Deputy provost launches new visitor season at Maggie Law Maritime museum

Deputy Provost Norman Smith was joined by Councillors Carl Nelson and Peter Bellarby to mark the official opening.
Deputy Provost Norman Smith was joined by Councillors Carl Nelson and Peter Bellarby to mark the official opening.

Deputy Provost of Aberdeenshire, Norman Smith, has launched the 2014 visitor season at Gourdon’s Maggie Law Museum.

Councillor Smith was joined on Monday by Councillors Carl Nelson and Peter Bellarby for the launch, which marked the beginning of a six-day opening celebration.

The museum was reopened in 2013, with support from Aberdeenshire Council, Kincardine and Mearns, after being closed to the public for a number of years.

During this period, the museum has had over 1500 visitors in the first year of operation, raising more than £2500 in donations.

With new tourist signage on the A92, and new marketing initiatives, these targets will be exceeded this year.

The museum houses the first inshore lifeboat, the Maggie Law, built by James (Jeems) Mowatt in Gourdon in 1890, which was paid for by the payment of a penny in the pound from the catches of the fishermen of the village.

In a proud service record of 40 years, the Maggie Law saved a total of 36 lives and today holds pride of place in the museum.

In December, it was was awarded a £5000 grant from the Aberdeenshire Council Initiative, “Be part of the Picture,” through the Visitor Attraction Improvement Scheme grant. It gained a three star Visit Scotland visitor rating in the first year of operation, and the award was handed over to the Museum by Nigel Don MSP in 2013

Project director Dave Ramsay, said “This support from Aberdeenshire Council has enabled us to make significant new improvements to the museum.

‘‘It also allows us to enhance the overall visitor experience, but particularly for people with physical or sensory disabilities.”

“It is fitting that the launch of the new opening involves key people and councillors who have been extremely supportive of this community heritage initiative.”

The visiting party were guided by museum volunteers, and were able to see at first hand the many changes which have taken place since the opening in 2013, and the valuable contributions and products these specialist volunteers are a making to the Gourdon community maritime heritage.

The opening of a new IT research suite on the upper deck of the museum paves the way for educational visits from schools and heritage groups.

The museum has a wide range of community support activities, and has just recently completed the restoration of an RNLI flag garden in a joint Project with Primary Four Bervie school pupils.

New exhibits have been donated during the winter months and are now on display, with further major acquisitions ready to arrive.

Deputy Provost Smith said; “Aberdeenshire Council has been delighted to be able to support the Maggie Law Maritime Museum.  

‘‘The interesting displays reflect the hard work and commitment of the local community and volunteers. The Maggie Law has lots to offer both tourists and those with an interest in maritime history.

‘‘I was impressed to see how much work has gone into making the museum accessible to all people.’’ 

The museum will be open from 1–4.30pm every day except Tuesdays.

Entry is by donation.