Is there enough fight to save Annet House?

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It has helped to tell the story of Linlithgow, offered peace and tranquillity in the garden and has been the home of Scotty from Star Trek, but Annet House which is home to all the artefacts and memories will be sold.

With Linlithgow Heritage Trust fundraising to pay to move its museum to the new partnership centre Tam Dalyell House towards the end of next year, West Lothian Council is looking to sell off this assets along with others which are deemed surplus to requirements to bridge a £73 million budget gap it has over the next five years.

The old police station, the library, public toilets and services at The Vennel and Annet House are all buildings which fit in this bracket.

But where children play in the maze, tourists visited and residents learned more about the town they live in, there is hope that the house and garden can still be used by the community.

Annet House was built in 1787 by George Bartholemew, a local merchant, and switched various hands before becoming the property of Peter Miller, a lawyer from South Queensferry who gave the house its name in 1867. He had been born of farming stock at Annet Farm nearby Doune in Perthshire.

It was sold to West Lothian County Council in 1929 and for a time it was used as a police HQ for the county, then during World War II it became a Civil Defence HQ. After the war it was used as a community centre most notably housing the town library. It wasn’t until 1991 that the trust was established to create the museum.

An online petition was launched last month asking the council not to sell the Georgian townhouse and its gardens by resident Claire Rainey.

At the Linlithgow and Linlithgow Bridge Community Council meeting last week a passionate plea was heard from resident Helen Greig over why it should be kept in the community’s hands.

She said: “The council is selling off beautiful, historic buildings that are important to the town without consulting us.

“It’s got a four-tier garden which is of real historical value and the volunteers’ hard work and effort in the garden have made it look great.

“It’s a proper townhouse and could be restored and be kept within the community. I want the council to know that there are people in its constituency who are not happy with them making decisions of this nature without consulting us.”

Another resident added: “There isn’t a lot of green space in the town. I know we have The Peel but it’s a lovely private space and I would love to see it retained. I know it’s difficult because the garden and the house are being sold together.”

However, with the partnership centre set to open and funding from any sale of the house going towards the centre plus recent investment in the Burgh Halls, is another community space needed?

It would require a lot of work to the house and the access issues would have to be overcome – a major factor behind Linlithgow Heritage Trust moving in the first place and would prove a real challenge to anyone wanting to use it as a community space.

That was one point put forward at the meeting by another resident.

He said: “The one thing you don’t want is the house falling into rack and ruin like other things have done.

“I would rather sell it privately, keep the garden and have it as a nice building as part of the town. We’ve now got the new partnership centre, we’ve got the Burgh Halls these have all got to make pay as well.

“There’s no point in having it just for the sake of having it. You’ve got to have a clear idea for what you want it for.”

Another resident said it should have an education element to it, the garden could provide mental health benefits and could work as rehabilitation place for those in recovery.

A meeting is being planned by those keen to save it to figure out their next move, but only time will tell whether there is enough demand to save the house which has been part of Linlithgow’s history for 150 years.