Museums and heritage sites count 'devastating' cost of Storm Arwen - Museums Association

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Museums and heritage sites count ‘devastating’ cost of Storm Arwen

National Trust properties and Fraserburgh Heritage Centre among worst hit by last week’s storm
Disaster Planning Weather
Profile image for Geraldine Kendall Adams
Geraldine Kendall Adams
Damage at National Trust Cragside
Damage at National Trust Cragside National Trust Images

Museums and heritage sites are surveying the damage caused by Storm Arwen, which wreaked havoc across Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the north of England last weekend. 

Fraserburgh Heritage Centre, a volunteer-run visitor attraction near Aberdeen, had its entire roof torn off by gale force winds during the storm and was forced to appeal for tarpaulin to keep its collections safe from the elements. The local press has reported that the centre’s displays of social history had a “remarkable escape” from the storm – but volunteers have not yet been able to assess the full extent of the damage.

A video by the Press and Journal revealing the extent of storm damage to Fraserburgh Heritage Centre

The secretary of Fraserburgh Heritage Society, Chris Reid, told Museums Journal that volunteers will likely have to “start from scratch” on the exhibition after a new roof is installed.

“The entire roof is off and most of the exhibition area is exposed to the elements,” she said. “At the moment, we are in limbo till a structural engineer gives clearance for us to enter the building and assess the damage. It will probably be our intention to remove as many items as can be moved and store until we see what happens.”


Reid said the local community had rallied round with offers of help. “We are fortunate to have had the promise of support in many forms of help from the community and have storage and packing organised for when we eventually can move,” she said. 

The nearby Museum of Scottish Lighthouses was also reportedly damaged by the storm. 

The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) has also reported a devastating impact at many of its sites, including the “distressing” loss of around n800 seal pups at St Abb’s Head nature reserve in Eyemouth in the Scottish Borders. 

NTS said: “Our eight properties in the north east of the country were particularly badly impacted, taking the brunt of the storm. All eight sites lost power and water, and there are trees down across the region, with the loss at some properties being measured in the hundreds. In turn, the fallen trees have caused damage to bridges and buildings.”

Meanwhile, the National Trust is appealing for donations after losing hundreds of “irreplaceable” trees at its properties in England and Wales, including Cragside in Northumberland and Bodnant Garden in Conwy, Wales.

The trust said: “Many of the UK’s most precious and unique trees have been damaged by Storm Arwen as its gale force winds brought down thousands of trees across the north of England and Wales. The full extent of the damage is still being assessed but you can help the woodlands in our care now.”


Andy Jasper, head of gardens and parklands at the National Trust, said: “The extent of the damage is still unfolding. It’s a huge blow to British heritage.

“With it being National Tree Week we had expected to be celebrating the extraordinary trees in our care – not witnessing the scale of destruction we have. But this week has taken on a new significance for us, and we’re asking our supporters to donate, if they can, to help us restore the places affected.

“Our gardens and landscapes will take months to clear up and years, even decades, to fully restore.”

Trees were uprooted at many other heritage sites, including Woodhorn Museum in Northumberland, which has been closed all week for a major clean-up operation. 

The museum has said that 70 trees were felled by the storm, with some left blocking its entrance driveway. It plans to reopen on 4 December. 

The storm hit as many venues were preparing to launch their crucial Christmas programmes, with some racing to prevent events this weekend being cancelled. 

Paxton House in Berwick-upon-Tweed on the Scottish borders was forced to close all week after Storm Arwen left a “trail of destruction” across the site, but says it is ready to reopen this weekend for its annual Christmas Cracker craft fair.

Comments (1)

  1. Anne da Costa says:

    Masks should be worn during Museum visits. Not just in their shops imo.

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