Record numbers visit Tolbooth

Stewart Spence presented awards at the Tolbooth on Sunday
Stewart Spence presented awards at the Tolbooth on Sunday

THE Tolbooth museum has recorded record visitor numbers this season.

It was revealed on Sunday that 8,150 visitors had passed through the doors of Stonehaven’s oldest buildings so far this year.

The Tolbooth’s year has been full of uncertainty, with Aberdeeenshire Council announcing it’s closure due to budget cuts at the start of the year.

However being aware of the Tolbooth’s importance to the town, a a group of local volunteers stepped in to save it.

The group were then hit with a number of problems. The museum did not open until a month later than normal, and then was not open fully until July. However despite this delay in opening, the Tolbooth museum visitor numbers are up from last year when it was run by the local authority.

This is a huge boost for the forty volunteers who help keep the museum running.

The Tolbooth had another boost this week as Visitcotland who assessed the Museum during the Summer, with a mystery shopper visit, awarded the Museum a three star attraction with it only missing four star status by just two points. In the report it scored The Tolbooth 10/10 for customer engagement.

The Tolbooth museum will remain open for weekends and on demand for schools and clubs during the winter months.

As well as announcing record visitors, The Tolbooth museum gained twenty-five new ambassadors on Sunday as prizes were handed out for the Jail House Rock Competition.

The Tolbooth Museum has been running the competition, which allowed children along with their guardians to discover the history of the Tolbooth, all summer.

The competition attracted over 170 entries and the 25 lucky winners visited the museum to collect their prizes and to be named Tolbooth ambassadors.

Stewart Spence, who owns the five star Marcliffe Hotel and Spa in Aberdeen, was there to hand out the prizes. Mr Spence has a particular interest in tourism, not just as a whole, but in Stonehaven as he opened the Commadore Hotel in the town in 1970.

Mr Spence said: “I know the Tolbooth, its importance as a Community asset and tourist attraction to Stonehaven very well. It is particularly pleasing, to a business man like myself, to see local Community Groups working together to make such a success.

“Tourism is a vital part of our economy and requires a skilled, well-educated and knowledgeable workforce. Tourism, as an academic discipline, needs to be integrated far more into our School’s academic curriculum and not just seen as a vocational or 2nd best option for pupils.

“I want the best to consider a career in Tourism. I have travelled all over the world and tourism is a core subject for primary school children in many countries. The enthusiasm here today proves that “Kids into Tourism” is an exciting subject”.