Contractors Balfour Beatty have now taken possession of the Moat Brae site in Dumfries, after winning the contract to revive the house and garden where the young J M Barrie was inspired to create Peter Pan, his friends and their pirate foes.
Welcoming the move, Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust (PPMBT) patron Joanna Lumley said: “Sometimes dreams really can come true.
“It’s marvellous that work has now begun to turn this beautiful house and garden, that had gone to rack and ruin, into a national centre for literature and storytelling that will welcome children from around the world.”
She added: “I think JM Barrie would be overjoyed that the place which inspired his dreams of Peter Pan will soon be firing the imaginations of today’s children.”
The centre will open in the autumn of 2018 and will be a place to discover children’s literature and storytelling from many eras, countries and cultures.
The grounds will be reinvented as a Neverland Discovery Garden.
PPMBT chairwoman Dame Barbara Kelly said: “It’s all systems go as the restoration begins and the house and garden are transformed.
“Moat Brae will soon become an inspirational year-round local, national and international visitor attraction and resource for all ages to enjoy.”
She added: “The project’s contribution to the economic regeneration of Dumfries is of tremendous importance and cannot be under-estimated. It will directly create at least a dozen new jobs and will provide many other opportunities for people in the area.”
Creative Scotland are supporting the creation of the National Centre for Children’s Literature and Storytelling.
And Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “The new National Centre for Children’s Literature and Storytelling will make a significant contribution to the cultural and tourism sector in Dumfries and across Scotland.”
The £5 million restoration contract was awarded after an extensive competitive tendering process, and the total £5.7 million project has support from The National Lottery, Creative Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland and Dumfries and Galloway Council.