A politician has got on board with plans to extend Kerr’s Miniature Railway at Arbroath’s waterfront to ensure the once-thriving tourist attraction has a future.
The railway is the oldest in Scotland and the only one in the world that uses a 10 ¼ inch gauge.
For more than 80 years families have flocked to the attraction, which opened on West Links Park in 1935.
John Kerr, 22, the third generation of his family to run the venture, fears it could come off the tracks and has put plans to extend the railway on hold.
Visitor numbers have halved in the last decade, partly blamed on the relocation of the play park on the West Links further away from the railway.
Kirstene Hair, Scottish Conservative MP, has backed the planned extension and urged Angus Council to similarly throw its weight behind the proposal.
She has asked chief executive Margo Williamson to make a commitment to the future of Kerr’s, but has acknowledged this may need to be a cost-neutral solution which would not impact on the cash-strapped council’s finances.
She said: “Kerr’s is iconic to Arbroath’s waterfront, it would be incredibly disappointing if it was not able to keep going for at least another 80 years.
“There must be some way of securing its long-term future, and I hope the council can assist Kerr’s with extending the track towards the play park to boost visitor numbers..
“The value of this unique attraction to our tourist economy is worthy of support and I hope Angus Council are able to help preserve this historic asset.”
A spokesman for Angus Council said the local authority and the Angus Tourism Co-operative stood “ready and willing” to discuss the development of tourism and business opportunities at Arbroath’s West Links and across Angus.
“We have previously held constructive discussions about the miniature railway and are happy to continue these with Mr Kerr.
“We know the West Links is a popular destination for tourists and residents and it has a very exciting and positive future ahead of it.
“The links has a first class play area and has benefited from recent investment from partners in leisure facilities, as well as there being proposals for a new hotel and restaurant in the area.”
Welcoming the move, John Kerr urged locals to get behind the attraction.
He said: “I have not had any communication from Kirstene Hair but it sounds good.
“We are hoping to put a meeting together to discuss this extension to see where things stand, but implementing it is another story.
“Opening up any dialogue has got to be helpful and is a positive move.”