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, 13 August 2015

An Ants' Nest of Activity

The castle was an ants' nest of activity this morning, with several trades on site, all contractors we've seen before but, in amongst them, several new faces. This is J-J John-Jack Dagnall who, although he's English, lives in the Dordogne and has just completed his two-year initial builder's training and apprenticeship in France. His is a 'Compagnons' qualification, the French equivalent of 'City and Guilds', and he's here to get some experience on an older building.  J-J is working with builders Ashley Thompson.

To add to the international flavour, Sebastian Kozlowski comes from Poznan, Poland, and is working for the painters Mark Galley & Sons. He's one of five painters on site, and is working in the rooms in the west range, while....

....Andrew Green is one of several working in the north range.  He's seen here in the study, but they've also had the tricky job of painting between the beams in the rooms which have had their beautiful panelling installed.

The lads from R&B Electrical & Renewables are back starting on the second fix of the electrics. This is another new face, Craig Harrison, who is working in the attic rooms but they won't be able to do much in the panelled rooms until more of the floor skirtings arrive.

Joiner Martin Theaker's work on the shutters in the dining room - seen here being admired by Mark Rutherford-Thompson - is complete, and the finished result is superb. The oak shutters move beautifully, and disappear into the panelling on either side of the window reveal. The job isn't quite finished: as can be seen, an oak veneer has yet to be fitted to cover the plywood exposed when the shutters are closed.

Martin is now working his way round the other eight window reveals that are to have shutters fitted. It's slow, painstaking work, with the result that he has only completed the two in the dining room, though he's started on three more.

Martin Chandler is the other sub-contracted joiner on site. He was previously up here with his brother Mark's company which fitted some of the slate roofs and did most of the roof leadwork. Martin is working on the 'dentals' which go all round the cornice in the panelled rooms. Some of the ones he has fitted can be seen behind his head, each separated from the next by a length of oak cornicing. The distance between each dental has to be calculated so that there is a dental above each vertical 'leg' of the panelling, and every dental is a slightly different length so, as can be seen, they're delivered far too long and have to be cut to precise size.  Since there are some 200 dentals in each of the big rooms, this too is taking a great deal of time - but it's well worth it as the finished effect is breathtaking.

As different sections of oakwork are delivered from Gary Bibby Joinery, they're fitted. So this week the short lengths of staircase have arrived and are now in place. Once again, each tread has been carefully covered to prevent the oak being scratched.

Damien the stonemason has almost finished the walls which separate the car park and formal garden from the moat, so he's now working....

....with Richard down the steep bank to the west of the castle, building a retaining wall which runs from below the castle entrance gate to the corner of the car park. Once this lower one is completed, there's another, higher stone wall which will run back to the edge of the car park.

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