Built between 1754 and 1759, Dumfries House is a beautiful and historic stately home located in Ayrshire’s sprawling countryside.
The house and its estate are currently undergoing an extensive series of restoration works to upgrade, improve and replace key services in order to create a new functionality for the estate.
Prior to work taking place on Dumfries House, the building, its contents and the 200 acre estate were all set to be sold at auction, as Dumfries House Curator, Charlotte Rostek, explained:
“In 2007, after 2 failed attempts to find an owner for Dumfries House it was decided that the house, the state and its unique collection of furniture would be put up for sale. The collection included all of the original 18th Century furniture – bought and commissioned specifically for Dumfries House –which had survived intact for over 250 years.
“When, just three weeks before the sale at auction, the fundraising campaign had not managed to reach the asking price, HRH The Prince of Wales got involved by providing an investment of £20 million to save the house and its invaluable contents.”
Dumfries House Estate Manager, Oliver Middlemiss, added:
“At that point, The Great Steward of Scotland’s Dumfries House Trust was set up and the process of restoring the building, the collection and the wider estate began. The focus on this restoration is about opening up the house and the wider estate to the public in what HRH The Prince of Wales has referred to as a ‘heritage led regeneration’.
“At Dumfries House the whole focus is about welcoming people back on to the estate so that they can really enjoy this historic landmark. HRH The Prince of Wales hopes to use Dumfries House and the wider estate as a touching point for the regeneration of this part of Scotland.”
Work began on the restoration of Dumfries House in September 2010. Taylor and Fraser Limited is the main contractor for the mechanical and electrical works on Dumfries House, whilst Keith Ross of Buccleuch Rural Design is the architect and McGowan Miller Partnership is the quantity surveyor and CDM co-ordinator.
As part of the restoration of the house the services infrastructure, including plumbing, heating and lighting have all been renewed and carefully integrated. Kitchen facilities and visitor toilets also received a makeover, whilst plaster repairs, decoration and general maintenance work has also taken place.
Due to the historic significance of the building, all work on Dumfries House is being conducted very sensitively, however as the fabric of the house is in very good condition external work is being kept to a minimum. Only the ageing formal steps at the front of the house have required significant repair, elsewhere a rigorous maintenance programme ensures that all areas are kept in good condition.
With the bulk of the construction work on Dumfries House already complete, a number of additional projects will continue to take place on the site and will be completed in the near future. These include a cook school, a residential outdoor activity centre, an education centre, traditional skills workshops and artist’s studios.
Of those recently completed and on-going projects, Sam Templeton is involved with a number of the operations and is the main contractor on the refurbishment of estate bridges and the estate’s extensive walled garden. Hope Homes Scotland Ltd are heavily involved with a number of projects on the estate as well as building houses at Knockroon, a sustainable mixed-use development that will serve as a model community for Scotland.
In addition, work completed on the Dumfries House estate includes the conversion of the coach house into a cafe, and the transformation of an old stable building into a bistro and conference facility. The old home farm steading buildings have recently been refurbished with conversion of the original farmhouse into a six-bedroom guest house in addition to improvements to existing holiday let cottages.
Keith Ross was the architect on the guest house/holiday cottage project with Taylor and Fraser acting as principal contractor.
Keith Ross, Buccleuch Rural Design, said:
“Dumfries House Estate is a beautiful place to work, with the highest quality of craftsmanship evident in all the buildings that we work with. The work that we are undertaking will ensure that this level of craftsmanship is maintained whilst at the same time introducing the necessary improvements to enhance its beauty and extend its life. “