Hopes that map’s rivers will once again flow lie with Historic Scotland

Maczek Map Peebles.
Maczek Map Peebles.

MOVES are underway to get the massive three-dimensional relief map of Scotland – created by Polish students in the 1970s in the grounds of a Borders hotel – listed before the establishment is sold to new owners.

Conceived by Polish military commander, General Stanislaw Maczek and his wartime companions as a permanent three-dimensional reminder of their part in Scotland’s defence and of the country’s wartime hospitality to Polish forces engaged in the fight against Hitler’s Third Reich, the map is in the grounds of the Barony Castle Hotel at Eddleston.

During the war, the hotel was used as a headquarters and later a staff training college for the exiled Polish forces. It was set in a sea of real water and fitted with water springs to allow the rivers to actually flow.

Four years ago, a committee was set up to raise funds to restore the map to its former glory. However, it is finding it difficult given the uncertainty over the future of the hotel, which is currently for sale at just under £2million.

It was just last year that there was good news when the Heritage Lottery Fund offered the restoration committee a starting grant of £20,000, with a requirement to find equivalent matched funding from another source.

However, a requirement of the grant terms is that a no-break lease securing public access to the map is agreed with the owners of the hotel.

Negotiations with owners, De Vere, had been progressing slowly and then in December, it was discovered that the hotel was being offered for sale.

In the latest project newsletter, Keith Burns, secretary of the Mapa Scotland Steering Committee, told supporters that it would no longer be possible to obtain a no-break lease from De Vere, because it could be a deterrent to a potential buyer.

“We are not aware of any prospective buyers. However, it means that we must change our priority to protecting the map against any risks that a new owner might present,” wrote Mr Burns.

“To that end, in January we submitted a formal application to Historic Scotland to give the map listed status. That application is now in process and has been received sympathetically, with confirmation that it is eligible as an important heritage site.

“We hope to be able to report more progress with listed status at our forthcoming AGM.”

Mr Burns said that, until a buyer is found for the hotel, no further progress can be made over a no-break lease. “We can only hope that the new owner is sympathetic to our cause,” he added.

The committee’s 2012 AGM will be held at Barony Castle, at 2pm on Sunday, April 15.