Something for everyone at North-east heritage centre

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Fraserburgh’s award-winning Heritage Centre opened for the new season on April 1.

Commerce and tourism links with Europe is the central theme this year with new displays highlighting how the Broch developed as a trading port from the 16th century, and more recently established a twinning association with France.

Two of the entrance corridor windows feature a new display to mark the 20th anniversary of Fraserburgh’s twinning with Bressuire in France, while inside the centre an informative audio visual and photographic exhibition illustrates the commendable work of the association.

Some 300 years earlier, Fraserburgh began trading with its European neighbours, in particular the Baltic countries. An innovative display demonstrates the trade routes across the North Sea. Younger visitors can sail a number of ships to and from the various ports by simply pressing a button.

Designed as an educational tool, all age groups can discover the different types of exports and imports, and their uses, from years gone by.

A brief account of Fraserburgh’s whaling industry will be of interest too along with early navigation equipment and a nearby newly installed radar simulator donated by Marconi Selenia Co. Ltd.

Once again visitors can recall many scenes of yesteryear by viewing George McDonald’s unique display of old photographs of Fraserburgh. Some 60 images and panoramic views of the Old Broch make this a ‘must see’ exhibition.

Fashion lovers can view the recently enhanced Bill Gibb display and colourful collage depicting important moments in Bill’s life. Visitors cannot but fail to miss the six-feet high panel produced by Tyrie school for the Homecoming Scotland initiative in 2009. In addition, newly installed mirrors in the window present Bill’s exquisite creations to excellent effect

Regular visitors to the Heritage Centre and Broadsea (Schools project) display will notice two model sailing yachts dominating the air space above the village model layout.

One of these ‘racing yachts’ was used at the Watermill Dam in years past. The Society is keen to display more about this popular pastime. Readers are requested to contact the Heritage Centre if they have old photographs of Watermill Dam ‘racing yachts’.

Countless hours of volunteers home research contributes to making more than 20 displays more interesting for our seasonal visitors.

Heritage Society volunteers have spent the winter months organising these displays and attractions. The audio visual room now offers an audio loop and sound system.

And there is the audio-guide facility introduced last year. Mindful of visitor safety, the entire floor area (650 square feet) has been freshly painted with slip-resistant paint to reduce risk of injury on the concrete surface.

Aberdeenshire Council has been instrumental in effecting improvements to the centre. Funding has enabled the heritage society to purchase comfortable fire retardant seating used for special events, and new display panels allowing an improved presentation of photographic exhibitions.