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, 28 January 2016
An End in Sight
As is so typical of Ardnamurchan, the weather has been highly variable over the past couple of weeks, with some fine, clear days and some impressive gales. The workmen were rocked around in their caravans on Monday/Tuesday night by a gale that hit hurricane force on the north coast, and they're in for another rough ride over the next 24 hours. The trouble is that the gales leave all sorts of problems behind them: for example, the mobile 'phone network is down again, and the telephones have packed up. For builder Mark Rutherford Thompson, there's little point in carrying on with the sea wall - high tides have coincided with these westerly gales - so the lads who were working on it have gone home for a break.
Despite all the problems, progress has continued to be rapid and, as a result, there's some very good news: the castle itself will be handed back to the Mingary Castle Preservation & Restoration Trust next Friday, when the first of the furnishings which have been in store will also start to arrive.
So today's visit saw impressive steps forward indoors. Almost all the beautiful oak panel work is now in place, leaving the joiners....
....to concentrate on a mass of finishing-off jobs like fixing the brass fittings to the doors. These are great quality, as one would expect from the suppliers, a very old, family-run Bradford hardware firm, H Ellis & Son of Joseph Street, which was established in 1899.
This picture shows the two joiners, the two Martins, who have done the vast majority of the joinery work on the panelling, with 'fettler' Richard at back left. Those who have the good fortune to visit the castle will be able to enjoy the superb quality of their workmanship for years to come.
But they have plenty still to do. At centre of this picture is the main door of the castle with, behind it, the smaller door which will go in at the water gate. Since both will be subjected to the very best of Ardnamurchan weather for years to come, at present they're being painted with layer upon layer of varnish.
To the right is the door from the breakfast room into the main kitchen, with all the chinaware still wrapped on the shelves, and to the left are the big glass doors which lead out to the courtyard.
Three other trades are also working hard to the deadline. The maze of wires and pipes associated with the electrical side, the alarm system, and the fire breather system all now come neatly into this little cupboard under the stairs.
Another trade was hard at work in the main room in the West Range. Sandra Jeffrey, who is responsible for all the crewel-work curtains and hangings, has about three weeks work remaining. She's seen here working on one of the hangings for the four poster in the second bedroom in the North Range.
There are still one or two other things which have to be completed. The lift mechanism for the dungeon has to go in - the dungeon will then become the castle's wine cellar - and, although the drawbridge has been fitted, there's still more work to be done on it.
It'll be a couple of months or so before the castle opens for its first guests but the main build, after almost three challenging years, really is approaching completion.