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, 6 August 2015

Grand Staircase Installed

The stone wall building machine was still at it when I arrived at the castle yesterday morning on another damp day - not that the weathers seems to affect the cheerfulness of those working there, nor does it slow the pace of work.

It was good to meet Paul Beamer, the boss of Proficient Plumbing of Whitby, the company responsible for the plumbing in the building. He was in the process of commissioning the underfloor heating, powered by the biomass boiler in the moat, and was pleased with how it was performing. He's also here to start the second fix on the rest of the plumbing. He has three kitchens, four bathrooms and all the radiators to do - he's seen here in the attic bathroom, which he's almost finished.

To get to the attic I had to climb the newly-installed grand staircase. When finished, it'll be a great feature of the building.  The three main sections arrived at the end of last week and had to be taken down the new road to the foreshore, lifted up along the viewing platform steps, through the watergate, through the front door of the north range, and then raised into place. Since each section weighs over a tonne - they're solid oak - the process required eight men working through the weekend and, within the building, temporary scaffolding and a block and tackle. Once in place, each tread was covered with boarding to protect it.

The oak panelling for the main rooms of the north range is steadily arriving. Martin Theaker has started the job of fitting the panels into the window reveals - one is seen beyond him in this picture, which shows him working on its sill. Each reveal is a different size, so its panelling has to be built individually. Martin is seen cutting two notches to enable the sill to fit. When asked whether he worried about making a mistake he answered calmly, "No," but admitted he had made one or two small ones, which he'd easily fixed. Personally, I would have been in a cold sweat doing this.

The joinery company which is building this beautiful panelling, Gary Bibby Joinery of Middlesbrough, has sent detailed instructions on how the reveal panels should be fitted, but almost every section needs some adjustment....

....all of which takes time. When Martin tried to fit the sill, it just wouldn't go in, even with Mark Rutherford Thompson's help, so a bit more, very delicate adjustment, was needed.

As I left it was raining again, but wallbuilder Damien was still at work. Here, he's building the low stone wall round the top of the biomass boiler house. There's another layer of concrete to go on it, then it will either be gravelled or have turf laid across it.

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