The Prince of Wales – known as the Duke of Rothesay while in Scotland – was ‘thrilled’ to reopen the fully restored New Cumnock Town Hall in East Ayrshire last week, which he had previously helped save from demolition.
As great steward of the Dumfries House Trust, Prince Charles led a coalition of heritage bodies and charities in buying the house and the surrounding communities in 2007. Originally built in 1888, the town hall was due to be demolished before being saved by the Dumfries House Trust.
The project is part of a wider regeneration of the New Cumnock town centre which aims to ‘bring the heart back to the community’ according to Gordon Neil, the development and facilities manager at the Dumfries House Trust. He said:
‘We were approached a number of years ago to see if we would assist to try and save this building as it was earmarked for demolition. ‘We took it on board and the Prince got involved, he was very passionate about it as he always has a passion for historic buildings and didn’t want to see it going to waste. The purpose of the building was to give the community something back. It’s made a massive difference. The reaction has been so positive. Everyone has been really behind it 110%.’
In a speech addressing the gathered crowd celebrating the official reopening, the heir to the British throne made it clear that he is hopeful the building will be a ‘real asset’ for the surrounding community, saying:
‘I really could not be more thrilled to be joining you here today in the newly refurbished New Cumnock Town Hall.
‘When I first took on Dumfries House it was always my greatest ambition to do as much as possible for all the various communities surrounding the estate, so this project is our first foray into this work and I very much want to thank the people of New Cumnock for being so wonderfully welcoming and enthusiastic.
‘It will be 10 years next year since we started at Dumfries House. A huge amount has changed since then, change that I hope has benefited many people in our local community.
‘Dumfries House, I need hardly say, has a very special place in my heart for all sorts of reasons and I look forward to working for many more years within this wider community and beyond in continued effort to do what I can to help in this part of Scotland.’
During his visit the Duke of Rothesay toured the facility, meeting staff, children from the local nursery, and members of community groups. He unveiled a plaque to mark the occasion and watched a special ballet performance put on by the PA School of Dance.