OUR PLANS FOR A NEW HERITAGE HUB IN ROSEMARKIE
Rosemarkie residents and museum volunteers Stephen and Evelyn with museum administrator Carola outside Mill Cottage.
Mill Cottage on Bridge Street, which The Highland Council currently owns and plans to sell, has been vacant for several years. We propose purchasing the building under the Community Asset Transfer Scheme, for which we need community support.
The property as it stands will be available for a wide range of activities, while a new extension to the rear will house the museum’s collections (currently housed at Avoch and Balintore). The museum will programme lectures, training sessions, creative workshops, sales and exhibitions at the property.
The building will also provide museum staff and volunteers with a much-needed workspace and secure archival facility for the local history and nationally recognised George Bain collections.
Bringing the museum’s collections into the village will allow more people to become involved in their care and conservation – with opportunities to learn new skills and become more intimately involved with local history and heritage.
This move has been triggered by the risk that our current leased storage space at Avoch will come to an end in a few years. The attraction of Mill Cottage is that it enables us to bring the whole of the museum’s collections to one place, close to the community to which they belong. It will be much more than a storage facility. We are keen to investigate further and consider how the building could benefit our local community and the museum.
The team at Groam House envisage the building being available as a valuable asset to the local community. Rooms could be used by small groups or function as a place to meet for coffee and a blether. If funding allows, there could be an outdoor garden area with seating and plants, a quiet haven on a busy summer’s day.
If successful in this bid, this new facility would be located just a minute’s walk from our museum on Rosemarkie High Street.
The cottage currently consists of two rooms with a toilet and kitchen area. Once expanded, it could offer roughly twice as much space. Preliminary plans include an eco-friendly green roof extension at the rear of the property. The cottage frontage would remain the same in keeping with the surrounding architecture.
We hope you will show support your these plans.
Thanks to everyone who have commented on this idea so far. We’re glad that our proposal has ignited discussion and community interest in possible futures of Mill Cottage. Many questions have arisen, some we can address, and we are happy to share more detail of the process and our plans.
- The council intend to sell the property on the open market and were preparing to do so when GHM enquired about the possibility of Community Asset Transfer.
- GHM’s request for Community Asset Transfer has paused marketing of the property on the open market – allowing space and time for community conversation and the development of ideas for the future of the building.
- GHM would be required to offer a reasonable amount to purchase the property (this would normally be the full market value less any proven tangible benefits to the community). We have not been offered the property for £1 or any similar nominal amount.
- This project could create at least two new part-time jobs.
- We are sympathetic to the social and affordable housing situation in the Black Isle. If there were a guarantee of Mill Cottage returning to social housing or being available as affordable housing, we would support this. We can’t predict the future, but a private buyer purchasing the cottage as a holiday let is highly possible.
- We believe that a programme of activities and the informal, welcoming atmosphere of what we propose will provide members of our community with additional opportunities for social interaction. We all recognise how important this can be in alleviating loneliness and helping maintain good mental health.
- Scotland currently has 50 collections that have been Recognised as Nationally Significant Collections by the Scottish Government. GHM cares for one of these collections. It is vitally important to the future funding of the museum as whole that this collection is housed and cared for to museum standards. We plan to build an extension at the rear of Mill Cottage that will meet these strict standards.
- We feel it is important that our local history collections stay within the village to inspire local people to keep connected to their heritage.
- We see no conflict with or duplication of the wonderful community facilities already established in the village. Our offer will differ from both the village hall and the cafe, and we will continue to work with other local facilities; for example, run our craft fairs and coffee mornings at the Gordon Memorial Hall when it reopens. We will not operate a cafe.
- The population of Rosemarkie is about to increase substantially as 50 new homes are near completion at Greenside. We are confident that adding to community facilities will benefit the whole village in building a stronger and more vibrant community in which to live.
Of course, we are open to alternative suggestions for accommodation and appreciate the help of anyone who can offer advice. Our requirements are a space suitable (or can be upgraded) for storing a collection of National Significance, providing ample workspace for our staff and team of volunteers, and space to develop a programme of events and activities.
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In the summer of 1981, Groam House Museum opened its doors for visitors to admire the splendid, eighth-century Rosemarkie Pictish cross-slab in its new home. Since the end of the 19th century, the cross-slab had stood in the churchyard outside Rosemarkie Church but thanks to the generosity of local businessman Mario Pagliari, who in 1974 gifted Groam House to Fortrose Town Council, this magnificent stone was given a permanent shelter from the elements. More sculpted stones were brought from the churchyard and over the years, the museum display space was enlarged to include a mezzanine floor.
To date, this award-winning museum has developed three areas of collecting: Pictish stones; prehistoric, historic and local history items from the local area; and the George Bain Collection now recognised as a Nationally Significant Collection by MGS (Museum Galleries Scotland).
This incredible achievement has been possible due to the dedication and hard work of past and present staff, board members, volunteers and the many supporters of Groam House, including the local community.
Now, forty years on, the Groam House Museum team are keen to roll up their sleeves and get stuck into a new exciting challenge and once again we need the support of our local community.
The Board of Trustees has submitted their initial expression of interest. They now need the support of individuals and groups within the local communities of Rosemarkie and Fortrose and the wider Black Isle area.
If you have questions or would like to comment on this proposal please email Doug Maclean firstname.lastname@example.org
An early view of Bridge Street, Rosemarkie