ONE of Argyll and Bute’s community success stories will be celebrated at a Doors Open Day event in Cove and Kilcreggan this weekend.

The trustees of Cove Burgh Hall, a volunteer group dedicated to the preservation and restoration of the valued community facility, will be marking the end of the most recent phase of the hall’s restoration by inviting the community to join them in the hall on Saturday, January 11 from 12 noon until 4pm to hear and see more about the details and achievement of the project, as well as future aspirations.

The five-month project came to a successful end when the scaffolding was removed on November 28 to reveal the beautifully restored fresh face of Cove Burgh Hall. All areas were returned for community use, including the community run library.

Alison Morrison, chair of the board of trustees which runs the facility, said: “This renovation and conservation project represents a significant achievement in the community ownership life of the hall.

“This first phase has made a sound contribution to conserving the heritage and functionality of the hall into the future.

“The challenge now is to raise funds for essential subsequent phases.”

READ MORE: Essential refurbishment work at Cove Burgh Hall gets under way

The work involved the replacement and improvement of corroded essential structural steelwork supporting the central facade windows; replacement of stonework damaged by a long term combination of weathering, inadequate structural support and historically poor repair; replacement and improvement of essential roof lead work; removal and replacement of rotten roof timbers and floor joists; replacement and improvement of gutters and down pipes; and the refurbishment of 12 central windows.

The project cost £207,000 and came in under budget. It was funded by Argyll and the Islands LEADER Programme, Historic Environment Scotland, Robertson Trust, Trusthouse Charitable Foundation and Cove Burgh Hall reserves. The professional team involved were ZM Architecture, Matheson, David Narro Associates, and Stratum Stonemasons.

The ‘Heritage and Aspirations’ event next Saturday will be open to all to drop in to hear and see more about the details and achievement of the project, and future aspirations, chat with CBH directors over coffee and cake, and take an informal guided tour of the hall.

The B-listed Cove Burgh hall is very much the heart of Cove and Kilcreggan not only as a beautiful historic building but as the social centre of a very vibrant community which was very nearly lost. It is home to more than 40 village groups catering for all ages and interests and the venue for a wide ranging programme of social events, from live theatre and concerts to the Hogmanay Ball and charity fund raising events, including the area’s flower show, the Sea Change festival, the Real Ale Festival every September and the Cove and Kilcreggan Book Festival each November.

READ MORE: Book fans pack out Cove Burgh Hall for annual festival

It’s all a far cry from 20 years ago, when there was a real risk of the hall being lost to the community altogether because of its poor condition and the growing cost of its upkeep.

A huge amount of work has been undertaken, much of it by a team of skilled volunteers from the community, which has secured the hall for the villages. However, much still needs to be done and fund raising is an on-going process.

The Scottish Baronial Burgh Hall was brainchild of Charles Cayzer, owner of the Clan shipping line who had a summer residence in Cove, and who, as Provost, initiated its building in 1891.

It was designed by Glasgow architect James Chalmers and was opened to the public as the “village” hall in 1893.

In February 1999 Argyll and Bute Council declared that, because of the high maintenance costs and low usage of the hall, they had no option but to close it for good.

A local action group was formed to prevent this happening, but despite their arguments the council continued to plan its closure.

Matters came to a head at a public meeting in the hall in February 2000, when Argyll and Bute officials and local councillors explained the reasons behind their plan to close the venue.

READ MORE: Pictures from RNLI fund-raiser at Cove Burgh Hall

At this point a group of residents, headed by the late Peter Holland, formed a committee to investigate the possibility of running the hall on a voluntary basis rather than seeing it closed.

Within two weeks, a deal had been arranged, and the new company directors were set to purchase Cove Burgh Hall from Argyll and Bute Council for £1.

The council also agreed to provide funds of £50,000 to the new company to assist with essential repair work.

Since then the hall has been run by unpaid volunteers and its has gone from strength to strength playing a central role in community life on the peninsula.

Click here to read more about the history of Cove Burgh Hall.

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