Plans are now in progress to have the £1.4 million Jim Clark Museum upgrade completed by the 50th anniversary of the world champion racing driver’s death in April 2018.
Conscious that motor racing enthusiasts will be focusing on the April 2018 date and aware of the museum’s important role in attracting visitors to the area, to meet this timetable Scottish Borders Council’s exeuctive has agreed to re-arrange their capital budget to free up money in the 2017-2018 financial year.
The council has committed £620,000 to the project and the bulk of that had been allocated from the 2018-19 capital budget, but they agreed to the construction programme being accelerated a year.
Working with the Jim Clark Trust, a Heritage Lottery Fund application for £700,000 will be submitted next week, and the council and trust will work together on a fund raising programme for the remaining £300,000 to cover refurbishment costs and revenue costs to cover a four year programme up to 2021.
They should know by March next year if the Heritage Lottery application has been successful and will start immediately on the development phase (putting all the necessary planning and agreements in place) scheduled to be completed by October 2016.
Construction work would be expected to be underway by September 2017, the museum fit-out starting in March 2018 and the extended and refurbished museum open for business by April/May 2018.
The proposals include integrating the large adjacent garage into the new museum as a display area for cars, developing a retail area, an audio visual area, meeting space and staff accommodation.
The current Jim Clark Room, run by Scottish Borders Council, is a 4 star Visit Scotland visitor attraction, that gets 3,500 visitors a year and generates £9,600 of income, the highest of any of the council’s museums.
Ambitions for the new Jim Clark Museum are high and the trust believe that the target of 11,000 visitors a year is achievable.
Reporting to the council’s executive this week, cultural services manager, Ian Brown, said: “The 2015 Jim Clark weekend organised by Classic Team Lotus and the Jim Clark Memorial Room Trust attracted more than 6000 visitors to Duns over a two day period with some of these visitors coming from outside the UK.
“Part of the work that will be undertaken in the development phase will be to plan how the project partners can build on the success of the Jim Clark weekend and create an exhibitions and events programme to attract the required number of visitors.”
Following the death of Jim Clark, who was Formula 1 world champion in 1963 and 1965, in an accident at Hockenheim, Germany in 1968 his parents donated a unique collection of his trophies to Duns Town Council who funded the establishment of the Jim Clark Memorial Room in the town.
In 1978 his parents established the Jim Clark Memorial Room Trust and a re-fit and re-display of collection was re-opened by Sir Jackie Stewart in 1993.
Jackie Stewart was a close friend of Jim Clark and when he was in Duns for the Jim Clark weekend in May this year he said: “He was a great ambassador for Scotland, he’s still remembered with great love and affection around the world. The name of Jim Clark will never die.”
Councillor Frances Renton agrees with this adding: “The Jim Clark name is known around the world.
“The new museum will have cars and other materials that we couldn’t possibly have at the moment.
“The 50th anniversary of Jim Clark’s death will be an important time for Duns as a whole, you just need to look at how many people (6000) came to the town for the Jim Clark weekend this year. It’s a significant date and I was pleased the executive approved the report.”