Generations of children, including me, fell in love with nature at the Edinburgh Academy’s field centre Blair House in Glen Doll, Angus. When the Academy had to sell it in 2014, and no-one else was in a position to rescue it, there was almost no question that my family and I should buy it, refurbish it and reopen it as a field centre for educational and environmental groups.
In May 2016 I had just finished refurbishing it, but a few weeks before opening, a fire which spread from the neighbouring property burned it to the ground. The rebuild is beginning and I hope to open new Blair House before the end of 2017.
You can follow the story and see pictures of the rebuild in the articles below. Blair House also has its own Facebook page where you can follow the latest updates.
Like all the best grand designs, Blair House has had one delay after another over the summer: the special heat exchange system took a long time to come from Germany, the drought over the summer halted the turf wall as it was too hard to cut, and some eager bats moved in to the roof … Continue reading “Turf, clay and timber”
Despite a huge amount of time lost to snow, Blair House is making good progress and this week I arrived to find the roof going on. Inside, my new heat exchange system had arrived, which should allow the air in the building to stay warm and fresh largely through passive solar gain and the people … Continue reading “Roofed”
It’s now possible to see the whole shape of Blair House for the first time. This is a nervous moment for client and architect: will our structure look like an awful blot on the landscape? To our huge relief, no it doesn’t: it looks as if it’s always been there, as if the old Blair … Continue reading “First visit to the first floor”
I went up on 21 December to see progress on Blair House before Christmas. The ground floor is up which is very exciting. We had hoped to get the first floor and roof on before Christmas. But after being delayed by weather, the builder Barry decided not to risk leaving it half finished over the … Continue reading “First floor rises”
It has been a very long journey, but after a great deal of planning and work by architects Tom Morton and Oliver Goddard, work has begun at last on New Blair House. It has almost immediately been delayed again by snow, but work is still being done on the wooden construction in builder Barry Greenhill’s workshop so watch … Continue reading “New Blair House begins”
I had an exciting meeting today with David Knott, curator of collections at the Botanics; my friend Dr Alan Elliott also at the Botanics; Henry Marsh, former head of English at the Edinburgh Academy and Glen Doll botanist of 40 years; and Tom Morton of Arc Architects who is going to build the new Blair House. We … Continue reading “Meeting the Botanists”
There’s one article I failed to post here, which made it on to the Facebook page, which was this. I hope everybody who knows Blair House has heard this news already, but what was more astonishing than the news was the little figure at the end which shows the number of people who read the story: … Continue reading “Blair House Redux”
We took a new route to Blair House this week, coming round north of Kirriemuir, which gave us a star Macintosh-Patrickesque view straight up the glen. What I didn’t know taking this photo was that somewhere on top of that ridge of hills, Barry the builder was taking the opportunity to walk the 15 miles up … Continue reading “Harling and moss”
I have dragged myself away from my friend Lucy Lawrie’s new story, The Last Day I Saw Her, to write a much-needed update on Blair House. Lucy was my great Blair House childhood friend and we have been longing to get back there together for years. And The Last Day I Saw Her, I discover, … Continue reading “Memories and Anticipations”
It’s taken 18 months, at least 7 experts (the Bat and Freshwater Pearl Mussel ecologists were my favourites), at the serious illnesses of 2 of the team to get to this point, but Blair House is at last being refurbished. The contractor is Barry Greenhill of Forfar and he is due to finish in early … Continue reading “Refurbishment underway”