OUR PLANS FOR A NEW HERITAGE HUB IN ROSEMARKIE
Updated 22 December 2021
Our survey on the possible acquisition of Mill Cottage by Groam House Museum is now finished. Thanks to everyone who took the time to share your thoughts. We have listened to what has been said, and have changed our approach accordingly.
Rosemarkie residents and museum volunteers Stephen and Evelyn with museum administrator Carola outside Mill Cottage.
WHAT WE DO
Groam House Museum is a well-known and well-loved community museum. Over recent years (COVID aside) we have run highly regarded arts and heritage skills workshops, fun community activities and many volunteering opportunities for people of all ages, including in fund-raising, through events like our popular book sales.
WE NEED MORE SPACE
Groam House Museum needs more space longer term – possibly in the form of an existing larger building where it can house its whole collection and expand on its workshops.
OUR COLLECTION STORE AND OFFICES ARE MILES AWAY
At the heart of any museum is a collection and a group of people who come together to run it. At present our collections are dispersed in inadequate storage, including at Balintore, 38 miles drive north (a round trip of 76 miles!). The museum office is on the Rosehaugh Estate. Both these facilities will close in the not-too-distant future.
OUR COLLECTION IS OF NATIONAL IMPORTANCE
Our community collection covers the Picts, local history and, unusually, the George Bain Collection: this has National Collection status, meaning that we care for it on behalf of the whole nation (so in a way, although small, we are in part a National Museum). We need easier access to all this close to or within the museum building, and there is no room at Groam House as things stand.
OUR COLLECTION IS ALSO ROOTED IN OUR LOCAL COMMUNITY
Many items in our collections are family treasures entrusted to us by people in our communities, and the visitor numbers in normal years demonstrate how much these are appreciated by locals and visitors alike. It is our duty and responsibility as a museum to preserve these objects and to make them accessible to the communities to which they belong. Our volunteers, as well as researchers, need access to the collections on a regular basis, so we have been exploring the possibility of bringing the whole of the stored collections to one place, close to the museum itself and preferably into the heart of the village of Rosemarkie.
With the pressure on to vacate both the Balintore and Avoch sites, our need to secure this is now urgent.
80% OF OUR SURVEY SUPPORTED THE ACQUISITION OF MILL COTTAGE
The proposal to purchase Mill Cottage in Rosemarkie from Highland Council has attracted good support from the community, with nearly 80% of people who have returned our survey in favour.
MILL COTTAGE CANNOT BE USED AS SOCIAL HOUSING
For those not currently in favour, the main (and understandable) concern is that the disposal of the property would remove it from Highland Council’s social housing list. Highland Council has confirmed however that Mill Cottage cannot be used for social housing and is therefore to be sold in order to raise money. We already have one independent valuation of the property, and will be seeking another, with the intention of offering at (or close to) market value, to support the Council’s capital fund for housing.
MILL COTTAGE IS AT RISK OF BEING SOLD AS BUY-TO-LET OR A HOLIDAY COTTAGE
The second (and equally understandable) concern is that the property should instead be put on the open market so that local people can bid to purchase it. As many of you who responded to the survey pointed out, recent experience shows that it is unlikely that any local first-time buyers could outbid others seeking to acquire it as buy-to-let or a holiday cottage.
WE CAN RESOLVE THE ACCESS ISSUES
Mill Cottage requires a good deal of work and presents some access issues of its own. With its low ceilings it is not ideal for any immediate modern use, but it does represent a major improvement on what we currently have in terms of museum space. If we can buy Mill Cottage, we aim to provide limited parking spaces for cars/bicycles at the property. We would encourage people visiting Mill Cottage to use the Mill Road car park and the footpath along the Markie Burn as access. We also aim to improve safety for all by installing a footbridge into the Fairy Glen Car Park to enable direct access to the Fairy Glen without having to walk along Bridge Street.
Mill Cottage would be well suited to the type of craft workshops that we currently run (an important income stream for Groam House Museum). These have limited space requirements but need the work in progress and art/craft materials to be left out for several days at a time, secure and protected as they may use items from the museum’s collections. We do not intend to open the building to the general public or, no longer do we plan to offer it as general meeting space for groups, other than in exceptional circumstances; that is already provided by several organisations locally, notably at the Gordon Memorial Hall.
WE CAN KEEP A USEFUL BUILDING IN COMMUNITY HANDS
If in the longer term Groam House Museum should move to a larger site altogether, Mill House (already upgraded for museum use) could then be returned to local housing stock, possibly as a first-home letting property for local youngsters. Our proposal would keep a useful local building in community hands.
WE NEED OUR COMMUNITY’S SUPPORT
We can do this. Groam House Trustees and volunteers have worked hard to ensure Groam House Museum is now on a firm financial footing: for example, we recently prevented closure of the Rosemarkie and Fortrose public toilets through the formation of the Rosemarkie and Fortrose Trust (RAFT), which now runs the facilities on behalf of the community. Our Trustees and volunteers have the experience and vision to bring this project to life. We are confident that our proposal will benefit Rosemarkie and the Black Isle by giving Groam House Museum more space to house its collection and as a base for its friendly team of Trustees and volunteers, and by saving another small local property from becoming a holiday cottage.
We will keep you posted here and also on Facebook, so be sure to like our page and share our posts.
Our survey on the possible acquisition of Mill Cottage by Groam House Museum is now finished. Thanks to everyone who took the time to share your thoughts.
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