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2 May 2024

Why we love Alloa Tower

Why we love Alloa Tower


Five speakers: Alison Fraser (Visitor Services Manager); Maya Snoddy (Visitor Services Supervisor); John Guyan (Visitor Services Assistant); Les Pike (Volunteer); Sandra Thomson (Volunteer)

My name is Alison Fraser. I'm Visitor Services Manager for the National Trust for Scotland at Alloa Tower.
Alloa Tower is a 15th-century tower house located on the north shore of the River Forth.
It was completed in 1497 and it was home to the Erskine family.
The tower is an unusual building.
It was originally a fortified tower house and also a family home, but in the 18th century it was modified by the 6th Earl of Mar. He did his Grand Tour and he came back and wanted an Italianate staircase; he wanted a domed ceiling and he wanted a minstrels' gallery.
What I really love about this place is that when I was very small, I actually used to stay a stone's throw away from the tower. I could never imagine myself actually working here ... and now 28 years later I'm still here!
What I really love is the passion from the team here and the volunteers. It's very, very special; I can't imagine working anywhere else.
I get up in the morning and I feel so privileged to come to work.

I'm Maya Snoddy. I'm the Visitor Services Supervisor here at Alloa Tower and I work for the National Trust for Scotland.
I think the most common comment that we get from somebody coming back down, having gone all the way up to the roof walk, is how different it is from any other tower house.
They come up the grand Italianate staircase and suddenly they're in a Victorian home. That's a bit of a shock for somebody who came to see a 15th-century defensive tower!
I love meeting so many different people who are interested in so many different aspects of the history.
One guest might be really excited to see the portraits; another guest might be really excited for the Jacobite history; somebody else for the architecture.
It gives you an opportunity to learn about all the different parts of history that this tower encapsulates.
I've always worked in museums and heritage, even back in the States, so getting to work with the National Trust for Scotland was a dream come true. I really love it.
Kids can expect to do the Lego Trail, which is a a big hit.
They love seeing all the unique figures that we have for Mary, Queen of Scots and James I & VI of Scotland.
We have a ton for them to do!

My name is John Guyan and I work for NTS as a Visitor Services Assistant.
There's so much I love about the tower.
We've been here for over 20 years, and I think one of the main things is the atmosphere.
A visitor said to me, just a couple of weeks ago, 'I like it in here'. She said it was the first time I've been here but it's got a comforting atmosphere; you feel nice in here.
And it's that time I realised that's one of the things I like about it: it's a comforting atmosphere.
The tower is possibly the oldest and most historic building of this nature in Scotland and there's so many different things that you can see.
The 700-year oak beamed roof, the collection of paintings ... there's so many things that are worthwhile coming in to see.

My name is Les. I'm a volunteer in Alloa Tower. It's part of the National Trust for Scotland.
I've been volunteering here for around 20 years.
I love this place!
I've been coming here for all these years and I love it because it's a lovely building.
It's an old building; it's of great historical interest and I think the big thing is that you know it's belonged to the same family all that time.
Therefore all the objects are all things that are directly associated with the family, and of course the family still exists and they still have an ongoing connection with the place.

My name is Sandra Thomson. I'm a volunteer here at Alloa Tower and I've worked here for several years.
What I love about Alloa Tower is how it's grown from the past.
In 1988 the tower was a shell, with running water down the walls, pigeon poo on the floor and no glass in the windows. Presently it's warm, it's dry, it's comfortable and the pigeons have moved elsewhere.
In the future, I hope, there will be very many more visitors to see our lovely house now with the family paintings looking down at us, and I'd like to think that they are happy now that their house is once again warm, dry and full of people and full of fun.

Meet members of the Alloa Tower team who share some of the things they love most about this surprising 15th-century tower house.

The contrast between the forbidding stone exterior and the warm friendly welcome you receive as you step into the luxurious interior is one of the memories that stays with you after visiting Alloa Tower.

From astonishing rooftop views to a gorgeous portrait collection, there’s so much to experience here.

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