In 2016, the former Peterhead prison reopened as a visitor destination under the Admiralty Gateway Charitable Trust, and gained a five-star VisitScotland award in 2019.But due to Covid restrictions, the attraction was forced to close for 10 months without visitor income.And the operating trust wrote to Nicola Sturgeon last month, warning that financial assistance would be required or the museum could close.At First Minister’s questions, North East MSP Douglas Lumsden urged Ms Sturgeon to support a “excellent” tourist destination.The Scottish Conservative said: “The old Prison at Peterhead was turned into a visitor attraction in 2016.“And after spending time there, as a visitor not a resident, I have to say it is an excellent day out.“The Museum is struggling financially due to the pandemic and I believe they have written to the First Minister pleading for financial assistance.“Will the First Minister commit to provide financial assistance to save Peterhead Prison Museum from closure?”Ms Sturgeon responded: “It’s a serious matter, visitor attractions across the country have suffered greatly because of COVID.“We are seeking to help them recover. I’m not able, I'm sure the member will appreciate, to give a commitment to financial assistance for Peterhead in particular today."But I do undertake to look in detail at the matter and consider whether we, or perhaps more appropriately, the council can be encouraged to do more to support it."Mr Lumsden said later: “The Scottish Government has been slow to get Covid money out to businesses of all kinds during the pandemic, and the effects of that are being seen across the board.“The First Minister knows that the SNP-Green coalition government have been given record sums from the Treasury to spur our Covid recovery since 2020.“There should be enough to stop our cultural institutions from going under. Arguing about who pays will only run the clock down when time is short for the likes of Peterhead.”
The Buchanie has previously covered the issue of Peterhead Prison Museum’s predicament where manager Alex Geddes commented: “The museum like many other attractions across Scotland has seen very challenging times these past two year's, and out of the last 24 months we had to close for 10 of them. Even when we were allowed to open we only saw 25% of normal capacity through our doors, as there were no coach trips, cruise liners or international visitors during this period.
All the time our fixed costs had to be paid and the current energy crises just adds to the financial strain on the charity.
Although much fanfare was had about funding being released at the start of December 2020, the reality is once divided up across the country and for different levels we are only dealing with a few thousand pounds of an offering and after comparing the same months pre-covid we are in excess of £48,000 down, and running costs are spiralling upwards.