Tingwall agricultural museum put on hold amid lack of funding support

Popular proposals to build an agricultural museum in Tingwall have been put on the back-burner because of a shortfall in funding.

The gloomy economic climate has left organisers searching in vain for the £1.3 million needed to go ahead with the project.

However the idea is being kept alive in the hope a major source of funding can be found in the future which will help bring the project to fruition.

In the meantime it is hoped the newly formed Credit Union, with its attractive rate of interest, may be used to let donations that have already been secured grow.

Just over a year has passed since a 60-strong crowd turned out at the Tingwall Hall in support of the ambitious plans, which it’s hoped may yet highlight the island’s vibrant agricultural history. A committee was promptly formed.

However there was a more sombre mood at the hall on Wednesday night as chairman Drew Anderson admitted the search for funding had so far proved largely unfruitful.

Fund-raising activities, including a classic tractor run, have been taking place, which have helped give the committee a bank balance of around £6,000.

However major funding suppliers from both in the isles and beyond have declined to show their support.

“There are three funding bodies outside of Shetland we thought we could maybe get help from. That’s the SRDP, Big Lottery and the Heritage Lottery,” said Mr Anderson.

“The SRDP was closed before we got the application form filled in, so that was no use. We met with the Big Lottery last year. We did a presentation in Islesburgh, and had a one-to-one discussion.

“We laid down our drawings and they agreed it’s a very fine project, ‘but you’ll get no money fae wis’.

“We tried the Heritage Lottery. Vic Thomas spent several hours putting in a pre-application to the Heritage Lottery – which is done online – only to get a reply in 10 days saying ‘we don’t do museums any more’.

“They’ve apparently funded projects that have gone to the wall.”

Mr Anderson said he had also spoken to “local sources” including Shetland Charitable Trust, the council’s development department and HIE, but to no avail.

“The Leader fund is due to finish in 2013, so anything we were going to do would have to be done, spent and claimed by April 2013.”

Mr Anderson said the decision to keep the door open for investment was made following continued public support.

“We had two options – we either close the book and walk away, or keep our ear to the ground.

“The reason we didn’t close the book was because of the level of support we’ve had from the public. Fund-raising events have been very well attended.

“But owing to this financial situation, the committee has decided we’re going to put the project on hold for the time being.

“We’re very disappointed to have to tell you this tonight, but as you ken it’s a lot of money.”

A fund-raising programme of events which has been running over the last year has now been cancelled.

“We didn’t feel we could ask folks to put their hands in their pockets – and I’m sure everybody would – to support something that is maybe not going to happen. Folk are willing to support us without being asked.

“We’re hoping somehow, from somewhere, money will come, but we’re going to sit on it until next year until we see.”

Plans for the museum emerged last April. Architects Redman and Sutherland drew up attractive plans for a building which could provide a home for much of Shetland’s classic agricultural machinery, as well as an educational focal point for visitors.


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