‘Growing urgency’ at Rothesay’s Winter Garden

Rothesay's ornate Winter Garden was built by the Saracen Foundry in Glasgow and opened in 1924. Today it houses Bute's visitor information centre and cinema.
Rothesay's ornate Winter Garden was built by the Saracen Foundry in Glasgow and opened in 1924. Today it houses Bute's visitor information centre and cinema.

A Bute businessman has offered to carry out a free examination and report on the condition of Rothesay’s historic Winter Garden.

Heritage engineering consultant Jim Mitchell says the building’s owners, VisitScotland, could then use his assessment to bid for cash to carry out repairs to the ornate cast-iron structure.

In a letter published in the August 21 issue of The Buteman, Mr Mitchell outlines his concern for the condition of the building - and in particular its outer metal shell - and says he believes it is time for major work to secure its long-term future.

“I have written about this before,” Mr Mitchell says, “but this time the growing urgency for action forces me to be a bit more frank.

“I have worked on many cast iron structures throughout the country, and I am clear that (at least) the shell of this most beautiful iron and steel building is now at risk.

“A closer look reveals a significant number of the decorative skin panels and some members on the front elevation are deteriorating and that repairs were carried out over failed metal.

“It is a general rule that what is revealed indicates much more will need to be addressed which remains as yet unseen. Sadly a repaint will resolve nothing, as such deterioration will continue apace below the cosmetics.

“Action must include significant dismantling of the outer skin and, if done properly will extend the life of the structure considerably.”

Work by Mr Mitchell’s company on the heritage restoration of the ornate Grand Fountain in Paisley has already earned accolades in the Saltire ‘My Place’ Awards and the Museums and Heritage Awards; the project has also been shortlisted for further awards from the Institute of Conservation and the Institute of Mechanical Engineers.