In 2009, two of the casualties of the local authority budget cuts were the Nelson Tower monument and The Tolbooth in Forres. Nelson Tower, a famous landmark in Forres was closed to visitors. The Tolbooth, once the focal point of the town and the site of justice with a courtroom and cells had been used for storage and allowed to fall into disrepair. The Tolbooth had ceased to be needed by the local authority for several years and requests by the local community for the building to be reopened for use were to no avail. A public meeting in 2010 to gauge the community’s views on having the Tower and the Tolbooth reopened attracted over 100 people. The turn-out at the public meeting only served to demonstrate how well loved these buildings were in Forres. Forres Heritage Trust was formed in November of that year to represent the local community in their quest for community ownership. Now Forres Heritage Trust is a group of volunteers which owns the Forres Tolbooth and which rents the Nelson Tower from The Moray Council. These two buildings are full of interesting artefacts and give a real sense of the history of Forres and its surrounding area.
The Community Council for the Royal Burgh of Forres recommends Forres Heritage Trust and their projects - the Forres Tolbooth and Nelson Tower for a Scottish Civic Trust My Place Award. In the Tower, after 1st April 2016, there will be a scale model of Nelson’s flagship, the Victory, as well as a video showing an animated version of the Battle of Trafalgar. The Nelson Tower is popular with school groups and visitors who don’t mind climbing to the top of Cluny Hill then almost 100 steps to appreciate the panoramic view from the top. Over the last two years over 6000 people, not counting the school groups, have visited the Tower. The Tolbooth has been the jewel of Forres High Street since 1838 and the building, including the old prison, makes a fascinating visit for both teachers and school children. These days the Forres Tolbooth is a vibrant and bustling landmark that is well used by the local community. The Tolbooth in particular has weekly coffee mornings, regular exhibitions (old photographs are very popular) and the court room is in demand for organisations looking to hold their meetings. The Community Council recognises the efforts that have been made and the numerous obstacles that have been overcome by the Trust to bring these two well-loved landmarks back into community use. Much time and effort was spent writing and rewriting business plans, liaising with the local authority, communicating with Historic Scotland (both are listed buildings) and raising funds. Many volunteer hours have been spent in the Tolbooth; working parties meet twice weekly to carry out essential maintenance to restore it to the splendid place it once was; local people have stepped forward to act as tour guides in the Tolbooth and to ensure that the Nelson Tower is open all summer for the benefit of locals and visitors. The Community Council for the Royal Burgh of Forres has no hesitation in recommending Forres Heritage Trust Ltd for a Scottish Civic Trust My Place Award.