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, 11 June 2015

Caithness Stone

At this stage, two years into the project, one might have expected an element of weariness to have crept into the work on this project - but not a bit of it!  On the contrary - and perhaps it's helped by the long-awaited improvement in the weather - the pace of work at the castle over the week since I last visited has, if anything, accelerated.

I started today's visit on the battlements, where all the railings are now in place and workmen Chris and Richard were clearing up.  The railings down the stairs will be in place shortly.  As can be seen, the battlements are a perfect viewing point for the ships passing in the Sound of Mull - the Northern Lighthouse Board's Pharos was at anchor off the castle last night.

From the battlements the Caithness stone can be seen going in to the courtyard. It looks absolutely tremendous, but there have been some problems - witness the steps which haven't been finished.  This is because, despite careful packaging, some of the special blocks....

 ....have been damaged, possibly while being transported along our local winding, potholed road from the Corran ferry, a road which main contractor Mark Rutherford Thompson cheerfully describes as, "The worst road in Scotland."

This has been the fate of other materials being delivered to the site, the difference in this case being the reaction of Caithness Stone Industries Ltd, whose John Sutherland, on being informed of the problem, has gone out of his way to ensure that replacement blocks will be on site as quickly as possible.

Mark's seen here starting on the next stage in the courtyard, laying the 'cobbles' in its centre.  These, again, are the beautiful Caithness stone, but they've been supplied in small rectangular pieces - seen piled to Mark's right - each of which has to be shaped for the triangular courtyard by removing a wedge from two opposite sides.  Since there are some 2,000 pieces, this is a long job which Mark has speeded up by forming a wooden template to use on the circular saw.

Caithness stone is everywhere, both inside and out.  Last week this room, once the chapel and to be a bathroom, was having its floor laid. It's now grouted and complete, with the bath in place and the walls at the further, invisible, end ready to tile.

The same stone has also been laid throughout the ground floor of the west range, which will be the housekeeper's quarters.   This is the sitting room, the room beyond being the kitchen.

A week ago joiner Martin was working on the walls here and in the rooms above, but they are finished and ready for the plasterers next week, while he's moved on to....

....the attic room in the main, north range, where he's fitting the oak flooring.

Here's another milestone, with Tigger from R&B Electrical and Renewables back to start the second fix of the electrics.  He's also working in the attic room.

Finally, I walked down the finished steps to the viewing platform, where I sat for a few minutes enjoying the sunshine and the view, and admiring the towering magnificence of the south curtain wall.

1 comment:

  1. Now this is a First Class restoration job from start to finish. The saga of Mingary Castle should be a test case for Historic Scotland that could finally be applied to Castle Tioram, Conwry Castle in Wales, and Caerlaverock Castle. Could you see the idea of Caerlaverock Castle follow by Mingary Castle's example?