Grant Lodge – past, present & future

Grant Lodge (courtesy of Stuart Huyton)

The Grant Lodge Trust is offering the people of Elgin two unique opportunities to find out more about Elgin’s Grant Lodge over the next two weeks.

This Wednesday, 9 January, from 10.30 to 11.30, at Moray Playhouse, the Trust will show archive films of Elgin and the opening of the Lodge in 1903, described at the time, in the Christmas Number of the Northern Scot, as “the leading event in Elgin” that year.

The Trust will also use the occasion to outline its ideas for the future of the Lodge and invite the audience to attend a second event to be held from 5.30 to 7.30pm the following Wednesday, 16 January, at Elgin Town Hall.

The second event will provide participants with an opportunity to find out about the current condition of the Lodge and to discuss the Trust’s vision for its future. This will include a question and answer session with members of the Board of Grant Lodge Trust and other interested parties. Light refreshments will also be on offer.

As many of our readers will know, Grant Lodge, in Cooper Park, used to be the Elgin Public Library.

Stuart Huyton, one of the Trustees of Grant Lodge Trust, reminisces: “Grant Lodge holds special memories for many past and present inhabitants of Elgin and Moray. In pre-Internet days, libraries were the main sources of knowledge and many a childhood involved research for school homework in the reference room at Grant Lodge.”

The fire which closed the Lodge took place in 2003.  In the fifteen years since, not much has happened apart from that some of the boarded-up windows have had decorative panels attached, depicting local characters.

Public perception might be that nothing is happening and, it’s true that that was the case for many of those years, however, there are two groups who have been working away and campaigning tirelessly for the Lodge to be restored: the Friends of Grant Lodge and the Grant Lodge Trust.

Stuart picks up the story again: “It would not be appropriate to go into details here of the pitiful saga of why nothing has been done in fifteen years but, suffice to say, there were several occasions during those years when the Lodge was on the point of being refurbished and brought back into use for the benefit of the people and community of Elgin, which was the intention of Sir George Cooper who gave the Lodge and the Park as a free gift in 1903. Unfortunately, all of those plans fell through.

“As we enter the New Year of 2019, however, there is a faint glimmer of hope on the horizon. Grant Lodge Trust is working on an application to Moray Council for a Community Asset Transfer of the Lodge.  A Project Development Officer has been appointed to facilitate and guide the application process.

“The application needs to be accompanied by a business plan, which also needs to provide evidence of support from the local community.”

Along with these two events, the Trust is distributing leaflets which provide details on how members of the public can show their support. These leaflets will be available in numerous locations within Elgin, such as shops, hotels, the museum, library, cafés, etc.

Support can also be given by visiting the Trust’s website at http://www.grant-lodge.org.uk/contact_glt.html and filling in the form there, or by sending an email to: [email protected] expressing your interest.

The website of the Friends of Grant Lodge provides a detailed timeline of all major events from the construction of the Lodge in 1750 right up to the present day.  There is also a news section there which makes interesting reading: www.grant-lodge.org.uk

Both events are free and open to all.