant Lodge earlier that same year.

"Undoubtedly the leading event in Elgin during the year now almost gone has been the opening of the Cooper Park and Grant Lodge."

We have found the original Christmas Number in the archives held at Elgin Library and have been given permission to reuse this by The Moray Council.

Read the full arcticle here.

August 2018

Annual General Meeting

The FoGL AGM will take place on Tuesday the 25th of September in the Elgin Museum Hall at 7pm.

All FoGL members and any interested members of the public are welcome to attend.

There will be a short talk by the Leader of Moray Council: Graham Leadbitter, after which a question and answer session will be held.

August 2018

Silent Film

We have discovered a silent film of the opening of Cooper Park and Grant Lodge on the 19th of August, 1903 on the website of the National Library of Scotland.

Watch the film here.

August 2018

Elgin Food & Drink Festival

The Friends of Grant Lodge, FoGL, were present at the Elgin Food & Drink Festival on Saturday, 18th of August.

Food and Drink

This year the event was held in the Town Hall due to the forecast of high winds, which could have caused difficulties for stalls on the open streets.

There was a huge interest in the FoGL stall from members of the public. We were handing out leaflets and asking people to join our news mailing list.

Without exception, everyone was positive about what FoGL is trying to achieve. When the reasons for the Lodge still lying empty and boarded up after fifteen years were explained, the overwhelming response was one of shock and disappointment at the incompetence of those trusted with the responsibility of looking after this wonderful building.

August 2018

Job Vacancy for Project Development Officer

Following the successful LEADER grant application, Grant Lodge Trust, GLT is now looking for a Project Development Officer.

"The Grant Lodge Trust, in partnership with tsiMORAY, is looking for a Project Development Officer to support the Trust in completing the business case for the Community Asset Transfer of Grant Lodge, Elgin, from the Moray Council to the Grant Lodge Trust.

This is a part-time position at 25 hours a week, for a period of eight months. The closing date for applications is Monday 20th August 12 noon. Interviews will be held on the 4th and 5th of September 2018."

Details on how to apply can be found on the tsiMoray website.

July 2018

LEADER Funding Approved for GLT!

The Grant Lodge Trust, GLT, is now pleased that some progress can finally be reported. An application to LEADER for funding has been successful!

LEADER announced on the 27th of July that:

"tsiMORAY have been awarded £13,091.85 to work in partnership with the Grant Lodge Trust to employ a Project Development Officer to help them complete the business case for the Community Asset Transfer of the Lodge from Moray Council. This is an essential first step towards the restoration of the Lodge Elgin as a Social Enterprise Hub & Civic Engagement Centre. The award represents 70% of the total project costs."

To explain, LEADER is a European Union scheme (Liaison Entre Actions de Development Economique Rurale) described as "a bottom-up method of delivering support to communities for rural development".

Grants are awarded by Local Action Groups to projects that support delivery of a Local Development Strategy.

The funding that GLT has secured is to employ a project manager for eight months in order to generate a business case to be submitted to Moray Council as part of a Community Asset Transfer (CAT) request.

Or, in other acronyms, LEADER is funding GLT’s CAT application to TMC…

If successful, the CAT application would allow GLT to take a long lease on Grant Lodge. Once that lease was granted then the Trust would be in a position to start raising funds for full restoration.

One potential fly in the ointment for any proposed redevelopment of Grant Lodge is that in the Deed of Gift, Sir George Cooper presented Cooper Park and Grant Lodge as a "free gift to the Community of Elgin" and that the Lodge and grounds should be for the "use and benefit of the inhabitants of Elgin".

These terms are quite specific and would presumably rule out any commercial use unless they can be altered, which may be essential for a sustainable future.

The original use, under the Deed, was to be as a Public Park, Library and Reading Rooms and a Museum of Arts. (The latter never came to fruition.)

The sticking point in former proposals for regeneration has always been the fact that the Deed of Gift would have to be varied by approaching the Court of Session in Edinburgh. There is obviously a cost for this, which has previously been estimated at around £30-40k.

That is a bridge yet to be crossed!

(An interesting fact is that the cost of an appeal to the Court of session would, most likely, be far less than Moray Council has spent on bottled water for its staff in the last five years. Look at this Freedom of Information Request. Yes: £63,975!)

July 2018

Doors-open Day, 2018

Prior to the Doors-open Day, the Friends had arranged to have an inspection visit on the 17th of July, to view the inside of the Lodge. Despite being "hopeful" last month, our hopes were dashed when Moray Council refused permission to enter the building at the last minute!

According to Moray Council the decision was taken "due to significant concerns over the condition of the building, it being considered unsafe and posing a risk to persons entering the building."

Of course, Health & Safety must take precedence!

We might ask why, as the party responsible for the maintenance of the building under the Deed of Gift, Moray Council has allowed the condition of the building to deteriorate to such an extent that one or two members of the Friends cannot enter, accompanied, to make an inspection?

We did ask Moray Council to give the reasons for denying entry but the best they could come up with was that there was some loose plaster near to the entrance.

Failing the production of any evidence for this, we can only assume that an executive decision has been made to exclude the Friends from any future plans for the lodge and to lend support to a proposed Whisky Centre, which is backed by both the Council and Moray Speyside Tourism.

It is with sadness that we must announce that Grant Lodge will now not be open on Doors-open Day!

Déjà vu anyone?

June 2018

Doors-open Day, 22nd September 2018

The Grant Lodge Trust wishes Grant Lodge to be open to the Public for "Doors-open" Day on 22nd September 2018.

This was originally planned for last year but the discovery of dry rot lead to those plans being abandoned.

This plan is contingent on receiving permission from The Moray Council and we are hopeful!

All members of the public will be welcome to attend between 10am and 4pm. You will be surprised at just how good the condition of the interior is!

Below is some information from the "Doors-open" Day website.

Doors Open Days first took place in Glasgow and Ayr in 1990 where it formed part of the European City of Culture celebrations.

The success of the event encouraged other areas to participate the following year and has now grown to cover almost every area of Scotland.More than 800 buildings are expected to open, generating over 200,000 visits to sites and hidden architectural gems of all kinds in locations throughout Scotland.

The event brings together people from all walks of life in celebration of the fascinating architecture that surrounds us and the stories that these buildings can tell. Last year over 5,000 volunteers gave their time to run tours, steward sites and activities.

April 2018

Business and tourism leaders back Cultural Quarter plans within Growth Deal bid

The idea is that Grant Lodge "could become a showcase for Moray's food, drink and textiles with a focus on a "whisky experience" to offer tastings and signpost distilleries." [sic]

Quite how this would square with the conditions contained in the Deed of Gift is not explained.

The latest information from Moray Council about their proposal for Grant Lodge and Cooper Park can be seen here.

"At the forefront of the multi-million pound projects included in the funding bid is Elgin’s Cultural Quarter, set in a reimagined space at Lossie Green and Cooper Park. It is hoped that the project would create a dynamic and vibrant area for both tourists and Moray residents, raising the profile of Moray as a place to live, work and visit."

The Cultural Quarter would:

  • Showcase the strength of Moray’s offering in food, drink and textiles, with a focus on a ‘Whisky Experience’. It will host video and interactive exhibits, and tastings, as well as signposting visitors to tours and visitor centres across Moray and the North of Scotland.
  • [Create] a refurbished Town Hall housing Moray College Creative Industries Hub, a multi-purpose theatre and performance space with rehearsal rooms and a gallery space.
  • [Provide] a 4 or 5-star hotel (to be privately funded).
March 2018

GLT (Grant Lodge Trust) are working on an application for LEADER funding

If successful, this will be used to fund a project manager who will create a business plan for the CAT (Community asset transfer) Application to Moray Council.

A CAT is required so that GLT can take a long lease on Grant Lodge. This will enable them to secure funding to allow full restoration and the return to use for the community of Elgin.

We welcome all new members. If you would like to join us, or have any queries about our campaign, please contact us and we will be in touch.