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New future sought for banking museum

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By Fiona Reid
Nostalgia
New future sought for banking museum

PLANS are being drawn up for the future of the Savings Bank Museum in Ruthwell.

Last week TSB, owners of the museum, agreed to a u-turn on plans to close the museum and move the contents to the HQ in Edinburgh.

And on Friday banking bosses met with members of the local community and politicians in Dumfries to discuss a way forward.

Just before that meeting it was revealed they did not plan to go through with original proposals and would, instead, be seeking a way to transfer the museum to the community.

During the talks, South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth urged the Trustee Savings Banks (TSB) to support an interim plan to avoid the museum being closed for a lengthy period.

Although the bank has now agreed not to remove the artefacts from Ruthwell and transfer them to a new planned exhibition at their headquarters in Edinburgh, they have confirmed they won’t re-open the museum themselves.

But Mr Smyth is concerned that establishing a new body and securing the funds needed to run the museum in a sustainable way could take several years.

He urged the bank to look at an interim measure whereby an existing local group runs the museum, with financial support from the TSB, until a new body can fully take over ownership.

Mr Smyth said: “The talks with the TSB were constructive and there was recognition that the bank had moved considerably from their original plan simply to close the museum and move the most important artefacts to Edinburgh.

“But the bank also made clear that the TSB will not re-open the museum even in the short-term.

“My fear is, if we have a lengthy closure, then the museum will simply drop out of tourism guides and not be in any tourism publicity in the coming months aimed at bringing people to the region as we move out of the pandemic.”

The museum, like almost all others, has been closed for 15 months due to the pandemic.

Mr Smyth added: “They are now re-opening and I hope we see the same for the savings bank museum within months rather than years as the longer it is closed, the more challenging it will be to re-open and keep in the public eye.”

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