Catrine funding flooding in
Funding is flooding in for the restoration of Catrine's 200 year old water system which once powered a cotton mill complex.
Hot on the heels of a £660,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Ayrshire LEADER has just awarded funding of £164,440 towards the restoration of Catrine's unique renewable power system. The system, which dates from 1787 and was constructed by landowner Claud Alexander and textiles entrepreneur David Dale, consists of a weir, five reservoirs - know as the Voes, a sluice gate, a fish pass and a 450m long tunnel. It was state-of-the-art at the time, and is now designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
Catrine Community Trust, with support from East Ayrshire Council, has been battling to save the system which is deteriorating to a critical level. Sections of the weir have partially collapsed and are in danger of being washed down the river. These funding announcements complete the major funding package which will conserve the weir, and allow the upgrading of a redundant chapel to create a new Community Education and Visitor Interpretation Centre and a new Community Enterprise Centre based in an adjoining Victorian villa.
Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of the Council said: "The Catrine water system is an incredibly important historical feature which, thanks to this funding, is being conserved for future generations. In addition to conserving the system, the project will also protect the River Ayr which has a rich biodiversity including otters and migratory salmon. The poor condition of the fish pass and the deterioration of the Voes are having a detrimental effect on our natural heritage but by restoring the Voes we will be able to continue to attract walkers, fishermen and bird watchers to our wonderful countryside."
Stuart Nelson, Chair of Catrine Community Trust said: "The Trust is absolutely over the moon that we have all but completed the funding package to enable conservation works to begin next year. Catrine has big problems so big solutions have been needed. This will really put Catrine on the map. To people that 'ken it well' Catrine may seem like an unlikely visitor destination for tourists but the town is steeped in history and has rich stories to tell. When the education centre opens and the hydro is producing electricity they will come and this will help kickstart the regeneration of this beautiful little town."
Big Lottery is funding environmental improvements around the nature reserve centred on Catrine Voes and a generous grant from Cumnock & Doon Valley Minerals Trust has enabled the signing of a 99 year lease on the hydro infrastructure that was not included with the remainder of the historic water system.
The 1950s hydro scheme will be restored using private finance and the resultant income will be used to maintain the water system and sustain the visitor centre. It will be an important feature of Catrine Community Powerdown, a carbon footprint reduction programme which has over the last two years helped produce massive savings of 1536 tonnes of CO2 through awareness events and working with the local schools in the Catrine community.
This article appeared in Cumnock Chronicle 07 Dec 11