New lease of life for old church building

May 25, 2015

New lease of life for old church building - East Lothian Courier

Musselburgh’s disused dolls museum at the former High Kirk of St Andrews has been sold to a local technology firm for more than £275,000. (May)

The purchase is expected to lead to major investment, as the so far unnamed Musselburgh company transforms the property into its new headquarters, with the retention of skilled roles and the creation of new jobs in the town.

One of the Honest Toun’s most recognisable landmarks, the B-listed church building, at the junction of High Street and Bridge Street, dates back to the 19th century.

It was sold by IME Property on behalf of the Alongi family, owners of the neighbouring Caprice Restaurant, who opened the church as a dolls museum in 2004.

The project was led by Tony Alongi, with a collection of dolls belonging to his daughter Elaine providing the centre-piece of the original display, housed in glass cabinets.

The vast collection later grew to include toys and teddy bears, as visitors donated their own items for display, and the facility was extended to include a cafe.

But the museum had been closed for more than four years when the property was put on the market in December.

It is reported to have sold for “well in excess” of the £275,000 asking price at a formal closing date in March.

Iain Mercer, managing director of IME Property, said: “The Alongi family entrusted us to dispose of this significant asset on their behalf and we are delighted with the outcome.

“It is a magnificent piece of 19th-century architecture which attracted interest from a raft of potential end users.

“To see it end up in the hands of an ambitious local company is, I think, a win-win for our client and the town.”

IME said the new owners of the building wished to remain anonymous at this stage, with a view to holding a launch sometime over the summer.

The church, featuring a central tower with a clock face on each side, was built in 1843 by renowned architect R Thornton Shiells.