Strathaven and Glassford Community council has been working closely with South Lanarkshire Council and Historic Environment Scotland since 2019 on plans to repair the stonemasonry on Strathaven Castle to make it safe. Our primary concern when we first contacted SLC was the safety of the public as there had been several reports of falling masonry. We were also determined to ensure that the castle would be a key feature of Strathaven for many years to come.
Our first contact with the council, owners of Strathaven Castle, was very positive and a series of meetings were held, leading to SLC committing a budget of around £100,000 to carry out required remedial work. Historic Environment Scotland carried out a full survey leading to an understanding of the work involved in making the castle safe. We had to be careful in discussions as there was a risk that the damage to the structure was to such an extent as to cause its collapse. Fortunately that did not turn out to be the case.
A temporary fence was erected to ensure access was not possible, helping ensure the safety of the public. Discussions continued on how the work would be carried out and a planning application was submitted in early 2020 for a fence. Unfortunately this did not meet HES requirements and further work was undertaken on how the fence could safely be installed without any risk of archeological damage to the site. Revisions were made to HES satisfaction and a further planning application was scheduled to be submitted in March 2020.
Unfortunately that was the start of a global pandemic, resulting in significant delays due to work not being able to be carried out. Towards the end of 2020 initial online meetings were held between the Community Council and SLC, leading to an agreement in April 2020 on the format and layout of the fence. This will be installed from the entrance to Castle Park near the Town Mill along the base of the escarpment to the steps leading up to the castle. Fencing will also lead up the steps to meet the existing fencing at the top. THere will be a gate at the bottom of the steps and the entrance off Stonehouse Road will remain closed. Access to Castle Park will be restored once the boardwalk damaged by a tree fall is repaired. Having agreed the layout a planning application will be submitted by SLC to enable the work to proceed as soon as it is approved.
Once the fence has been erected work will start later this year (aiming for late summer/early autumn) on the remedial work to the stonemasonry. Once complete access to the castle will be restored as soon as it is deemed safe to do so. The plans also include foundations for three information boards around the castle grounds and potentially ducting for lighting to illuminate the castle at night. Discussions are continuing on funding for both these projects.
Following the necessary safety work being completed, Strathaven and Glassford Community Council has agreed with SLC that it will conduct detailed community consultation to assess the views on what should happen next. Any future work would be community funded and not financially supported by SLC. For that we need to know that the community sees spending significant amounts of public funds on the castle is justified and a community priority. That consultation will take place as soon as is practicably possible once the safety work is completed.
Strathaven and Glassford Community Council and South Lanarkshire Council are 100% behind the current phase of work and the community has been kept informed through our website at www.strathaven.org and through regular updates in Strathaven Echoes. We are determined to ensure that the remedial work is completed as planned enabling full access to the castle for the community and visitors. We are also ready to carry out the necessary community consultation to identify where the castle sits in terms of priorities for the future. We will continue to keep the community informed and advised on what happens next.