A north-east tourist attraction stopped in its tracks by lockdown this season is working full steam ahead to ensure it can meet social-distancing guidelines for its 2021 reopening.
Maud Railway Museum has been granted £20,750 to aid the renovation of its toilet facilities so that it can welcome back visitors.
The volunteer-run attraction would usually host at least one open weekend each month between April and October each year, but could not reopen even when lockdown restrictions eased in July over fears for the health and age of some of their volunteers.
And there were concerns that the public convenience offerings at the former railway station at Maud Junction were too outdated to keep suitably clean in the current environment.
Des Byrne, from Friends of Maud Railway Museum, said: “This money is going to cover the costs of upgrading our toilets to be compatible with the needs of Covid-19 restrictions.
“It doesn’t help us in terms of loss of revenue this year but it enables us to reopen with modern toilets that we can keep clean and hygienic.
“The existing toilets were installed by British Rail in the 1960s or 1970s and they leave a lot to be desired – as does the disabled facilities installed in the 1980s.”
The new facilities will be in place for the attraction’s planned reopening in April, which will also be a chance for the friends group to unveil the improvement and expansion plans its been working on throughout 2020.
“We’ve had regular support over the summer from our members and friends and we have volunteers out there doing things around the museum for the love of it,” Mr Byrne, of Westhill, added.
“We have an extensive programme and when we reopen it will be a whole new experience for people.
“We’ve a new room with video displays and a new display about all the stations along the track from Dyce to Fraserburgh and Peterherad, showing what they looked like all mapped and photographed. We’ve also a new display about the World War I railway line at the Longside air base.
“We are looking forward to it becoming a five-star attraction.”
The museum also boasts a fully restored railway carriage which was used to carry convicts from Peterhead prison to the quarries at Stirlinghill, an old turntable and a water tower.
The new facilities will also be offered for use to walkers and cyclists using the Formartine and Buchan Way.
The five-figure sum was awarded by Museums Galleries Scotland’s recovery and resilience fund.
Aberdeenshire east MSP Gillian Martin said: “I am delighted funding has been awarded to the Friends of Maud Railway Museum.
“This is a critical time and funding like this is essential to help support independent museums which have been put at risk by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I look forward to being able to visit the museum and seeing all the completed upgrades.”
The resilience fund comes from the £97 million package of funding to protect Scotland’s culture and heritage sectors from the impacts of Covid-19.