Grant Lodge Timeline
This is the sequence of events from the building of the Lodge right up to the present day.
It is sad to see how close to restoration the Lodge came, on several previous occasions.
Grant Lodge was commissioned by Sir James Grant for his aunt, Lady Innes and was designed by Robert Adam.
In 1850, the Lodge was altered and extended.
In 1899, it was sold to Sir George Cooper, an Elgin Lawyer.
Colonel George Alexander Cooper grants a Deed of Gift creating a Public Trust of Grant Lodge and its grounds.
The grounds were to be used as a park ('Cooper Park') and the Lodge as a "Public Library and Reading Rooms and a Museum of Arts and Industries for the use and benefit of the inhabitants of Elgin".
Area at the South end of Cooper Park conveyed (in terms of the 1903 Trust) to the Third (Morayshire) Volunteer Battalion for erection of a Drill Hall.
Grant Lodge opens as a library although the 'museum of art' seems to run into problems.
Alterations are made on the first floor of Grant Lodge to accommodate the 'museum of art', displaying a number of pictures, but very few objects.
The library takes over the whole building providing a comprehensive range of services including adult and children's lending, information services and local studies using genealogical and archive materials.
Elgin Burgh Library merges with Moray & Nairn County Library and thereafter Grant Lodge was functioning as a library only.
North Port flats are built by the Elgin Town Council on the south end of Cooper Park in direct breach of the Deed of Gift.
Grant Lodge is no longer able to adequately function as a modern public library.
At a Local Public Inquiry on the relief road for Elgin, the fact that the road would sever the southern portion of the park figures prominently in the objections. Some objectors attempt to have the acquisition "blocked" by Sir George Cooper's heirs.
The Moray District Council take over the former Town Council's recreation/parks function and Grant Lodge and Cooper Park are administered together and held on the Elgin Common Good account.
A portion of ground at the southern edge of Cooper Park is voluntarily conveyed by the Town Council (in breach of the Deed of Gift) to the Scottish Development Department as part of their land acquisitions for the construction of the Elgin Relief Road which in turn means that a further portion of the park was severed off by the road and is effectively lost to Cooper Park.
The relief road is opened.
The Moray District Council works on plans for the provision of a new library as Grant Lodge is no longer fit for purpose due to, structural weakness, layout, damp, woodworm etc.
The former Drill Hall is reconveyed to The Moray District Council by Secretary of State for Defence.
Council Officers trace George Cooper's heirs to gain their views/consent for the new library proposals etc.
The heirs of Sir George Cooper agree to a local study centre but not to the relocation of the Registrar.
The Moray District Council, MDC, agrees to set aside any sale proceeds from the flats at 65-79 (odd only), North Port for Trust purposes.
The Court of Session approve a scheme and power to sell heritage presented by The MDC and to convert the Drill Hall into a library.
Library services are transferred to the new library. At this time Grant Lodge serves as a local studies facility.
Grant Lodge operates as a local heritage centre with 14,000 books, pamphlets, local newspapers, genealogical records, maps, photographs, architect plans and some archival material.
On 26th of July, there is a fire starting in the basement of the building which spread upwards through the floors to the roof causing some minor damage and leading to the removal of most materials from the building, following which the building is boarded up. Nobody knows what happened to the money from any insurance claim as this disappears into the Council's coffers.
Highland Buildings Preservation Trust are commissioned to carry out a feasibility study on Grant Lodge.
Mia Scott, Project Director, gives a presentation to Committee on the background and results of the feasibility study. She outlines the options for saving the building (post-fire) and what it could be used for and how much it would cost to restore it.
Grant Lodge is identified, by the Moray Council, as a "key transformational site" in contributing to aims for "Arts, Culture and Heritage" and "the Visitor Economy".
The CCC Partnership Group (Castle to Cathedral to Cashmere) set out detailed proposals and drawings for the development of Grant Lodge.
An external inspection shows that the building is in fair condition but boarded up and disused.
At an Economic Development & Infrastructure Services Committee Meeting, during discussions, one Councillor moved that a report be submitted to a future meeting of the Committee on the implications of terminating the existing contract for feasibility studies on Grant Lodge and what the financial implications on the current budget would be.
They recommended that the partnership management group look at other sources of funding and sustainable uses for Grant Lodge that do not use Council services. This was unanimously agreed by the Committee!
The Lodge is subsequently dropped from the CCC project
A report is given to the Economic Development & Infrastructure Services Committee who agree to termination of the feasibility study and to take no further action.
A Short Life Working Group is formed to "take the project forward" and "consult with the public". As a result of this the Grant Lodge Trust (GLT) is formed.
The Trust has its inaugural meeting in December.
A Strategy for the redevelopment of Grant Lodge is made by Mia Scott Associates on behalf of the Grant Lodge Trust.
The proposal, to re-use Grant Lodge as a hub for social innovation and entrepreneurship has the potential to deliver considerable benefits for the community of Elgin.
An external inspection finds the property boarded up and in declining condition.
An internal inspection by the Friends of Grant Lodge (FoGL) finds the building in fair condition. It is currently being used by the Council for storage of various items including what looks like the metal roof works from the East End School. Also visible in the basement are some piles of the Elgin Courant Newspaper dating from the nineteenth century, obviously forgotten during the removal of other items.
As the fifteenth anniversary of the fire approaches a Community Asset Transfer (CAT) application is being prepared in cooperation with tsiMoray, who express an interest in relocating to the Lodge. There is also a possibility of securing funding for a project manager from LEADER. This would be used to create the business plan required for the CAT application.
One day after the fifteenth anniversary of the fire, it is anounced that LEADER funding has been granted to the Grant Lodge Trust, GLT, and a project manager will be appointed to lead the CAT application.
Almost simultaneously, Moray Council informs the Friends that they will be denied access to the Lodge for Doors-open Day for the second year running. This blatently political decision is received with dismay by the Friends who have been striving for seven years now.
In September, a Project Development Officer is appointed to work on the business plan for the Community Asset Transfer of the Lodge from Moray Council to the Grant Lodge Trust, under a long lease.
Confusion is sown when Moray Council announce plans for a "Cultural Quarter" encompassing Cooper Park and the Lodge. This is part of a wider "Growth Deal" which is to be funded by the UK and Scottish Governments. News of this is leaked to the local press and the "vision" for the Lodge is that it is to be a Whisky Centre. This is news to both the Friends of Grant Lodge and the Grant Lodge Trust, neither of whom were approached by the Council
At the end of the year, there has 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 and the Grant Lodge Trust, GLT.
Work on the CAT application continues with a series of events designed to gauge the support of the community for Grant Lodge Trust's plans for the refurbishment of the Lodge
These include the printing of 10,000 leaflets, a silent film show and a public meeting.
At the end of March, a draft CAT application was submitted for comment to Moray Council.