Published: 12/01/2012 23:59 - Updated: 20/01/2012 10:25

Durness folk deny anger over 'John Lennon house' plans

DURNESS residents deny they are "angry" at any proposals to demolish the house where John Lennon spent many of his school holidays, contrary to national newspaper reports over the weekend.

Members of the local community council, at their meeting on Tuesday night, discussed the articles which claimed that the current owners of 54 Sangomore, Richard and Vanessa Stanton, were looking at knocking it down.

Planning permission to alter and extend the house was approved in 2010, but it is understood that subsequently, because of the state of the property, it would now need to be demolished and a new house built.

Community councillors agreed that the house is in a state of disrepair and are sympathetic to the Stantons' belief that there needs to be a complete rebuild.

The members hope, though, that a commemorative plaque on the wall of the house will remain.

Community councillor Kevin Crowe, Balnakeil, told us: "This has been discussed by Durness Community Council and it is our understanding that the house is in such a state of disrepair as to be uninhabitable at the moment.

"Whatever is done to the house, we hope it will be done in such a way as to respect the memory of John Lennon and his associations with Durness.

"When any repairs or rebuilding are completed, we would hope the plaque would be put back in place.

"Durness is proud of its links with one of the great singers and songwriters of the 20th century and we would like to see those links maintained."

Highland Councillor for North, West and Central Sutherland, George Farlow, agreed: "The community council accepted that the building was now beyond repair given that a significant number of slates were off the roof and the interior was largely exposed to the elements.

"The owners, I believe, recognise the importance of the dwelling and will re-erect the John Lennon commemorative plaque on completion."

And fellow councillor Robbie Rowantree said: "There is no doubt that being associated with the huge following that surrounds world interest in the life and music of the Beatles and John Lennon has been of benefit to the tourist industry in the north-west.

"Whether the preservation of the house that Lennon spent his holidays in needs to be there to continue to attract tourists can be far better judged by tourist business operators in the area.

"I believe that it was the beauty and tranquillity of north-west Sutherland and its contrast to post-war Liverpool that was the attraction and is still the draw to the area today."

The house was owned by John's aunt, Mimi Smith, and later John's cousin, Stanley Parkes, stayed there for about 10 years. The property has more recently been in the hands of the Stanton family for more than 20 years.

Mr and Mrs Stanton are known well locally, visiting regularly from their home in Kent. Mr Stanton has promised that any new building would have the plaque displayed.

The house was one of the focal points of the successful John Lennon Northern Lights Festival in September 2007, a celebration of his life and music which featured singers and musicians such as Donnie Munro, Julie Fowlis and Allison Crowe.

It is believed that John wrote the song "In My Life" about the house and the Durness area.

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