Monday, 23 May 2011

Thursday 19th May

Today we had our picture taken for the Campbeltown Courier.

The History of the Old School

The B listed School was built in the 1840’s as part of a group which included two churches, one for Gaelic speakers with 1,500 seats and one for English speakers with 900 seats and two school houses one for the teaching of trades and this one for general education. The two churches were replaced in 1867 by the existing Tartan Kirk designed by James Boucher which now houses the Heritage Centre and at some time the trade school was demolished. The School’s construction came about as a result of the wider “disruption”, the schism within the established Church of Scotland which led to the formation of the Free Church of Scotland. Education was an important part of the philosophy of the new Free Church and this building, along with the Trade School, provided free education for local children.

The School originally comprised one open space and to ward off the cold, there were 3 fireplaces and a system of heated pipes running around the ceiling. Architecturally it is relatively plain but its Tudor Gothic style is dignified and self assured. The building did not house the school for long but was employed as a Sunday School for many years.

The Old School finally fell out of use in the 1980’s and in 1997 it was gifted to the Kintyre Amenity Trust but lack of resources has prevented them from undertaking necessary repairs and putting the building back into use.

In 2007 Argyll & Bute Council secured funding towards conservation led regeneration in Campbeltown and since then work has been underway to develop a project that will see the Old School repaired and converted for use as bunkhouse accommodation.

The proposals for the Old School Bunkhouse

The work now underway will see the historic fabric of the Old School repaired and adapted for use as a 16 bed bunkhouse. Repairs will include the replacement of the rotten roof timbers and re-roofing in natural slate to match the original. Masonry repairs and re-pointing, refurbishment of the windows and replacement of those that have been lost, a new interior fit out and an extension to the rear of the building that will increase the living accommodation. The building will be brought up to modern standards of insulation and new roof lights will bring natural light into the kitchen area to reduce the need for artificial lighting there. The fit out will include showers, a kitchen and drying room and the bunkhouse will be fully wheelchair accessible.

The running of the bunkhouse will be let out by the Kintyre Amenity Trust through an open tender process which will take place later this year. This new business opportunity will enhance tourist facilities in Campbeltown providing a type of accommodation not previously available in the town or in south Kintyre.

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