The Tolbooth and Nelson’s Tower have been visited by more people than ever before for 2019, the Forres Heritage Trust is pleased to report.
Bookings for using the Tolbooth which has many rooms which can be hired for events have also increased.
Whilst the main tourist season is now finished, the Trust is already thinking ahead to what it can do to improve next season.
This year, Nelson’s Tower which sits on Cluny Hill above Grant Park saw over 3302 visitors, an increase from 3025 last year. It was only beaten in 2011, the year the Heritage Trust took over the running of the monument which at the time welcomed 3345 visitors.
Recently, a photographic showcase of days gone by which was held in the Tolbooth saw the best ever footfall too and the recent Moray Doors Open Day which showcased a new police office and cells project welcomed 257 visitors.
George Alexander, chairman of the Trust said: “This has been a tremendous season for the two buildings that the Forres Heritage Trust looks after. It only goes to show that there is an appetite for people to want to learn about our region’s rich history and that Moray itself is a sought-after tourist destination. Forres has so much to offer and we are pleased that the Trust plays a part in that.
“Since the Trust has been responsible for Nelson’s Tower, we have welcomed visitors from over 50 countries including Australia, France, Germany, Slovakia, USA, Brazil, Japan, China, India, Dubai, and Pakistan to name but a few. It is great that we are attracting people from near and far.”
He added: “Seeing these increased figures also justifies all the hard work and the time that our volunteers give up ensuring the smooth operation of the two buildings. The Tolbooth has undergone extensive renovations and whilst Doors Open Day gave people a first look at the police office and cells project, we do plan to have a proper launch of what we hope will become a firm attraction in its own right.”
He added: “The renovation, particularly of the court room also means that the Tolbooth is a much more beautiful space, modern but in keeping with its history. We are getting more calls about hiring it and have even had our first wedding enquiry.”
The Trust is run by a core group of 12 Trustees who are now working on plans for 2020.
“We will have our ever-popular Winter Talks which take place in the first three months of the year,” explained George, “these are always sell-out events. We also hope to take part in the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival again. We held a whisky nosing and tasting this year and that was very successful, and we may well run our free family fun day up at the Tower as well.”
The Trust relies solely on donations and grants and although seeing more visitors to the buildings is welcomed it has also meant an increase in donations too.
“Over the last year we have carried out thousands of pounds worth of work at the Tolbooth but that money has to come from somewhere. What has been great, is that more visitors have led to more donations, however, that just means that we have to keep at the top of our game to ensure that people return and spread the word about what we have to offer.”