A TURF-CUTTING ceremony has marked the start of a £4.5 million bid to rescue the Hill House in Helensburgh from the ravages of the Scottish weather.

Ruth Currie, the granddaughter of Glasgow publisher Walter Blackie, for whom the Hill House was built in 1904, broke ground at the Charles Rennie Mackintosh masterpiece on Thursday.

Work on constructing an innovative chain mail 'box' around the building, to protect it from the wind and rain which have put the long-term future of the property and its unique interior features at risk, is expected to last until the late spring of 2019.

Ms Currie was joined by representatives of the National Trust for Scotland (NTS), who own the building, architects Carmody Groarke, who designed the 'box', and Robertson Construction, who will build it over the next six months.

The 'box' will allow the building to dry out over the next few years and buy time for further conservation work to save the world-famous property for future generations.

The structure will also feature walkways around the inside of the steel frame, enabling visitors to see the progress of conservation work at the house – as well as enjoying a new panoramic vantage point for views to the south over the Clyde estuary.

Richard Williams, general manager for Glasgow and West at the NTS, said: “Mackintosh was a pioneer and a visionary and we’re reflecting that spirit in our approach to saving his domestic masterpiece.

"This is a project that has been many, many years in the making and it is wonderful to be at the point that we’re now seeing work begin to save such a significant place.

"What we’re doing here is a rescue plan for the long term and will, we’re sure, protect this incredible building for future generations.”

Both the Hill House and the surrounding gardens will be closed to the public during construction of the 'box', but will reopen when building work is complete.