The Mingary Castle restoration blog was written by Jon Haylett, who lives in the local village of Kilchoan. Now that restoration is almost complete Holly and Chris Bull will take over to report on bringing the Castle back to life.
Thursday, 21 May 2015
The Scaffolding Comes Down
As promised, the scaffolding started to come down on Monday, and most of the team have been hard at work on it ever since. Sadly, while the weather was fine for the first couple of days, it has turned wet today.
Scaffolder John Forsyth is back on site working with Ashley-Thompson's men to make sure everything comes down quickly and safely. He'll be here for about ten days, by which time he hopes to have the main part of the structure down to ground floor level. It took him fourteen weeks to put the whole thing up, and it'll not take four to bring it down.
So far, there haven't been any serious problems - bearing in mind that this first started to go up in July 2013. Some of the bolts on the clips have rusted - this one isn't anything like as bad as some of those at the base of the structure which have been bathed by the sea twice a day - and they've had to be cut away using an angle grinder.
Perhaps surprisingly, there have been bigger problems freeing the threads of these 'band and plate' couplers, some of which have required a three-foot steel bar and a lot of effort to move. Even more surprisingly, John describes the scaffolding boards as being in better condition than when they went up, having weathered gently in two years of mild Atlantic airstream.
Everything's coming down the way it went up - by hand. It's a process that isn't helped by the wet weather, which makes poles and boards slippery. Then each length of scaffold pole, each type of clip, each coupler, each board is organised into standard parcels to go away by road, a total of six articulated truck-loads.
This was the last opportunity to climb the scaffolding to visit a couple of my favourite places. This is the cannonball which is lodged in the west curtain wall, accessed on the scaffold's second 'lift'. I like the way the stonemasons have given it a neat alcove in which to spend its next 700 years.
This was also a chance to take a last close look at stonemason Damien's handiwork on the lancet windows, and the neat little leaded windows carefully made for each of them.
Not everyone is excited about the scaffolding coming down. This pipit has a nest somewhere in the castle's stonework, is busy feeding a growing family, and has found the scaffolding perfect as a landing spot.
With most of the workmen dealing with the scaffolding, progress has slowed indoors. Joiner Martin Theaker, seen here in the master bedroom on the second floor, has just taken delivery of the next consignment of oak panelling from Gary Bibby Joinery, but it needs to stand for a few days for it to 'acclimatise' before it's fitted to the walls. 'H' is laying Caithness stone flags in the hallway at the bottom of the stairwell, and the plumbers have returned to put underfloor heating into the last of the rooms in the East and West Ranges.