Attractions industry news

27 Nov 2018

Exclusive: Joanna Lumley aims to open up a 'world of stories' as patron of Peter Pan literary attraction in Scotland

With work well underway to develop a Peter Pan-themed literary visitor attraction in Scotland, its patron, Joanna Lumley, has spoken to Attractions Management about the scheme and what it will mean for a "forgotten corner of Scotland".

Expected to draw around 250,000 visitors a year to the Dumfries area of the country, the historic Moat Brae house – the inspiration for writer JM Barrie's Peter Pan – is undergoing a major redevelopment to transform it into a national centre for children’s literature and storytelling.

Lumley – who boasts an acting career spanning nearly five decades, has backed the project, throwing her weight behind it as the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust’s patron.

"Moat Brae matters on many levels," said Lumley, speaking to Attractions Management. "Dumfries and the wider region have had a tough time economically for many years and a new international visitor attraction will make a valuable contribution to all the regeneration work taking place. It’s a very beautiful part of Britain and once people discover it they often return."

The Moat Brae Trust was established in 2009, to save the Georgian-era property, which was just three days away from being demolished when it was taken over by the group. Plans were then made to develop the historic location as the country’s first centre for children’s literature, with Lumley helping to raise £6.1m (US$8m, €6.9m) of the £8m (US$10.4m, €9m) needed for the full restoration.

"Ultimately my role is to focus attention on the really important things," she said. "That means shining a spotlight on the efforts being made by staff and volunteers at Moat Brae to create something that’ll be very special in the lives of generations of children."

As the birthplace of Peter Pan, the building and its gardens have a significant place in literary history. For Lumley, though it’s not just about the past, but also the future – the house will act as a place of inspiration for young people who are interested in the creative realms of writing, acting and art.

"Moat Brae will give children and young people access to a whole new world of stories and creativity," she said.

"Firing young imaginations is enormously important and that’s what Moat Brae is all about. The more we can ignite a love of stories in young people, the better. It’s by doing this that we will nurture the next generation of readers, writers, illustrators, actors, games designers and other creative adults."

To hear more from Joanna Lumley, check out the latest issue of Attractions Management, available here.

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