Castle Grounds Update – June/July 2019

At the June meeting, Trustees were updated on progress with the Castle Grounds Regeneration by Project Officer, Jo Bagrie.

The first phase of works is on schedule to be completed prior to the Hebridean Celtic Festival, which opens on July 17th. Paths in the core project area will shortly receive their final surface dressing, including measures to avoid scouring during periods of heavy rainfall. Work has also begun to upgrade the Shoe Burn path.

A great deal of progress has also been made in the area known as the private, or sunken, garden. Here the stonework around the steps and terracing is in the process of being reinstated, and the paths resurfaced. Contractors have just located the original plinth for the sundial (pictured) and it is hoped that this can also be restored to its former glory – the dial itself is in storage in Stornoway until such time as it can be put in place. It is anticipated that the work in the gardens should be largely complete by late summer.

Two iconic structures within the Castle Grounds – the Porter’s Lodge, and the Boatman’s Tower – are also included in the project. Both are undergoing extensive repairs, including repointing of the stonework. A coat of arms specialist has examined the crest on the Porter’s Lodge, in order to determine the best method of restoration. Work on both these buildings should be finalised by the end of the year.

Trustees agreed to the removal of all waste bins from the Castle Grounds, as part of the Stornoway Trust’s ongoing commitment to environmental improvement, and in keeping with the example set by some of the nation’s best-known attractions – eg Haddo Country Park in Aberdeenshire, and parts of Snowdonia. As a much loved public amenity, the Castle Grounds is an area in which residents of the Stornoway Estate and beyond, feel some justifiable pride. Consequently, Trustees expressed confidence that the decision to designate the Grounds as a litter-free area would receive strong public support. This was supported by the belief that the time currently spent by Trust employees on emptying bins could be better deployed on working to enhance and nurture the asset that the Castle Grounds represent to the entire community.

An online campaign, designed to inform islanders and visitors alike of this plan, will be run by the Trust via its website and social media account. This will coincide with Love Parks Week, ( 12 – 21 July), and is a celebration of parks and their importance to local communities across the UK.

The project is being part-funded by the Heritage Fund and Historic Environment Scotland.