Boost for £20m photo centre bid at Royal High

THE campaign for a £20 million national photography centre in the old Royal High School has been boosted after rival plans for a military museum on the site were abandoned.

A consortium looking to create a "story of Scotland" has decided against moving ahead with its Calton Hill plans and is instead looking at other possible sites in the city that could potentially house the facility.

That clears the way for the Sean Connery-backed Hill Adamson photography centre campaign to push forward its plans to move into the historic site.

It is in the process of drawing up a business plan and submitting an application for lottery funding.

The Scottish Executive today also gave the campaign a boost by confirming that it wants to see the historic A-listed building used.

Dr Norman Reid, the keeper of St Andrews University's photographic collection, was one of four appointments to the Hill Adamson board last month.

He said there was a mood of confidence among the reconfigured board about the bid.

"I'm hopeful that we are making significant progress with the preparation of the bid," he said. "I would love to see the centre becoming a reality and I am sure that can happen.

"It's a vitally important development that should happen in Scotland."

Referring to the Hill Adamson bid, a Scottish Executive spokesman said: "Ministers are expected to receive advice on the project over the summer as part of their consideration of this year's strategic spending review.

"The A-listed former Royal High School is one of Edinburgh's most important buildings.

"Ministers support the re-use of historic buildings to give them a sustainable long-term future that recognises the building's significance and qualities."

The military museum plan was dropped after it emerged the annual running costs of the museum in that site would top 1 million.

George Robinson, secretary of city history group the One O'Clock Gun Association, who heads the military museum consortium, believes the plan can be a success in another location.

The group has set its sights on creating the museum in Leith and intends to analyse various possible sites there before the consortium draws up a feasibility study.

Mr Robinson said: "It would be fantastic to have the [Royal High School] building used again but it looks like the photography centre are moving well on it and we don't want to wait to see if that doesn't go through. They're in the driving seat and we can't wait to see how it works for them, and we wish them good luck.

"We're looking at Leith now because it has a terrific amount of space and they are keen on getting a museum there as well. This would tell the military story of Scotland.

"We'll start off with the story of the Scots Army before the British Army existed, and look at how it joined up with them in 1707, and take the story of all the regiments through to the present day.

"It won't be like any other museum in Scotland and I think it would be a major asset for the country."

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