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Architects and heritage experts work on new plan to develop home of Robert Burns

The Scottish poet wrote some of his most celebrated works at Ellisland Farm, near Dumfries, where he lived with his wife Jean Armour.

06 October 2022

A new plan to develop Robert Burns’s first home is being pieced together by some of Scotland’s leading architects and heritage experts.

Ellisland Farm and Museum, near Dumfries, was the only home built by the Scottish poet and is where he lived with his wife Jean Armour.

The site is known for being the place where Burns wrote some of his most celebrated works, including Auld Lang Syne and Tam O’ Shanter.

Robert Burns
Robert Burns lived at the site with his wife Jean Armour (Alamy/PA)

A team of architects and heritage experts, including some who worked on the development of Edinburgh’s Old Town, won the contract to revive the site, which has been run as a heritage attraction since 1928.

The new plan aims to look at ways to restore the 1788 buildings, improve the area’s biodiversity and to develop better ways for people to access the site’s nature, including by bicycle, foot and public transport.

The £30,000 development was commissioned by the Robert Burns Ellisland Trust charity, which has run the site since 2020.

The trust said the plan would also look at boosting visitors to the site, create new learning opportunities for people who visited and improve income levels, as it received no regular public subsidy.

The works would be funded by The Architectural Heritage Fund/Historic Environment Scotland, South of Scotland Enterprise and The Holywood Trust.

Original manuscript of Auld Lang Syne
Original manuscript of Auld Lang Syne (David Cheskin/PA)

Delfinity Limited won the contract to develop the site after a competitive tendering exercise.

The team includes Oliver Chapman Architects and HarrisonStevens Landscape Architects, who have worked on developing Edinburgh’s Old Town, and heritage expert Lyndsay Clark, whose experience includes projects with the V&A in Dundee and National Museums Scotland.

Joan McAlpine, of the trust, said: “We are so excited to work with such a talented team of experts.

“The home of Auld Lang Syne should be recognised around the world as a place to celebrate Burns, nature and Scottish culture.

“We want more people, especially young people, to be inspired by Ellisland the way Burns was inspired – and also to generate economic benefit and jobs for this part of south Scotland.

“We will of course reach out to the wider community to develop that vision.”

Hazel Allen, director of Delfinity and lead on the project, said: “The Delfinity team are thrilled to be working with the trust to develop a compelling masterplan for this unique site, so pivotal in the life of Burns.

“Delfinity have a strong track record in the creation of robust, sustainable business models in the third and private sectors and are excited by the breadth of opportunity that the Ellisland could offer.”

The trust said engagement with local community, cultural and youth organisations would be an essential part of working up the plan over the next six months before it was officially presented in March next year.

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