Dunans Steading: A deteriorating, neglected, historic building

We’re working very hard at Dunans, restoring and protecting Castle and Bridge – the castle is a B-listed structure, and the bridge is A-listed. If you have been following my posts you’ll know about our Conservation Plan for Dunans, and how we are moving from feasibility work, through design and investigatory works towards consent.

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Published in April 2014, our Conservation Plan

Associated with the site there are several other historic structures. One is the C-listed Fletcher Mausoleum: this building is the only one remaining in Fletcher ownership – which is entirely appropriate. Another is the old steading to the North-east of the castle, known as Dunans Steading – a building sold apart from the Castle in 1999.

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A 19th Century map showing spatial relation between bridge (top left), castle (bottom middle) and steading (top right)

Built at around the same time as the bridge was built it is believed the Steading was used as accommodation for the workforce who worked on the A-listed structure. Over the subsequent years this courtyard of buildings was utilised variously by the Fletchers as: mill for the timber needed to construct the castle; estate office, running the 40,000 acre estate; stables; hay barn; vehicle storage and general workshop space.

In the mid-2000s an application was submitted which the local authority insisted was accompanied by an application for Listed Building Consent. This Listed Building application was acknowledgement of the very particular place the building plays at Dunans. Not only does it stand in the historic policies of Dunans Castle, and has a direct functional purpose for the castle, but also the only access to it, is Dunans Bridge. This fact of access means that any use the owners of the Steadings make of the bridge has to be cognisant of the listed status of the bridge, the involvement of Historic Scotland and the Dunans Charitable Trust.

The other factor in this story, is the electricity supply to the castle. Originally of course, when both buildings were in the same ownership , the power supply could be routed to the steading and then onto the castle without problem. In fact, when it was installed Colonel Fletcher insisted the meters be sited at the Steading for ease of access by the electricity company, as well as ensuring the privacy of the family and the proximity of the working element of the estate for any queries. A sensible arrangement then.

However, when the Steading was split apart from the castle the meters weren’t similarly split – neither the electricity company or the then owners insisted on this, despite it being a condition of sale. This means then to read our bill – more of which in a subsequent post – I have to venture onto the neighbouring land, and in close proximity to fallen trees, smashed walls and very precarious gable ends pick my way to the meters, prise open the meter door and take the reading. A tri-monthly gauntlet.

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The approach to the Steading!
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The meters and the obstructions!

To record the state of things, and the danger to yours truly, this time I took some photos, and was inspired to write this post when I saw the results – a building in desperate need. The owners have refused us contact details (we believe they are based down in Kent), are not contactable through their agents, have not been onsite to our knowledge for over 2 years, will not talk to us, the owners of their sole access to their building. This is difficult when, as you’ll know, we are presently putting together an application to funders for of the restoration of the A-listed bridge – ie. £750K.

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Work on the bridge, Summer 2014

What is particularly galling is that both the steading and the bridge need work now, and therefore we need to have a reasonable dialogue with the owners about their usage of the bridge to enable work on the Steading and what their contribution will be to the restoration of the bridge.

That conversation is needed because until we have it, forward movement on either project will prove very difficult.

Here’re some more images of the problems …

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Our #Indiegogo #Campaign Kicks Off: Let’s Restore Historic Dunans Bridge

So very excited to launch our Crowdsource funding campaign today on Indiegogo, with a great video and lots of super pics.

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Here’s the text of our Press Release:

Dunans Bridge Bicentenary Restoration takes huge step forward

New IndieGogo Campaign to Restore A-listed, Thomas-Telford-designed, Dunans Bridge

Today sees the launch of a crowdfund campaign to accelerate the restoration of one of Argyll’s architectural jewels, the 16m (45ft) high Dunans Bridge in Glendaruel, Cowal. The bridge which gives access to B-Listed Dunans Castle and crosses Argyll’s-own “Grand Canyon”, the Chaol Ghleann gorge, is in need of serious repair, and is the first stage in the recently published Conservation Plan for Dunans written by eminent conservation architect Robin Kent, which culminates in the restoration of B-listed Dunans Castle in 2019 into a public building with Visitor Centre, Event space and Lairds’ and Ladies’ accommodation.

Over the last six months the team at Dunans has been working through the preliminaries to get the restoration of the bridge going, including producing drawings, defining specifications, undertaking investigatory works and clearing vegetation. The bridge is now ready for the works, and these works need to happen urgently.

As Charles says, “We’re hoping to gift the bridge the best 200th birthday present it could possibly get – a complete restoration. Sadie and myself are very excited to think that in 8 or 9 months time, the bridge’s future will be assured and we can celebrate our achievement with a huge Bridge Birthday celebration!”

Grant-funding applications are being made for this project by the Dunans Charitable Trust to Historic Scotland and the Heritage Lottery Fund, but because funding streams are never certain, Charles and Sadie Dixon-Spain decided that an Indiegogo campaign would be the ideal way of raising the profile of the bridge and also raising funds for the restoration and events programme that will be delivered alongside the works.

Culminating in a Bridge party in late summer 2015, the works will last between 6 and 8 months, and restore the bridge to a pristine state in its bicentenary year. The 200th anniversary of Thomas Telford completing the bridge is worth celebrating in itself, and preparing the bridge for a further 200 years of service is a fitting gift to the structure.

The IndieGogo campaign will also mark the first and only time that the title Laird or Lady of Dunans Bridge will be available. As a perk of contributing to the campaign, the title, and sundry other benefits, like scarves, ties and personalised email addresses, will be augmented with a permanent record of the names of Contributors, online, by the Bridge and, once restored, inside the castle too.

The page for our Indiegogo campaign is http://igg.me/at/dunans-bridge

Charles and Sadie, along with the team at Dunans, have been working tirelessly over the last few years, particularly since the beginning of the Scottishlaird Project in December 2007 to restore Castle and Bridge. With over 120,000 Lairds and Ladies now supporting the project, and providing over 5,000 visits* to the site in 2014 alone, this campaign has every chance of reaching its target of £411,600 as well as making a significant and lasting contribution to the local and regional economy.

*VisitScotland figures show that these 5,000 visits are worth a total of £2M to the local economy, with visits to Dunans being the primary motivation behind the visitors trip to Argyll (from within the UK) and Scotland (for our international Lairds and Ladies)

 

Initial Enquiry into the Heritage Lottery Fund for Dunans Bridge Today!

… and they’ll be getting back to us in 10 days. As soon as they feedback we’ll report here. In the meantime here’s the detail of what we said:

Continue reading Initial Enquiry into the Heritage Lottery Fund for Dunans Bridge Today!

Progress on the Bridge! We’re devising applications to Historic Scotland and Heritage Lottery Fund this week to effect its repair and restoration.

bigbridgeThe next stage in our progress to restoring Dunans, notwithstanding the ongoing consultation on our Conservation Plan, is putting in place the funds for the repair of the bridge. Today I have been working on the application to Historic Scotland on behalf of the Dunans Charitable Trust. I’ve now worked through the entire online form (excerpt attached to this post) and I am beginning the process of making the application to the Heritage Lottery Fund while I await feedback. Necessarily this is a detailed process, but the work that Robin Kent and David Narro associates have put in on the Conservation Plan and Indicative Costings make the whole process much less onerous than I thought it would be.

Once we have finalised the application we’ll be publishing the submitted form (less confidential material) on the Dunans Charitable Trust website here.