July 09, 2007

Duddingston's Thomson Tower receives Lottery Funding for curling museum

The Thomson Tower, on Duddingston Loch in Edinburgh, was the home of the Duddingston Curling Society whose members penned the first rules of the game. It is now derelict and has lain unused for many years.

Not for much longer though!

A Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £137,500, announced today, will help restore the tower and turn it into a museum of curling.

The octagonal building, which sits in the grounds of Duddingston Kirk, was designed by William Playfair and built by Duddingston Curling Society in 1825. Fundraising for a project to restore the tower and make use of it for the benefit of the community has been ongoing for some time. Today's announcement is just reward for the work, and vision, of those involved in the project.

The Heritage Lottery Fund grant will allow the Thomson Tower to be completely restored. Its ground floor will be the curling museum, while the upper floor will be used for exhibitions and private functions. The official press release says, "The process of its restoration will be used to involve the community in the heritage on its doorstep. There will be opportunities to train in conservation skills and techniques, open days for the public to see the work as it progresses and local children will be involved in providing interpretation for the building. Paths will also be created and improved to give better access to the Thomson Tower and to Dr Neil’s Garden, in which it is situated."

Dr Neil’s Garden was created in 1965 by Andrew and Nancy Neil, two local doctors. Just two acres in size, it is now considered one of the finest small gardens in Scotland.

Commenting on the grant award, the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Manager for Scotland, Colin McLean, said, “This is a fascinating project around a tower which is steeped in history. Almost two hundred years ago it played a role in the everyday life of the local community as well as being of national significance to Scotland in the artistic and sports fields. The Heritage Lottery Fund is delighted to help make that happen again.”

Jim Baird, Chairman of Dr Neil’s Garden Trust, added, “Dr Neil’s Garden Trust is delighted the Heritage Lottery Fund has granted this award to refurbish the Thomson Tower. As the major funding partner of the project, they are ensuring this important part of our national heritage is not lost.”

Work on the project should begin this year. More funding is required, but it is hoped that this will be obtained soon. Donations may still be sent to: Thomson Tower Appeal, 4 Old Church Lane, Duddingstone Village, Edinburgh EH15 3PX.

Are you interested in the history of curling? Or does the subject turn you cold? Have your say on the Scottish Curling Forum.

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