Plans to give museum new lease of life

KIRKCALDY;'JOHN McDOUALL STUART MUSEUM, 1 RECTORY LANE, Dysart, Kirkcaldy.'Photo ; WALTER NEILSON

KIRKCALDY;'JOHN McDOUALL STUART MUSEUM, 1 RECTORY LANE, Dysart, Kirkcaldy.'Photo ; WALTER NEILSON

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plans have been put forward to give a former museum in Dysart a new lease of life.

Fife Historic Buildings Trust wants to turn the McDouall Stuart Museum, which was closed by Fife Council in 2009 due to poor visitor numbers, into holiday flats so that people with an interest in the explorer’s life can share his heritage.

And the plans have been backed by the Dysart Trust which has been working alongside FHBT on the project.

Dysart Trust hopes to continue the McDouall Stuart connection with the royal burgh through its summer exhibition in Dysart town hall.

McDouall Stuart who was born in Dysart in 1815 in the house the museum was in, was the first man to cross the whole of Australia from south to north.

Six attempts

He took six attempts to do so and finally achieved his goal at the age of 47.

He is a celebrated figure in Australia, much more so than in his native land, and has a 950 mile highway in the country named after him, as well as many other streets and landmarks.

The museum in Dysart opened in his former birthplace around 30 years ago, and was visited mainly by visitors from Australia. It has lain unused since it was closed in 2009.

Christine May, chairman of Fife Historic Buildings Trust, explained that its aim was to bring the historic building back into public use.

“Regrettably, John McDouall Stuart is much less well known and appreciated in Scotland than Australia, where he is a giant.

Sadness

“It has been a source of great sadness to the Trust and many people who appreciate what he did in opening up the Australian sub continent that the museum has been closed since 2009.

“What is good is that the regeneration of Dysart is at a stage where we can put forward plans for something to be done with what is a very important historical building and provide a legacy to McDouall Stuart.

“We would like the building to be converted into holiday flats so that people who appreciate its historical significance will be able to come and stay there.

“We already get a large number of Australian visitors coming here to see friends and family, and with the Commonwealth Games coming to Glasgow in 2014, it would be ideal to provide a lovely place for people coming to the Games to stay.”

A spokesman for Dysart Trust said: “It would be good to see the building getting a new lease of life.

“We are committed to keeping the McDouall Stuart story alive in the town where he was born and are hoping to display some of the material from the museum in our exhibition in the town hall over the summer months.”