MORE than a year after its doors were closed to the public, a visitor centre celebrating some of Helensburgh’s most noted achievers could be set to reopen in a new form.

Burgh resident Professor Michael Baker says he wants to reopen the former Helensburgh Heroes centre at 28 Sinclair Street, which opened in a blaze of positive publicity almost exactly two years ago but was abruptly closed in October of 2018, in the new year.

Professor Baker, who bought the shop unit in 2017 for Helensburgh Heroes to use and still owns the premises, resigned as a trustee of the charity in March of last year along with his daughter Fiona.

He told the Advertiser that following a dispute over safe access to the rear of the Sinclair Street property – which led to the premises’ closure 13 months ago – he was now ready to “move forward” by reopening the front of the premises in a new form.

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Professor Baker’s idea is to reopen the Sinclair Street facility – partly as a space to honour Helensburgh’s achievers, in a similar form to the Helensburgh Heroes concept, but partly also to provide a permanent space for the area’s artists and craftspeople to exhibit and sell their work.

But he says that he firstly wants to know whether people in the town would be willing to volunteer to help keep such a facility open to the public.

“I’m anxious to get these premises up and running and meet the objective of creating a community asset,” Professor Baker said.

“We repossessed them and I’ve been trying to refurbish them to make them suitable for use again.

“The basic idea is that the exhibition hall at Helensburgh Heroes, which was purpose built to display memorabilia and artefacts associated with Helensburgh, could be populated with a number of displays, arts and crafts, for exhibition and sale.

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“I want to open the front of the shop in its original role as a visitor centre, selling souvenirs to generate revenue.

“In the original Helensburgh Heroes proposition, we were keen to get volunteers to help run the visitor centre, and we got the names of several people who would be willing to look after the front end of the premises.

“I want the premises to be something the community can benefit from and which would be a visitor attraction in its own right to create employment opportunities for people in Helensburgh.”

The Helensburgh Heroes project was established in 2008 and for much of its life aimed to convert an old warehouse in the town’s George Street into a visitor centre.

But that situation changed in 2017 when Professor Baker – who was described at the time as “an anonymous benefactor” – bought the Sinclair Street premises and offered them rent-free to Helensburgh Heroes for two years.

READ MORE: Helensburgh Heroes 'is continuing' despite centre's closure, says director

Professor Baker continued: “I thought Helensburgh Heroes was a good idea, and I supported it for many years, and I still hang on to the view that the town needs a visitor centre, and that there are commercial opportunities to cover the cost of running one.

“I’m in my 80s; I’m not interested in running a shop or becoming an active volunteer in too many organisations. But what I do want to know is whether people would still be interested in being a volunteer.”

Phil Worms, who started up the Helensburgh Heroes project as its founding director and remains a trustee, said: “Helensburgh Heroes is currently considering its position and is involved in discussions with several parties.”