The brakes have been put on plans by Dundee Museum of Transport to renovate and move into the former Maryfield Tram Depot after a seven-figure grant application was rejected.
The Heritage Lottery Fund rejected a bid by the museum’s board for a £2.4 million grant to refurbish the depot and make a new home for the museum, which has been based at Market Mews in Market Street since 2010.
The museum acquired the tram depot in 2014 and work began on the forecourt in May.
Chairman John Letford said the museum’s board has a responsibility to make the depot safe but said its redevelopment is now firmly on “the back burner”.
A planning application has been submitted to Dundee City Council seeking to change the use of the existing premises to a transport museum with associated parking.
Former chairman Jimmy McDonnell said he had been ousted from the charity’s board by a “coup d’etat” and the museum, which he founded, has lost sight of its original goal of occupying the former tram depot.
Mr McDonnell said: “We were formed eight years ago to make the tram depot a transport museum.
“Along the way we have raised more than £300,000 towards that. But now there are new trustees and I began being outvoted on a lot of things.
“If I said ‘up’ they would say ‘down’ and if I said ‘left’ they would say ‘right’. It was basically a coup d’etat so I chose to stand down.”
Mr McDonnell said he believes the tram depot will now fall into ruin.
BLACK FRIDAY OFFER: Two years of unlimited access to The Courier Digital — at better than half price!
“The trustees were informed that the building is in a worse state now than ever before. If there is heavy snow the roof will come in.
“They were advised to get scaffolding up and do something to protect the building but they haven’t done anything. It’s a small clique that is running things.”
Mr Letford, who was Lord Provost of Dundee between 2001 and 2012, said the charity’s priority is to make the former depot safe but plans to convert it to a museum are on hold.
He said: “We have been unsuccessful in our funding application and are looking at the whys and wherefores of that.
“It was for £2.4 million – I wasn’t involved in the application although the previous chairman was.
“We are in discussions with the HLF to see what the problems are. But we just have to ensure the building is safe.”
Mr Letford said: “There are some challenges but we will meet them and the museum is not in danger, although Maryfield is now on the back burner.”
Museum manager Samantha Walker later issued a statement, which said the museum was “disappointed” to have missed out on funding and still hopes to redevelop the Maryfield depot at some point in the future.
She added: “The Trustees are currently working with existing funders and contractors to make the former Maryfield Tram Depot safe. No scaffolding or security measures were put in place over the last four years and this is something the board are urgently trying to remedy.
“This year we were advised by two of the major funders that we had approached that they were not willing to fund the project in its current form. So, rather than continually approach them with the same project, we are reviewing our position and are seeking the views of members, volunteers and the local community in developing new plans.
“Maryfield will be part of these plans as it is still a property owned by Dundee Museum of Transport.”