Blackburn House, Blackburn, West Lothian
The project to restore this 'A' listed house as a cultural hub for the area achieved Practical Completion on 25 May 2008.
If you would like to see the result for yourself do come along to DOORS OPEN DAY on 6th September 2009 (11am to 4pm).
Blackburn House is situated outside the villages of Blackburn and Seafield, halfway between Edinburgh and Glasgow. The only 'A' Listed Building in the area, it is both a significant Country House and a large farmhouse. Built by George Moncrieff in 1772, it is a five-bayed pedimented block with quadrant walls and hipped roof pavilions, composed in a local Lothian sandstone. It has exceptional quality ornamental plasterwork in the Rococo style intact on the ground floor. Moncrieff had made his fortune as a Sugar Plantation Owner in Antigua and had returned to Scotland, accompanied by his wife around 1768. He acquired the 670 acres Blackburn Estate in 1769 and commenced building the house.
Moncrieff spend some 20 years living at Blackburn quite frugally, during which time he founded the modern town of Blackburn, building mills and invested in the New Inn. He left the House and Estate to his nephew who sold the Estate. By the 20th Century the Estate had dwindled to 120 acres and the House fell into a long progressive decline and was finally abanoned in 1970.
In 1992 the House, Farm and small area of land were passed to the newly created Blackburn House Preservation Trust, who established a Training Centre for traditional skills and hoped to progressively restore the House via its training schemes. Unfortunately, by 1995 the Trust floundered and the Bank of Scotland took possession of the property as heritable creditors. Luckily some of the work carried out by the Trust secured critical parts of the building for the next few years.
Cockburn Conservation Trust (CCT)
CCT took up the challenge and identified a sustainable scheme of restoration for the building around 1997. By 1979 an application had been submitted for HLF Funding, but this had to be withdrawn as no credible long term Business Plan had been identified. A new scheme was developed working with Caledonian Arthouse (now renamed Blackburn Arthouse) for the creation of a "Centre for the Creative Industries in West Lothian". A further application was placed with HLF in 2002 and a Stage 1 Pass was achieved. Further applications were made to Historic Scotland, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) (through East of Scotland European Programme), Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and Lothian (SEEL) and West Lothian Council. Grant offers from the bodies were confirmed in 2005 and Hunter & Clark were appointed the Main Contractor.
Blackburn Arthouse, who are involved in the creative industries, become tenants in the building with effect from 1 June 2008. Blackburn House will provide permanent and short-term offices and facilities for hire as well as conferencing and events space, educational end training facilities, and more excitingly will function as a film location. An Interpretation Project, is being housed in one of the Doocots, and will provide visitors with information on the various aspects of the house restoration and history. (This will be completed in the near future)
We are pleased to announce that Blackburn House has been awarded an Architectural Award 2008 by The Georgian Group at their Ceremony in London in November 2008 - for Restoration of a Georgian Country House.
In addition, the project has subsequently collected two further awards: Edinburgh Architectural Association - Design Awards 2009 (Conservation/Regeneration Award Winner) and from RICS Scotland Awards 2009 Blackburn has been Commended in the Category of Building Conservation.
The Formal Handover Ceremony took place on 22 September 2008. Linda Fabiani (Cultural Minister) officially opened the building.
(Photo taken by Eddie Anderson, Communications Officer, West Lothian Council)
If you are in the Creative Industries and are interested in renting space within Blackburn House - please contact Blackburn Arthouse directly - please see their Website (below) for Contact particulars and fuller detail of spaces available for rent.
For more details of the project - please check our Publicity Sheet below.
The photos below depict the completed exterior and interior of the building:
Photos of the completed building taken by Angus Bremner.
The Trust would like to take this opportunity to thank the following bodies for their funding support towards this project:
Historic Scotland (£600,000)
West Lothian Council (£72,000 plus sponsorship of ERDF Grant)
Architectural Heritage Fund (£254,000 Cash Flow Loan)
The Key Personnel involved in this restoration were:
CCT Project Organiser - George McNeill
Architects - Simpson & Brown
Main Contractor - Hunter & Clark
Please see an Evening News Article on the Restoration of Blackburn House.
Press here to down load file
The restoration of this House is a classic example of the type of scheme that can only be delivered by a Building Preservation Trust - due to costs, timescales, patience, the need to arrange a consortium funding arrangement and the need for restoration skills.