One of Fife’s most prominent heritage organisations is to disband for good because of the impact of the coronavirus.
The Glenrothes And Area Heritage Centre, which should have been celebrating its 10th anniversary next month, has closed permanently.
There is now uncertainty over the future of many of the historic artefacts and collections the centre has amassed in the last decade.
Among them is a collection from the estate of the Earl of Rothes, which includes the number plaque from the lifeboat rowed by the Countess of Rothes at the sinking of the Titanic.
The centre also holds a large collection relating to Glenrothes Development Corporation as well as the recently acquired archives of celebrated former town artist, Malcolm Robertson.
The organisation gained national prominence in 2012 for its Titanic centenary exhibition which attracted media attention and visitors from around the world, including a visit from Hollywood actress Rochelle Rose, who played the Countess of Rothes in the multi-Oscar winning film.
Linda Ballingall, founder and chairperson, described the decision as “heartbreaking but unavoidable” and said the group had been left with no alternative because of the devastating effect of the pandemic.
She said: “There’s been a lot of soul searching over the last few months but with the long-term future regarding the pandemic and its continuing impact on how we can operate, it’s with a heavy heart that we have come to this decision.
“We will now take time to consider how best to safeguard the future of some of the centre’s collections as well as how best to preserve the wealth of social history, photographs and artefacts that have been presented to us over the 13 years since we first formed.”
Linda also paid tribute to vice-chairman David Brown who had been there throughout the last 13 years , as well as to the Clan Leslie Charitable Trust for its support and the Kingdom Shopping Centre which had provided the premises for the centre’s visitor attraction.
Glenrothes MSP, Jenny Gilruth said she was saddened by the news.
She added: “The Glenrothes Area Heritage Centre told the story of the town and will be sorely missed.
“In 2018 when I hosted a Birthday in Parliament for Glenrothes’ 70th I couldn’t think of an organisation better than the Heritage Centre to sponsor it.
“I would like to pay tribute to Linda and her dedicated team.
“Whilst the centre has signalled its intent to close I have offered my support as the town’s MSP and I hope that moving forward we will not lose the stories that tell the history of Glenrothes and the surrounding towns and villages.”