It was the childhood playground that famously fired the imagination of JM Barrie to create Peter Pan.
Now the creators of a new children’s literature and storytelling attraction at the Georgian house and gardens credited with inspiring the fairytale have revealed the “real Tinker Bell” is about to go on display there.
A bell bought by Barrie which featured in the original stage incarnation of Peter Pan will have pride of place when Moat Brae House in Dumfries is reborn in the spring.
Barrie, who spent five teenage years living in Dumfries, later credited the “enchanted land” around the property as an inspiration for Peter Pan, which was first staged in 1904, seven years before Barrie adapted the story into a book.
The Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust, which has raised £5.8 million for the restoration of the building and grounds, has secured a loan of one of two bells used in the production, along with a spotlight, to signal Tinker Bell’s appearance.
The tiny Swiss bell was given to Elias Elias, foreman and scene-changer at the Duke of York Theatre in London and kept for more than a century by his family.
A spokesman for the trust said: “Barrie had bought two bells for the purpose on a trip to Switzerland. Though tiny, they had a clear and distinctive sound that could be heard in every part of the theatre.
“A descendent of Elias Elias was so interested when she discovered that the house where Peter Pan began was being restored that she offered to loan it to Moat Brae for public display. Visitors will be transported back to the earliest days of Peter Pan, with the chance to see the bell and hear recordings of it ringing.”
Campaigners halted the planned demolition of Moat Brae, which fell into disrepair in the 1990s, nearly a decade ago with the aim of seeing it turned into a Peter Pan-inspired attraction. It is hoped the new National Centre for Children’s Literature and Storytelling will attract 45,000 visits a year generate £1.3 million for the local economy.
Simon Davidson, director of the centre, said: “It’s quite magical to have the original Tinker Bell here. It’s a very special piece of literary and theatrical history. I’m sure people will be charmed to see and hear the actual bell which JM Barrie chose to represent a character who came to be loved by generations of children all across the world.”
Actress Joanna Lumley, patron of the trust, said: “It’s wonderful to see the way Moat Brae being brought back to life and given a new future that will make it a place of fun and inspiration.”