East Neuk museum unveils ambitious project to transform old cinema

Simon Hayhow
Simon Hayhow

One of Fife’s best-known visitor attractions is projecting its long-term ambitions on to a transformation of the burgh’s old cinema.

The Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther is hoping to turn the former silver screen premises in Cunzie Street into a collection centre, where it can house and preserve some of the larger pieces among its exhibits, such as boats.

The Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther wants to expand

The Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther wants to expand

The St Ayles facility has lodged an application with Fife Council for a change of use from a derelict storage building – previously the Empire Cinema – to form a museum, and make external alterations.

If approved, it also aims to create a work area, so it can preserve its bigger exhibits and look after them in storage, while freshening up its main displays more readily.

At present, the large boat exhibits are stored in the gallery.

The building was also used previously by local fishermen to accommodate vessels and equipment, so its history fits in well with what the Museum hopes to do now.

“It’s quite a long-term project – the first phase is to get it wind and watertight,” said director Simon Hayhow.

Staff are also keen to find out more about the building’s history, and borrow any pictures or old photographs of the outside of it.

The venue, which was also a Tennents brewery at one time, is thought to have opened as a cinema in 1919 and remained until the late 1950s when it became a dairy, and latterly a fishermen’s storage area.

The museum has received some assistance from the Scottish Government and is seeking a grant from Fife Historic Buidlings Trust.

Mr Hayhow added that, if the plan was approved, the museum hoped eventually to link the collection centre to future development at the main site, and also open it to the public from time to time, as people were interested in seeing “behind the scenes”.