Listed Moat Brae House could be destroyed

URGENT: Moat Brae House, Dumfries – house and ‘enchanted land’ that provided the inspiration for Peter Pan faces the threat of demolition.

11 August 2009:

“…when the shades of night began to fall, certain young mathematicians shed their triangles, crept up walls and down trees, and became pirates in a sort of Odyssey that was long afterwards to become the play of Peter Pan. For our escapades in a certain Dumfries Garden, which is enchanted land to me, were certainly the genesis of that nefarious work.” (JM Barrie, 1924)

SAVE Britain’s Heritage has been informed that Loreburn Housing Association has intentions  to demolish the Category B listed Moat Brae House in Dumfries as early as next week, despite it being illegal and despite protests from local residents and heritage campaigners. The Housing Association, which receives funding from central government and works in partnership with the local council, appears confident that it will not be challenged should it proceed with demolition - one local newspaper has reported a spokesperson as saying the Association ‘would be astonished if the council were to move for prosecution’.

Moat Brae is a fine classical Georgian villa built in a striking red ashlar. Its importance is reflected by its Category B listing which was assigned to it in 1961 (roughly equivalent to Grade II). The house was built in 1823 for Robert Threshie of Barnbarroch, designed by the local architect Walter Newall in the Greek Revival style. Moat Brae retains a handsome Doric porch and other striking details including a bold consoled cornice. Its ornate and spacious staircase hall also remains, lit by a domed glass lantern, and incorporates a circular first floor gallery. The gardens are said to have been the inspiration for J M Barrie’s story Peter Pan.

Owing to neglect over the years the house and gardens are in a poor state and have suffered from vandalism. Nonetheless the original fabric of the building remains remarkably intact and the house is clearly capable of repair and rehabilitation.

A Building Preservation Trust, The Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust (For further information see:, has been established and is eager to take over the ownership of the building to restore it to its former glory and give it a new use. The Trust has employed specialist consultants who have confirmed that the building is not in danger of ‘imminent collapse’ – a false claim made by Loreburn Housing Association to facilitate its demolition.

SAVE fully supports the ambitions of the Trust. 

Update 17 August 2009:

It was announced on Friday 14th August that the Sheriff could not extend the Interim Interdict. However there is huge support for the Trust and the retention and reuse of the building and we hope that ongoing negotiations may come to a satisfactory end.

The Herald - 17th August 2009

Dumfries & Galloway Standard - 14th August 2009

Update 24 August 2009: A well attended meeting was held last Friday. The Trust has made an offer to buy Moat Brae for £50,000 and await a response. It could cost around £2 million to repair properly. Moat Brae could be the trigger for a heritage-led regeneration scheme for Dumfries which would be a great result.

Latest local news reports:

Herald Scotland - 24 August 2009 

The Herald - 24 August 2009

What can you do to help?

A Friends organisation has been set up for Moat Brae and Friends are now needed! So please do look at their website and sign up to support - the more the better.

Donations would also be hugely appreciated.

Email the trust:  or see their website for further info

Send letters of support to:

Luke Moloney or Roger Windsor, Trustee
Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust
24 Queen Street, Dumfries DG1 2JF


Send letters of opposition to:

Mr Ahsan Khan, Chief Executive Officer
Loreburn Housing Association
139 Irish Street, Dumfries, DG1 2QE