In November 2003, we finally achieved our most important and ambitious objective - the purchase of our own premises at 131 High Street, Burntisland, Fife.
The building, a former Ex-Service Social Club, had lain empty for almost four years and was in a very dilapidated condition. This was reflected in the price - which meant for us, that it was affordable! Thanks to the immense generosity and support of our members, we were able to purchase '131' outright.
The front of the property is 2-storeyed and dates from the 1970s, whilst the single-storey rear portion is much older. Altogether, the total floor area is about 5,000 sq ft which includes some cellarage.
The first 18 months were spent feverishly ripping out rotten timber and old fittings (the 4 year old sandwiches, ice cream and glasses of very stale ale were the first to go - along with 4 years' worth of junk mail!!) However, by 2005, sufficient remedial work had been done to allow us to create an exhibition space in the Club's former main Bar and admit the public for the first time. We even managed to construct a temporary Radio Room in a corner - but beyond the curtain, the rest of the building resembled a bomb site...
We removed the bench seating from the upstairs Lounge, gave it a lick of paint and provided coffee and biscuits for our visitors (included in the exhibition admission ticket!)
Things moved on and thanks to major funding from the Heritage Lottery and Burntisland Development Trust, we were able to complete a refurbishment programme that provides environmentally sensitive storage for the bulk of the Collection, as well as install new central heating and replacement windows throughout.
As the doors closed on our 2011 exhibition, we rolled up the 1970s, red, psychedelic lounge carpet (already sold on e-bay!), got cracking with paint pots, laid carpet tiles and bought new chairs, tables and curtains. It is starting to look good!
We're now concentrating our efforts on the reception area. The old carpet found its way to The Tip recently, (replaced by more of our bulk purchase of carpet tiles) and the stairs have been adapted to take a stair lift - necessary for disabled access.
Hard work? YES! Worthwhile? ABSOLUTELY!!
The fact that we own '131' outright and that we are creating a remarkable visitor experience, that is enjoyed by everyone, young and old alike - provides all the motivation we need!