The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Friday, 23 October 2015

First phase of Belleisle Conservatory £600,000 restoration complete – with more to come!

The first phase of an exciting project to restore an iconic conservatory in South Ayrshire is now complete, paving the way for phase two works and a full reopening in spring 2016 for local people and visitors.

Registered charity Belleisle Conservatory Ltd (BCLtd) and South Ayrshire Council  – supported with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) – have been working in partnership to refurbish Belleisle Conservatory, which was first built in 1879 and was a popular visitor attraction for decades.

[Gordon Wilson, Chairman of BCLtd is pictured with Council Chief Executive Eileen Howat and Portfolio Holder Councillor John McDowall as he hands over the £92,507.59 raised by Belleisle Conservatory Ltd for the restoration project. Looking on are representatives from BCLtd, Friends of Belleisle, South Ayrshire Council, architects ARPL and contractors Richardson and Starling.]

Almost half a million pounds – including more than £92,000 that has been raised by BCLtd – has been invested so far to make the conservatory wind and watertight. The phase one works included timber replacement/repairs, new double-glazing, new lighting and venting system, refurbishment of the heating system, and painting of the impressive structure.

The next phase will include the re-laying and refurbishment of the historic tiled floor, improved disability access, and interpretation works to help ensure visitors are fully informed about what they will see on their visits.

Once the works are complete – which is expected to be in spring 2016 – BCLtd will take over the maintenance and management of the conservatory as part of its lease-holding arrangements, and open the conservatory to the public.

Viewing the phase one works, Councillor John McDowall, Portfolio Holder for Sustainability and Environment, said: “The transformation of the conservatory is absolutely stunning and I must congratulate our architects ARPL and contractors Richardson and Starling for their sensitive and inspiring interpretation of these restoration works – they’ve done a magnificent job. It’s quite hard to remember just how poor a condition the conservatory was in when you see it like this and, while there’s more work to done, I have no doubt the conservatory will be a major draw when it fully reopens next year.   

“This project has been a real labour of love for everyone involved and my thanks to BCLtd for its drive and determination to see the conservatory reopened in all its glory – including the magnificent level of fundraising – and to the Friends of Belleisle for their ongoing support. It really has helped bring the conservatory back to life.”

Gordon Wilson, Chairman of BCLtd said: “This is a very exciting stage for the project to restore the conservatory and it is testament to the efforts of BCLtd and the Council, the funding from HLF and the support of the Friends of Belleisle and many others. It’s been a true partnership effort and it’s clear to see that it’s now paying dividends, although we still have a fair bit to do. To keep up this momentum, we need people to continue to support the conservatory and help us build up the necessary funds to maintain its upkeep for generations to come.”

Norman McLean, Chairman of Friends of Belleisle, added: “It’s great to see some tangible evidence of the masterplan for Belleisle taking shape and the conservatory will be a major attraction for both locals and visitors to Belleisle. We’re delighted to support BCLtd and the Council to bring back this landmark facility and I look forward to seeing lots of people visiting it in the future.”

To mark the completion of the first phase of the works, BCLtd is holding a special open weekend at Belleisle Conservatory between 1pm-4pm on Saturday 31 October and Sunday 1 November. Committee members from BCLtd will be on hand to discuss the progress of the project and there will be an opportunity to donate funds towards the upkeep and development of the conservatory. Everyone is welcome to attend.

The other photographs show the visitors viewing the works that have been carried out, and an exterior image of the phase 1 completion.

Belleisle Park was awarded a total of £1,938,400 through HLF’s Parks for People programme in January 2014. This will be used to deliver on the masterplan for Belleisle, supported by around £900,000 from South Ayrshire Council and £100,000 from the Central Energy Efficiency Fund (CEEF) for renewable energy measures.

A further £60,000 funding was provided from the Scottish Government’s Legacy 2014 Active Places Fund, which was invested in the new multi-generational play and activity area.

In addition, the Council is investing around £1.5 million in a new build golf clubhouse at Belleisle, which will vastly improve the available off-course facilities. 

It’s estimated that around £300,000 will be contributed to the project in the form of volunteer time and effort.

Belleisle Park is home to Belleisle House; the conservatory, which is leased to BCLtd; a fantastic new play area; walled garden; the deer park; green space and woodland; and two 18 hole golf courses – Belleisle and Seafield, which are owned and run by South Ayrshire Council.

The five-year Belleisle masterplan to rejuvenate and restore the park includes:

The redevelopment of Belleisle stable block, providing a cafe, toilets and further multi-functional space.

The refurbishment of Belleisle conservatory.

The development of landscaping and further woodland management.

The relocation and upgrading of the play area.

Upgrading of the footpath network, improved accessibility, improved park furniture, litter bins & interpretative signage.

The development of events and volunteer participation.

South Ayrshire Council and ARPL Architects are both Founder Members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

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