Global appeal to save Gordon Highlanders Museum in Aberdeen

7th Battalion of Gordon Highlander leave the North East for war service in 1914. PIC: Gordon Highlanders Museum.
7th Battalion of Gordon Highlander leave the North East for war service in 1914. PIC: Gordon Highlanders Museum.
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A global appeal has been launched to save the Gordon Highlanders Museum, which celebrates and records the history of the esteemed Scottish regiment, from closure.

The museum, in Aberdeen, is facing a funding crisis following the downturn in the oil and gas industry and the loss of funding from the Ministry of Defence.

Three Gordon Highlanders in their regimental kilts in 1914. PIC: Gordon Highlanders Museum.

Three Gordon Highlanders in their regimental kilts in 1914. PIC: Gordon Highlanders Museum.

Bryan Snelling, chief executive of the museum, said income had dropped around 60 per cent over the past three years largely due to a cut in hospitality bookings and corporate events.

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Mr Snelling said a call had gone out to Clan Gordon USA to support the campaign.

Recruits were raised by Clan Gordon in the 18th Century with soldiers latterly drawn from the clan’s traditional heartlands,

Pipers from the 6th Battalion of the Gordon Highlanders play at the Colosseum in Rome in June 1944. PIC: Gordon Highlanders Museum.

Pipers from the 6th Battalion of the Gordon Highlanders play at the Colosseum in Rome in June 1944. PIC: Gordon Highlanders Museum.

Backers are also being sought in South Africa and Canada where the regiment has several military alliances.

In addition, a fresh call has been put out to the North East business community to help protect the asset.

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Mr Snelling said: “We have had some difficult during the oil and gas downturn in Aberdeen given our largest area of income was from corporate functions and hospitality. We have take a bit of a hit, similar to many places in Aberdeen.

The Gordon Highlander Museum in Aberdeen. PIC: Contributed.

The Gordon Highlander Museum in Aberdeen. PIC: Contributed.

“We are asking for some help to see us through. If we don’t do anything, our finances will continue to be an issue. We are certainly not looking at imminent closure but if we continue as we are things are not going to get any better.”

Mr Snelling said the museum needed to generate at least £100,000 a year for the next three years to function.

He said he hoped people in the north east - as well as further afield - would support its future.

Mr Snelling added: “You don’t have to scratch the surface very far in the North East to find a family who had a member in the Gordon Highlanders.

“The Gordon Highlanders is the regiment of the North East of Scotland and it was in existence for 200 years. The history of the North East of Scotland is very much intertwined with the history of the Gordon Highlanders.

“The museum keeps this link to the past alive and allows us to insure that this history is remembered and that those who made the sacrifice are remembered.”

“But the Gordon Highlanders are very much followed worldwide and has lots of sister regiments.”

They include the 48th Highlanders of Canada, The Toronto Scottish Regiment, the 5th and 6th Batallions of the Royal Victoria Regiment in Australia and the Cape Town Highlanders.

The Gordon Highlanders, which merged with the Queen’s Own Highlanders (Seaforth and Camerons) to form the Highlanders (Seaforth, Gordons and Camerons) in 1994, was described as the “finest regiment in the world” by Winston Churchill who, as a young reporter, witnessed them in action at the Battle of Doornkop in May 1900.

During World War One, the Regiment raised a total of 21 battalions and was awarded 57 battle honours, 4 Victoria Crosses and lost 8,870 men.

Eight battalions fought during World War Two with men fighting in Normandy, North Africa, Italy and Singapore.

The 2nd battalion suffered more casualties as Prisoners of War in Japanese captivity than they did during the fighting on Singapore Island and mainland Malaysia.

Its soldiers also served in both Iraq wars. Gordon Highlanders first fought in Afghanistan in 1878 during the 2nd Afghan War and more recently served in 2008 as the 4th Battalion of the The Royal Regiment of Scotland, the modern embodiment of the Gordon Highlanders.

Mr Snelling said the Gordon Highlanders Museum must have a future for the regimental family as well as the younger generation.

He added: “Without assistance, all that we have achieved, impressive though it is, will be in jeopardy.”