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DIANE KNOX: Loss of Ironworks music venue in Inverness is going to leave a big gap in market, says our Invernessian in America

By Diane Knox

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Ironworks music venue in Inverness.
Ironworks music venue in Inverness.

Last week, the Highland Council decided that the Ironworks, Inverness’s premier music venue, will be replaced by a hotel.

I remember when the Ironworks first opened. It was a custom-built space for music and entertainment, something brand new to the city and a concept that got a lot of people very excited.

I was working at MFR and I remember how elated we all were; we all saw the potential and started brainstorming ideas and collaborations!

Growing up in Inverness, we were so used to having to travel to see bands and great live music, or cram into small spaces that served as makeshift concert venues. Before the Ironworks, it was the Spectrum Centre that was so widely used to house these gigs – ah the memories!

Plus, with the success of Belladrum, bands were able to really see the passionate audience that awaited them in the Highlands.

I remember speaking to Amy MacDonald about playing at the Ironworks, and how much she always loved the energy there. I’m quite sure she’s not the only one who walked away from a gig in our local venue and literally sang its praises.

Culturally, the Ironworks has served as a niche venue ever since it opened, a venue dedicated to live music and entertainment.

When it first opened, it immediately put Inverness on the map with regards to the Scottish music scene; artists and bands had a dedicated performance space in the Highland capital.

It was more appealing to big name acts to travel north, and it gave a musical “home” to local talent, of which there has always been plenty.

Sure, a big brand hotel is appealing to tourism and offers somewhere for travellers to stay. The new Courtyard by Marriott will contain a bar, restaurant and gym, open to the public, create jobs and host over 100,000 visitors every year. But is it worth tearing down such an important piece of the north of Scotland’s arts scene?

The end for the Ironworks

Loss of the Ironworks is devastating

It seemed the writing was on the wall for a while when it came to the decision, which is quite ironic because that’s one thing I remember about working some gigs for MFR at the Ironworks – the signatures of bands, artists and performers backstage on the walls, serving as eclectic decoration and a badge of pride.

I’ve been on YouTube for hours as I write this column, watching videos from the Ironworks. Gosh, it’s really such a shame, and such a huge loss to our city.

However, until the final curtain call, make the most of it! Buy tickets, go enjoy the music and show support to the venue that really made its mark on the north of Scotland.

There’s going to be a huge gap in the market now, and hopefully a new multi-purpose venue is in the works somewhere in the area.

A venue that could house concerts, sporting events, performances and serve as a booming hub of entertainment. We wait with baited breath…

Many, many people contributed to the success of the venue – the acts who travelled to play at the Ironworks, the fans who so loyally flocked in their droves to have a great time, and the team behind the scenes who, with such passion, stamped Inverness on the musical map of Scotland. It will be missed greatly.

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