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Forres Heritage Trust has upgraded the Tolbooth clockwork and housed a model of the old town train station

By Garry McCartney

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A PROMINENT tourist attraction on the local skyline has reopened with a new look and attraction inside.

Bob James, of Forres Heritage Trust alongside one of the newly refurbished clock faces on the town's Tolbooth.Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Bob James, of Forres Heritage Trust alongside one of the newly refurbished clock faces on the town's Tolbooth.Picture: Daniel Forsyth

The Tolbooth is open for tours again now its clock face and mechanism have been renovated by building custodians Forres Heritage Trust (FHT).

In addition to viewing the restoration, visitors will also now be able to enjoy an intricate model of Forres Railway Station made by Forres Heritage Trust volunteer Ross Dalziel, previously on show behind glass in the old station.

The model was salvaged when the building was demolished and has since been restored by John Tweddle and Tom Logie, with Mr Dalziel’s help.

Forres Tolbooth first opened for tours in 2022. Visitors start in the old police office where they can play prisoner, see what life was like in the cells, have their fingerprints taken, view the rogues’ gallery and have their picture taken against the mugshot wall.

The visit continues through the back corridors where the view the model railway is displayed, heads onto the historic court room and onwards to the newly renovated clocktower for views across the town.

Workmanship on the edge.
Workmanship on the edge.

FHT chairman George Alexander said: “We are delighted to be reopening the Tolbooth! The works that have been ongoing are the joint effort from a number of our dedicated volunteers.

“The clock faces are spectacular. This part of the renovation has been handled by trustee Bob James, who was also a key player in our recent lighting project which saw the Tolbooth and Nelson’s tower being lit up.

“The clock faces had lost their special reflective backing and were transparent and dirty in places. The bezels required cleaning and painting, and one clock face was cracked but now they look sensational.

“We’d like to offer a special thank you to painter, Ian Fraser, who cleaned and painted the bezels before the new clock faces were fitted. He has done a wonderful job.

“A trustee has also worked on the old clock mechanism, creating a 3D printed drive mechanism which people can operate themselves.”

The clockwork behind the Tolbooth’s famous faces.
The clockwork behind the Tolbooth’s famous faces.

George added: “The Tolbooth tour is really interesting and appeals to all age groups.

“We have tried to make it as interactive as possible and people visiting will now also be able to enjoy the model of the previous railway station.”

FHT also looks after Nelson’s Tower, open daily from 2-4pm until the end of September, and offering uninterrupted views across the countryside, out to Findhorn and beyond.

Peter Haworth organises the volunteer guides for the tower which was built as a memorial to Admiral Lord Nelson.

He said: “We have been welcoming visitors from all over the world despite the weather not been kind.

“Our volunteers enjoy meeting and greeting people, and showing them up the tower. There are two beautiful rooms, one which focuses on Lord Nelson himself and the other which features information about Forres.”

To book a tour of the Tolbooth email: FHTTolboothTours@outlook.com

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