Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Archeolink to close two years after it closed

It’s a little over two years since I wrote about the closure of Archeolink, so I was slightly surprised to see a new item about the plug being pulled on the former attraction.

Then I realised that it was yet another crazy council related story, this time Aberdeen City Council.

I’m beginning to see why some spend their life posting derogatory stories about councils… there seems to be a ready source of material for the lazy writer from this source.

Looking back at my original item on Archeolink, it looked as if the centre, described as “lurching from one financial crisis to another” after being opened in something of a fanfare attended by Tony Robinson of Time Team fame, had been closed, and then failed to attract any interest by anyone willing to take it over. I thought that was the end of it.

Archaeolink was billed as a Prehistory Park where visitors were invited to Travel 10,000 years in one day from the Mesolithic to a Roman Marching Camp, aimed at charting the North east’s Stone Age, Pettish and Roman past. It featured a reconstructed Iron Age farm and a walk to the remains of an Iron Age enclosure and hut circle

I’m forced to make some guesses here, as this isn’t anything like the businesses I have been involved with, but while a normal owner would presumably have wanted, or been forced, to divest themselves of the costs and responsibilities of owning the dead site, Aberdeen City Council has been sitting on it since the place closed. In the midst of the supposed recession, I have to assume the land and any assets that were on it have done anything but appreciate. So there will be two years of depreciation – a figure that can only be guessed at.

I do know the council poured £1.5 million of taxpayers’ money into in 2005, as it was failing to attract anything like the visitor numbers it was supposed to.

There also the cost of ownership:

Stephen Archer, the council’s Director of Infrastructure Services, states in a report to the area committee that the former tourist attraction is still costing the council in the region of £30,000 a year in rates, insurance, repairs and security costs.

Mr Archer added:

Archaeolink opened in 1997 as part of an initiative to enhance tourism in Aberdeenshire. The then council contributed in excess of £2million to the project and this was matched by European Commission funding.

The subjects were leased to a trust whose purpose was to advance the education of the public in archaeological, prehistoric or historical objects. From the outset, visitor numbers never met projections and, consequently, since opening the council has supported the project with funding of £1.96million. In February, 2011, Aberdeenshire Council agreed to reduce funding for the visitors attraction budget and subsequently the facility closed.

If it were not for the obvious addition of staff wages and other running costs, the council might almost have been better keeping the place open. They might have made some money instead of pouring more into the pit, and it might even have magically turned itself around and risen from its own ashes.

Or not.

Via Aberdeenshire Council to pull plug on Archaeolink – Top stories – Scotsman.com

Forgetting the council, it’s still a shame to see another museum (if we use the term generally) being lost completely.

There’s seldom news of a new museum opening successfully, and more often than not, we notice and report of attempts and intentions to establish such a facility, only for it to collapse after year or two, or for it never to be heard of again.

Iron age round house at Archeolink by London looks, on Flickr

Iron age round house at Archeolink by London looks, on Flickr

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May 31, 2013 - Posted by | Civilian | , , ,

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