Glenrothes has a great story to tell ...

Lord Lt of Fife Margaret Dean signs the guest board at Glenrothes Heritage Centre
Lord Lt of Fife Margaret Dean signs the guest board at Glenrothes Heritage Centre
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Heritage Centre is an integral part of the town

It was once said to me in passing conversation that Glenrothes didn’t have a history, what with being one of Scotland’s original ‘new towns’ and only 65 years old.

Where’s the heritage in that? I was asked.

If I ever have the conversation again, rather than debate the ‘has it - has it not’ argument, I’ll just point them in the direction of Glenrothes and Area Heritage Centre.

It may have been over 20 years in the making but in just 12 eventful months a small, but dedicated band of trustees and volunteers have dispelled the myth once and for all that Glenrothes, and it’s surrounding communities including the likes of Markinch, Kinglassie, Thornton and Leslie, do indeed have a very rich and diverse history and culture that is worth preserving and promoting.

It’s 12 months this coming week since Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament and local MSP Tricia Marwick declared the town’s very own centre of regional heritage open to the public for the first time.

Since then it has been a roller-coaster of a first year for the group that would not have been possible without the great many hours put in by members behind the scenes, s Linda Ballingall, chairman of the group explained.

“Whilst reflecting on this exciting first year of providing a Heritage Centre within Glenrothes, I have to thank my fellow trustees, volunteers and Friends Committee for working so hard to bring it all to fruition.

“From set-up last November until now, this year alone we have staged five separate major exhibitions and, considering the work of research, design and creation and production of the displays are all done in-house, it has been a remarkable achievement for four retired people.”

Despite the fanfare, it proved a slow start for the town’s new history attraction, low visitor numbers, lack of visible support from the town’s coouncil representatives and no sign of any viable finacial commitment, the situation was somewhat less than auspicious.

“Our year began very slowly and visitor numbers were poor, for surprisingly, even though we are based within a busy shopping centre, it has taken several months for the public to realise our presence but building on a popular Glens football exhibition and from the commencement of the WW1 exhibition we have almost tripled our weekly visitor numbers,” Linda told the Gazette.

She also paid tribute to the continued sponsorship support from Mars Pension Trustees Ltd., Tullis Russell and Clan Leslie Charitable Trust, Fife Charities Trust and Fife Council for their financial support.

Linda also thanked the Gazette and one of its former reporters who was instrumental in bringing about a desire for a heritage centre within the town to exist in the first place.

“The Gazette, the town’s own newspaper, has supported our own marketing efforts by offering excellent coverage of all our events and stories throughout the year and it would be remiss of me not to mention the late Mike Delaney at this point, who, only five years ago, invited me to spearhead a campaign for a Heritage Centre.

‘‘I know he’d be really proud of what’s been achieved,” said Linda.

With visitor numbers up and growing interest from schools and community groups, as well as a rapidly expanding historical archive of documents, photographs and items of historical local importance, the Heritage Group are set fair to continue preserving the town’s history for future generations to come.

Celebrating an eventful first year for town’s Heritage Centre

‘This last 12 months has made it abundantly clear that the Heritage Centre is an integral part of the town.

“As more and more people begin to visit the wide ranging exhibitions and public events it’s obvious it is, and will continue to prove, a valuable resource for schools, community groups and individuals alike.

“The centre’s role is a vital one in allowing the younger generations to learn about the origins of their town.

“I particularly want to commend and congratulate the tireless efforts of trustees and volunteers behind the scenes for making it all happen.”

Tricia Marwick, Mid Fife and Glenrothes MSP and Presiding Officer at the Scottish Parliament.

‘I’d like to extend my warmest wishes to Glenrothes Heritage Centre as it marks its first birthday. It was a long, hard fight to get the centre up and running and I am delighted that it is now well established.

Its success is down to the diligence and commitment of a group of dedicated volunteers.

“It is a real treasure trove and is full of fascinating facts and information, as currently shown by the WW1 exhibition which is well worth a visit if you have not already been.

“Linda Ballingall and her team of outstanding volunteers are still seeking financial support to sustain the Heritage Centre in the future, and I appeal to all interested parties to work with her to try to ensure that we do not lose this precious resource because of lack of funding”

Lindsay Roy, Glenrothes and Central Fife MP.