Appeal to save 'tin cathedral'

AN APPEAL has been made to save a historic town hall in the centre of Buchan after claims it risks imminent closure.

Tuesday, 14th September 2010, 11:50 am

Tortorston Hall, which is situated just outside Peterhead, desperately requires an upgrade and the hall's committee has appealed for people to take on the project after experiencing financial difficulties.

George Marshall, who has been committee chairman for 15 years, told the Buchanie that if the hall were to shut down it would be "piece of history vanishing".

He said: "The issue is that there is just no income. It is locals who run it and we have a handful of members. We charge for the use of the building but at the moment the use is few and far between.

"The local Women's Rural Institute sometimes hold their meetings here, and we have had a couple of children's parties but it is not enough to keep the hall in running order. The main fact is that the outgoings far outstrip the incomings and we have expeienced financial difficulty keeping it running.

"Between water rates and electricity bills it is too much. The insurance is an issue as well as it is a timber building."

The committee believes that the Tortorston Hall was originally built as a mission hall sometime between 1900 and 1920 and claimed it must have been a gift to the community as they have no information as to who the former owners were.

Mr Marshall said: "We have advertised for committee meetings but nobody ever shows up. It is no longer viable for us to keep it open as it needs a huge refurbishment and upgrade, and we do not have the finance to arrange that.

"Quite a number of people have told me that they remember going to Sunday School in the hall so it is obvious there is a depth of history there with local people. It would be a such a shame to have to close it down."

The treasurer, who has been on the Tortorston Hall Committee for 24 years, added: "It will need a lot of money spent on it. It's awful to give up on such a historic building but we just don't have the finance to take it on.

"It would be great to see someone who has an interest in the project to refurbish it, as then it could remain open and that's the main thing."

Mainly used for weekly dances, concerts and church services in the past, many local people fondly referred to the hall as their "tin cathedral".

Mr Marshall added: "We have made some improvements to the building over the years. We put toilets in about 10 years ago which were desperately needed, and we also fitted a ramp for disabled access.

"The bottom line is the three of us on the committee can't raise the money needed to revamp it. It might be a better idea to knock it down and start again but we need someone willing to do that in order to save it - if it closes it will be a bit of local history that will be vanishing."