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Press and Journal (26/Dec/2006) - Move to save birthplace of John Buchan

(c) Press and Journal (26/Dec/2006)

Move to save birthplace of John Buchan

A Leading academic has called for the decaying Perth townhouse where one of Scotland's most famous authors was born to be preserved as a literary heritage site.

Kate Macdonald, editor of the John Buchan Society Journal, has appealed for restoration work to be carried out on Buchan's former home at 20 York Place.

The author of The Thirty-Nine Steps lived in the semi-detached Victorian house as a child before moving to the Borders with his family.

The writer's roots are marked by a small, black plaque beside the door of the privately owned house, but the property's paintwork is peeling and weeds are growing on the driveway.

The Scottish Civic Trust added the two-storey property to a list of heritage sites which should be considered for preservation work in October 2000.

Now Ms Macdonald has backed moves for the building to be restored and clearly marked as the author's birthplace. She said: "We'd like to make sure it is used as a house and not turned into offices, as that was the original purpose for which it was built."

Buchan wrote more than 100 books. The Thirty-Nine Steps became his most famous novel after legendary film director Alfred Hitchcock adapted it for the big screen in 1935.

Ms Macdonald said Buchan's growing popularity meant the house had the potential to attract more than local interest. She said: "Buchan is hugely popular around the world and our society has about 500 members from many different countries.

"There is a particularly strong interest from America and Canada, partly because Buchan was the governor general of Canada when he died in 1940."

A spokesman for the Scottish Civic Trust said they were monitoring the condition of the property but had not put it on the Buildings at Risk register - a list of historically important buildings in urgent need of preservation - at the moment.

A spokeswoman for Perth and Kinross Council said the council had contacted the house's owner after concerns were raised about the property's condition last year.

She added the council had no power to order the owner to restore the building.

David Reid, solicitor for the house's owner, said the property had been bought in a poor condition. He added some improvement works had been carried out since then, including tidying up the entrance way and lowering a kerb.