Celebrating 40 years of Creetown Gem Rock Museum
Creetown Gem Rock Museum celebrated its 40th anniversary last week.
The Stephenson family already had a collection of gems, crystals, minerals and fossils and decided, on discovering the old county school was for sale, this would be the perfect place to show it all off.
Tim Stephenson said: “We had been coming to Galloway on holiday for many years and we loved it.
"How lucky were we to find such a fantastic place to grow a business, a family and a life?”
A museum had originally been started in the building in 1971 by George and Mary Hinchliffe, but they moved away in 1973 to start another near Huntly.
The Craig family took over before abandoning it in the late 1970s, by which time the building and contents needed some serious work.
Over the last 40 years the Stephensons have welcomed over a million visitors, with the museum being almost been entirely self-financed.
A real labour of love, the family not only had a vision for the collection, but also one for the restoration of the building.
Tim said: “Every year we set about making improvements to what we offer our visitors, not only have we improved the displays and facilities, but also slowly restored the whole building.
“The Gem Rock Museum is now huge, with gems, crystals, minerals and fossils from all over the globe.
"What was once a niche subject is now perhaps more pertinent to all our lives and helps us understand how our universe works, and that we are capable of affecting our planet with the way we live.”
The museum also contains a large shop offering a selection of gifts and jewellery, as well as a 70-seater tearoom.
Tim said: “Many of our current staff have been with us for a very long time, and we could not do it without them.
“Running a business in a rural community isn’t easy, it’s very seasonal, but we’re immensely proud the running and development of the museum has almost been entirely self-financed; although the last 15 months have been some of the most challenging.
“However, we are as excited about the new season as ever and look forward to welcoming visitors, for many of whom a visit to the museum is an annual pilgrimage.”
For more information visit www.gemrock.net.