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, 24 September 2015

Hanging Structures

There was a distinct chill in the weather this morning as I turned in between the newly erected stone gate posts and walked down into the car park, where Chris was busy building what looked like a scaffold at the far side of the ornamental gardens - the sort of scaffold on which the MacIains who once owned Mingary used to hang people.
But it was no such thing. Damien the stonemason who, with the help of site mascot Sophie, was working on the wall to the right of the castle entrance, needs some protection from the rain while he....

....rebuilds the stone door surround which the archaeologists rescued from the moat. This is the one which was scorched when the forces of Alasdair MacColla MacDonald besieged the castle in 1645 and burned down the main door - see earlier story here. The arch it forms will be the central feature of a drystone wall to be built along the south side of the formal garden. JJ Dagnall, seen here, was helping Chris with the scaffolding structure.

Damien has been busy. The stone plinth described in last week's blog is finished and awaits the artwork for which it has been built.

Also very busy have been the two electricians, Tigger on the left and Brett, who had just turned on the lights for the first time in the west wing.

The difficult task of hanging the chandelier in the breakfast room was completed while I was away. The difficulty arose partly from the ceiling being sloping but mainly because of the weight of the cast iron, which meant the builders had to dig through the plasterwork ceiling to find a secure anchor point.

James Travers from Emtec Fire Systems was on site today to commission the high pressure water mist system that is being fitted in the main building's kitchen. In the event of a fire, a monitor on the ceiling triggers a pump, seen in the cupboard, which delivers a high pressure water/air mixture to....

....two nozzle units situated just above the worktops. These produce a fine mist which fills the room and effectively blankets the fire and starves it of oxygen.  Read more about the system and its advantages here.

Martin Theaker continues to work on the oak panelling in the north range, but took a moment out to demonstrate a sample of the crewel work panelling which will run above the dado rail in the rooms on the first and second floors, and above the stairs. Crewel work is a type of embroidery, and the lengths of cloth are fixed over padding on a plywood base before being hung on the wall, a job which Martin will be doing.

The oak panelling and door surrounds, modelled here by builder Mark Rutherford-Thompson, continue to go in steadily but there's a long way to go before the project reaches completion.

Many thanks to Mingary Castle managers Holly and Chris Bull for taking care of the blog while I was away.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Progress is a wonderful thing.

We saw classic west coast weather today and we should have expected the clear skies to turn dark but instead we got soaked during our visit as we had forgotten our coats...

but a bit of bad weather is not enough to slow progress. There is now a raised plinth in the centre of the garden.........

and the gate posts are now in and look fantastic. They still have one more to instal for the main gate. The pedestrian gate is ready to be hung after Damian has done another great job of the surrounding walling.

The next part of the joinery is appearing as the door linings are on site and being made up to be fitted....

and there is a new door in the kitchen, its great to see it has glass panels to let in the light as there are no windows!

The profile of the door casements and all the panelling have been specifically designed for Mingary by the architect and taylor made showing the high level of detail going into the building....

All the Master Bedroom door casements have been fitted and the room is now ready for the fabric panels to be fitted.

The electricians from R&B Electrics are back on site and here is Bret testing lighting through out the castle before.......

.....going on to add the final fixtures. We love the pattern these cast on the ceiling on the top floor.

With so many builders and tradesmen on site it is always a pleasure to see how much care and the work they put into everything, even the tidying up. The broom was moving so fast I couldn't get a picture that wasn't blurred.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Make hay while the sunshines

So today on site everybody seems to be taking advantage of the late 'indian' summer we have been enjoying these past few days. Not to be left out we decided to give you an update on outdoor activities at the castle.

Starting at the top of the castle (with the sun beaming) I found JP (site manager, one of the directors at Ashley Thompson) topping off the harling on the chimneys. This will protect the stone from absorbing all the water when it rains.

I found Damien, our resident stone mason, doing a great job laying the garden paths, which are cut from the same Cathness stone that has been used throughout the castle.

This is an amazing stone arch which was discovered in the moat during excavation and is going to be re-assembled.......

creating a beautiful entrance to the new garden......

where there will be native hedging surrounding the garden, that is to the North of the castle, with lawns in quadrants and flower beds established later once the hedging is there to protect them from the winds and sea spray.

Finally the first of the two huge (2m tall) gate posts have arrived and are soon to be in position ready for when the gates arrive.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

A Walk-Round with the Manager

We're in a run of cool northerly winds which are bringing bright sunny intervals and light showers, but also the first feel of autumn, so it was good to be able to walk dry-foot down to the castle along the newly-laid tarmac surface. I like the way the castle seems to hide behind the oak trees until one is almost upon it.

I accompanied Holly Bull who, with husband Chris, will be managing Mingary Castle once it is handed over by the builders in a few weeks time. She's seen here talking to builder Mark Rutherford-Thompson. One of the areas that's still rather inaccessible is the upper floor of the west wing, where there is....

....a bright and airy bedroom with, beyond it.... en suite bathroom.  Areas of the castle like this will be available to bed & breakfast clients as well as those looking for a longer-term stay.

Holly and Chris are busy working on the Mingary Castle website - there's a holding page here - as well as dealing with all the furniture and fittings which are beginning to arrive. For example, Holly was discussing with Mark Thompson a chandelier which is to be fitted in the breakfast room which lies between the east and north ranges.

We admired the radiators have begun to go in to the north range. The one seen here is one of those in the attic rooms, and all will be run off the wood chip boiler. As Holly pointed out, visitors will be able to sit on the windowsill to enjoy the view across the Sound of Mull to Tobermory while keeping their feet warm.

Behind the radiator is the first of the oak skirting boards which are being fitted throughout the range. Working on this was....

.... joiner Martin Theaker whom we watched as he cut a length of skirting into which he had made 'windows' for the electrical fittings.

Where the joiners have completed a job the electricians follow. Tony Tigger Peacock, one of the electricians from R&B Electrical & Renewables, was fitting sockets into and above the units completed last week by local joiner Ian Cargill in the small kitchen/utility in the east range.