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Preston Tower and Doocot
Conservation / Prestonpans, Scotland / 2021 –

Preston Tower is a Scheduled Ancient Monument consisting of a partially ruined Tower House, Doocot and Garden nestling in the heart of the town of Prestonpans, East Lothian. The Tower’s lower storeys are possibly of late 14th century origin while the upper storeys were added in 1626. It was burned, along with the adjacent town of Prestonpans in 1544 during the Rough Wooing and then again in 1650. After being rebuilt, its upper storeys were burned again (by accident), in 1663 and the Tower was finally permanently abandoned.

As a prominent built feature on the Forth, it has been a significant landmark in the area ever since. However, it fell into a derelict state by the late 1800’s when a number of local citizens worked together to consolidate its remaining walls and floors. Saving it for future generations. During the early 20th century, it functioned as the centrepiece of a commercial market garden and in the late 1960s it passed into the ownership of the National Trust for Scotland and is now managed by East Lothian Council. Phased conservation work is currently taking place focused on improving access and encouraging more people to visit in future while contributing to local regeneration.

The project is being supported by the Scottish Government’s Town Centre Fund and progressed by East Lothian Council in collaboration with building owners the National Trust for Scotland and with the support of the Preston, Seton & Gosford Area Partnership, and the National Lottery-funded Great Place Project. The Phase 1 repairs to the Doocot, garden walls, access paths & interpretation are on site. This includes works to make safe the Doocot roof that was collapsing, retaining as much original fabric as possible by traditionally repairing the masonry stone walls and pigeon nest holes, whilst also recording the existing structure for interpretation purposes. GRAS are also working with the local community to develop an exciting package of Phase 2 works. These will include the conservation repair of the Tower and improve accessibility to the interior and interpretation with works commencing in Spring 2022.

The Quaich Project – Shelters
Conservation / Edinburgh, Scotland / 2020

Our appointment to develop proposals for the redevelopment of West Princes Street Gardens in the heart of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site encompassed a continuous requirement to assess and minimise the effects of all new works upon the heritage assets possessed by the site.  This included reviewing and updating the pre-existing Conservation Management Plan and Statement of Significance and the preparation of a detailed Heritage Statement for early submission to the Council’s planning authority  

A detailed and comprehensive scheme of conservation and repair works to the three garden shelters located along the upper terrace was separately advanced; dating from 1948 and category B listed, these concrete shelters together form a comparatively early example of modernism in Edinburgh and the only such structures in the Gardens. 

Moffat CACAMP
Conservation / Scottish Borders, Scotland / 2019

Moffat is a small town with a population of around 2,500 located in the district of Annandale in the Scottish Borders, around 21 miles north of Dumfries.  The town developed primarily over the late 18th and early 19th centuries as a spa resort, having been largely redeveloped in the late 18th century during which a number of hotels and inns were constructed in the town centre to cater for the growing number of visitors. 

Moffat Conservation Area includes the town centre and extends north eastward to encompass parkland extending down to the Annan Water and westward to cover an area of mainly 19th century residential development.  GRAS were first appointed by the Community Council in late 2018 to prepare a Conservation Area Character Appraisal & Management Plan, which was then used to support an application to the Scottish Government for funding under the Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) programme.  This in turn resulted in a number of subsequent appointments, including development of proposals to refurbish and adapt the category B listed Archbald Moffat House, which dates from the late 18th century.

Isle of May Light Beacon
Conservation / Islay of May, Scotland / 2017

The Isle of May Light Beacon is a Scheduled Ancient Monument located on the Isle of May in the middle of the Firth of Forth. Dating from circa 1636, it is the earliest purpose-built lighthouse in Scotland and thought to be one of the oldest surviving lighthouse structures in the world. Over the years the building fell out of use and traditional repair materials were substituted for a more economical short-term solution, this combined with a reduced available workforce resulted in the repair and maintenance being increasingly compromised. Following increasing concerns over the condition of the building, GRAS were appointed to carry out a detailed survey of the building and make recommendations for its conservation and repair. Scheduled Ancient Monument consent was granted and through collaboration with both Historic Environment Scotland and a team of specialist conservators a schedule of works was delivered securing the longer-term future of the building.

Weather and tidal conditions often imposed logistical challenges, as well as the limitations placed on the times of year in which construction works could take place due to the Forth Islands being a Special Protected Area. The overall works included masonry repairs, re-harling, the application of limewash, replacement of defective joinery and the careful conservation of the armorial panel above the entrance door. This project required an informed and collaborative approach, involving several different stakeholders with often conflicting priorities. Thorough research and a meticulous approach to pre-planning and phasing of the works was essential, as well as ensuring that sufficient on-site quality control was maintained.

Inveravon Pictish Stones
Conservation / Ballindalloch, Scotland / 2012

Inveravon Church, Ballindalloch, has four Class I Incised Pictish Symbol stones; dating from around the 6th Century AD. The stones depict representations of the ‘Pictish Beast,’ the most iconic of all the Pictish Symbols. Set into the south wall of the church, the stones were exposed to the problematic freeze-thaw cycle of the Highland site. The mounting of the stones was also causing damp ingress through the wall of the church. The stones were conserved and carefully removed from the wall. Now relocated in the stable environment of the North porch, they are complemented by the installation of interpretation panels.

Lissan House & Demesne
Conservation / Ulster, Northern Ireland / 2012

Lissan Demesne, Cookstown, is an estate owned by a charity for the benefit of the local community. When GRAS became involved, the whole property was in poor repair after decades of declining fortunes. Following a Feasibility Study, GRAS completed emergency repairs at Lissan House and a Conservation Management Plan of the estate. Major phase 1 works then followed, involving external restoration and internal upgrading of the house, improvements to access and parking, construction of an adventure play area, and collaboration with an external consultant to provide discreet interpretation. GRAS worked with key stakeholders to retain Lissan’s character as a unique family home and provide visitors with an insight into the history of its occupants. Phase 2  works, for the repair and conversion of the adjacent outbuildings to form further visitor facilities will recommence when funding becomes available.

Pitsligo Castle
Conservation / Rosehearty, Scotland / 2012

Pitsligo Castle is a scheduled ancient monument and a category ‘A’ listed building. It consists of a large roofless courtyard castle dating mainly from the 15th and 16th centuries, set in approximately four acres of grounds within which is a walled garden and woodlands. The castle has been largely ruinous for a great many years now and although some consolidation and stabilisation works were undertaken in the late 1980s much of it remains in a parlous condition. GRAS were first appointed by the Pitsligo Castle Trust in 2004 to prepare a Conservation Plan on both the castle and the nearby Peathill Kirk, with which it has close historical associations.

Following the offer of a generous repairs grant from Historic Scotland, we were appointed by the Trust in 2009 to implement the first phase of a carefully prioritised programme of repair and consolidation works. These works comprised the removal of corroded shoring, scaffolding and heavy vegetation growth, the installation of new support structures, extensive masonry repairs and selective repointing works. Further phases of repairs are planned in the future subject to funding.

Brough Lodge
Conservation / Shetland, Scotland / 2011 –

Brough Lodge, Fetlar, is undergoing a phased restoration project, orchestrated by the Brough Lodge Trust. Built in 1825, this highly unusual category A-listed gothic mansion has lain empty and unused in a very exposed environment since the 1980’s and has a great many conservation needs. The aim is to restore and creatively re-use the building as a mixed-use commercial venue, focusing on hosting short courses and activities involving the arts and environmental themes.

Brough Lodge will benefit the local community by maximising the potential for development of the tourist market, expanding knowledge and understanding of Fetlar’s cultural background and creating new jobs and economic diversification: essential to the island’s long-term survival and future development. The first phase of carefully prioritised conservation and repair works was completed in 2016 with generous funding from Historic Environment Scotland and Shetland Amenity Trust.

Cottier Theatre
Conservation / Glasgow, Scotland / 2011 –

The category A-listed former Dowanhill Church was built in 1865 with interiors and stained glass by Daniel Cottier. The building is owned by a charitable trust, FACT, whose aim is to advance the arts and heritage for the benefit of the local community. GRAS has worked over many years with FACT to convert this church in Glasgow’s West End into a sustainable and vibrant theatre, arts and wedding venue, restaurant and bar.

An initial priority was to carry out urgent repairs and follow these up, as grant funds became available, with full conservation repairs. The timing of the later repairs has had to be balanced with adaptations to the building to enable sustainable uses to emerge combining commercial activities with cultural uses. We have also had to find creative solutions to meet statutory safety standards without compromising the character and original fabric of the building. This involved creating a bar and restaurant in the smaller building, thus generating an income stream capable of supporting funding applications for the repair and upgrading of the main building. Afterwards, comprehensive repair of the external fabric was undertaken. This was then followed by a major engineering project to create a basement below the auditorium, expanding the useable floor area as well as improving functionality and operational needs. Conservation phases have included restoration of the original decorative scheme and the fine Willis organ.

Niddry Castle
Conservation / West Lothian, Scotland / 2010

Niddry Castle is a scheduled ancient monument and category A  listed building which comprises a large and imposing late 15th / early 16th century L-plan tower house. The castle had lain empty and largely ruinous for many years until the late 20th century when limited repair works were undertaken. GRAS were appointed by new owners in 2006 to survey the building, establish the extent of repair and remedial works required and apply to Historic Environment Scotland for grant finance. This application was successful and generous grant funding was secured from HES.

Following this, consents were obtained and an extensive package of external and internal conservation and repair works was undertaken, including rebuilding the gable walls and parapets, extensive masonry repairs and complete re-roofing. The works were completed in 2010 and the castle is once again fully occupied and it’s future made secure.

Belmont House
Conservation / Unst, Shetland / 2010

A-Listed Belmont House was built in 1775 on the most northerly of the Shetland Isles; Unst. The country house had fallen into an advanced state of dereliction when the Belmont Trust was established in 1996, with an aim to save and faithfully restore the building. The conservation philosophy was to disturb the existing fabric of the house as little as possible, whilst restoring the original fabric and features.

The full and detailed conservation of the interior and finishes was undertaken by a small team of local tradesmen from Unst. Original materials were re-used where possible and salvaged materials were introduced to match where required. The project received generous support from a number of agencies and charities, including Historic Scotland and Shetland Islands Council.

Photographs by Mark Sinclair

Park Circus
Conservation / Glasgow, Scotland / 2007

Designed by Architect Charles Wilson, Park Circus breaks the traditional of the Glasgow grid plan and makes the most of its panoramic hilltop location. Built c.1860 the townhouse at No. 18 has an interior designed by the Architect William Leiper, a Gothic Revivalist and one of Scotland’s leading architects at the time. The opulent interiors include ornate plasterwork, timber panelling and stained glass windows.

Once the home of a transatlantic cotton merchant, the building had been in use as offices and had fallen into disrepair. GRAS were appointed to sensitively convert the A-Listed building into six apartments and one mews property whilst retaining the overall planning of the buildings. The grand central stair facilitated access to the new apartments. Essential services were discreetly inserted whilst important architectural features were retained and restored. Critical features such as fire separation and a sprinkler system were also implemented.

Hay’s Dock
Conservation / Lerwick, Shetland / 2006

Hay’s Dock forms part of the new Shetland Museum and Archive in Lerwick. Built in 1815 by the firm of Hay and Ogilvy, it forms an important and integral part of Shetland’s maritime heritage. The work consisted of the restoration and repair of the oldest surviving man-made dock in Shetland, the fingerpier, the area around the dock and the boat-building shed. Traditional methods and materials were used throughout, such as lime and wrought iron. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Scotland Shetland Island Council and others.

Arniston House
Conservation / Midlothian, Scotland / 1998

Arniston House, one of Scotland’s architectural gems, was designed by William Adam and completed in the 1750s by his son; John Adam. Later alterations by John and Robert Adam resulted in the grandest rooms, the drawing room and the dining room. Sadly these were severely damaged by water ingress and subsequent dry rot in the 1950s. With grant aid from Historic Scotland these rooms have now been reinstated. The Dundas-Bekker family now open the house to the public.

Charlotte Square
Conservation / Edinburgh, Scotland / 1983

Part of Robert Adam’s most famous square, the principal rooms at no 3 had never been completed. The design of the new plaster ceiling was carried out in the spirit of Adam and constructed by master plasterers.

Gola Cottage
Conservation / Gola Island, Ireland / 1969 –

In 1969 Nicholas Groves-Raines bought this small cottage on Gola Island two miles off the Donegal Coast. Set within a clachan of now largely derelict houses, the cottage has over the years been conserved and very carefully modernised not to spoil its original charm. It now has running water and electricity and provides a wonderful bolthole for the whole family.