In response to Mr Mann’s kind invitation, I have visited both Irvine and Dumbarton many times over the past few years, none more recently than last year when Mr Mann in person, most courteously and diligently conducted me on an interesting tour of the re-built former Clyde Engine Shed and its fascinating collection of artefacts.
This did not dissuade me from my argument that this is not a national museum of the style and location as in other maritime countries.
It has never been my intention to criticise any one museum. That would deflect the argument. However, the government may defend itself by its huge expenditure on Irvine, including the recent re-roofing at a cost of more than £1 million to protect the taxpayers’ investment.
Furthermore, in 2014 Museums Galleries Scotland awarded £12,500 for an exhibition on Clyde shipbuilding 1914-1918. Other community museums are not so favoured.
In conclusion, a vital statistic is annual visitor footfall numbers. At Irvine this is 12,500, of whom more than 50 per cent originate within the west of Scotland.
I am reliably informed that the relevant comparisons are the Aberdeen Maritime Museum, which has in excess of 70,000 per year, and the Scottish Fisheries Museum, Anstruther, which has almost 100,000 visitors each year.
(Prof) Gordon S Milne OBE