More than £90,000 was raised by BCLtd and its supporters
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.
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.