A £100,000 appeal to help protect Burns Cottage in Alloway was launched by the National Trust For Scotland on the anniversary of Robert Burns’ birthday, Friday, January 25.
Burns was born in the cottage 260 years ago but centuries of Scottish winters have taken their toll on the dwelling built by Robert’s father Willian Burnes in 1757. The roof, walls and chimney are all now in desperate need of specialist attention.
Caroline Smith, operations manager at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum said: “At the back of the cottage, the traditional thatched roof has developed significant tears and has worn away.
“Towards the front, moss is also beginning to grow, collecting rainwater and rotting the thatch underneath. The north-west gable is starting to crack, letting the wind and rain in and damaging the interior plasterwork.”
Robert Burns, Scotland’s national bard, was born in the cottage in 1759. Just five years after his death, a small group of his friends hosted the very first Burns Supper in 1801, a tradition that is enjoyed the world over to this day.
Burns Cottage has been cared for by the National Trust for Scotland since 2008, but they are now seeking the help of Burns’ lovers to ensure the cottage remains an inspiring place to visit.
They need to raise £100,000 to save Burns Cottage. By giving just £15, donors can help fix the north-west wall; £35 will help restore a patch of thatch; and £60 will limewash a section of the walls.
Caroline continued: “Plans are in place to repair the wall at the end of the cottage, cracks along the walls and windows will be filled, the roof re-thatched and the outer walls re-limewashed, weatherproofing the cottage and protecting it for the future.
“Everything we do at the museum is for the love of Scotland. We’re all hugely passionate about Robert Burns and sharing the stories of his life and work, but we’re now asking for help to protect the legacy of Ayrshire’s most famous son.”
In the 19th century the cottage was a private residence for rent and an alehouse before being restored by the Alloway Burns Monument Trust in 1881.
Visitors can see where Burns and his family lived, side by side with their farm animals, and where Burns got his earliest schooling. The walls of the cottage have been daubed with fragments of his verse and a selection of Scots words, such as ‘hawkie’ and ‘crambo-jingle.’