The Anstruther Improvements Association (AIA) is a local community charity, which aims to build a thriving and resilient community, improving Anstruther for all.
We run social, artistic, cultural and educational events and activities, manage some of the floral displays in Anstruther and provide small grants to local initiatives. In 2014 the AIA secured ownership of the former Wester Town and Hew Scott Halls from Fife Council and the Church of Scotland. Renamed the Dreel Halls, the spaces now host a wide range of community activities, based on the strengths and needs of the community. In 2016 the AIA launched the Anster Cinema, a community cinema in the Lower Hall that screens popular films at least once a month.
The AIA is always looking for opportunities to make a difference and for ways to make Dreel Halls more relevant to the lives of people in Anstruther.
Now that the AIA has been running Dreel Halls as a community space for a number of years, we wish to carry out a significant internal upgrade of the building to ensure it is fit for purpose for all future needs, fully accessible to all and fit for the 21st century. Below is an outline of the proposed building alterations by the architects.
Dreel Hall Improvements
In 2013 the outside of the former Wester Kirk, St. Nicholas Tower and Wester Town Hall were repaired in a year of sustained work delivered by Fife Historic Buildings Trust as part of the Townscape Heritage Initiative, funded by The Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Scotland.
Those repairs transformed the dangerously dilapidated exterior fabric into a sound safe shell that reveals more of its historic character in an enhanced landscape setting. However these repairs were only to the outside of the building and the inside remains dilapidated, with outdated services, poor disabled access and a low standard of energy efficiency.
The low quality of the inside of the buildings means they cannot be used efficiently or easily by the wide range of groups that would like to use the halls, and they are also expensive and time consuming to maintain. In 2013 the AIA received funding to develop plans for the interior. Through a series of community stakeholder workshops, a programme of improvements was designed to bring the Halls up-to-date as a thriving base for community and arts activities. The inside of the buildings will be transformed, while retaining the homespun character of the AIA and safeguarding the special historic interiors in the Tower and Town Hall meeting room.
Key improvements include:
- The main hall will have its original high ceiling revealed, with new insulation, ventilation, heating and lighting to create a great flexible performance space.
- The entrance vault will have an old archway revealed and new entrance doors.
- The existing kitchen and store will be remodelled to form a larger flexible space, with views across the graveyard to the harbour.
- A small new extension to provide a lift and disabled toilet so that people with disabilities can use all of the spaces, as well as a bin store and plant room.
- A new office / green room will be placed inside one of the tower spaces.
The quality of the interior work will reflect that already completed on the outside and transform Dreel Halls into a thriving resource for its community, sustaining it through the 21st century, while respecting its historic past.
The development project was part financed by the Scottish Government and the European Community LEADER in Fife Programme 2007-2013. It is also part financed by Fife Council and Big Lottery Fund.