Dunkeld museum opens in refurbished public toilet

The Cross in Dunkeld, home of the museum converted from a public toilet. Picture: WikimediaCommons
The Cross in Dunkeld, home of the museum converted from a public toilet. Picture: WikimediaCommons
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SCOTLAND’S quirkiest museum venue was officially opened today - in a converted public loo.

The derelict public conveniences in the heart of the historic cathedral town of Dunkeld have been completely transformed to house the extensive archive of the Dunkeld Cathedral Chapter House Trust.

And the move to the disused toilets has allowed the trust to put their historic records on public display on a permanent basis for the first time.

The archive charts the history of the cathedral, the burgh and the regimental records of the Scottish Horse, a yeomanry regiment of the British Territorial Army from 1902 to 1956 which was once based in the Perthshire town.

The archive was originally collected by a group of volunteers in 19 years ago and, until the move to the converted public toilets, had been stored in a small room above the Chapter House in the cathedral. The archive could only be accessed up a narrow spiral staircase of 45 hazardous steps.

Work to transform the loos into a new home for the archive began last summer after the trust bought the redundant conveniences from the council for £3,000 and raised an estimated £175,000 to fund the restoration scheme.

Earlier this year the massive archive was transferred to the old toilets in the town’s main square, The Cross, close to the ancient cathedral. Rather than being removed via the spiral staircase, the archives were taken from the cathedral tower via a cherry picker.

Joan Brookes, a spokeswoman for the trust, explained: “The archive was started by a group of local residents in 1994 and has been housed in one of the towers of the Cathedral up 45 stone stairs in a rather cold and damp room. With the use of dehumidifiers and heaters it managed to be reasonable in the summer but the winter months could be rather difficult, sitting in -1C trying to work with cold hands and feet was no fun.”

The toilets were converted after the trust received financial supprt from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Rural Tayside Leader Fund , the Gannochy Trust, the Griffin Wind Farm Community Fund and various local charities.

The conversion includes a new glass frontage, an exhibition space, a new archive store and a restoration room at the rear of the building.