The Winter Gardens Discovery Centre in Rothesay has reopened to the public following renovation work costing more than £500,000.
Significant external repair work was carried out at the Category A-Listed building, including replacement of roof coverings, overhaul of windows and installation of new light fittings. Additionally, metal panels and fixtures were replaced and the exterior of the building redecorated.
The work, totalling £510,000, was funded by VisitScotland as owners of the building and a £200,000 grant from the Rothesay Townscape Heritage (TH) programme.
Phase 2 of the Rothesay TH project is a five-year heritage-led regeneration project that will allow property owners to safeguard historic buildings and shopfronts while also developing skills and hosting events celebrating the island of Bute’s heritage.
The partnership project – which has been running since October 2017 and will continue through to September 2022 – is funded by £1,888,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF); £500,000 from Historic Environment Scotland (HES); £200,000 from Argyll and Bute Council; £70,249 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE); £65,800 from the LEADER Programme; and £21,500 from Paths for All. The total project fund amounts to £2,746,049.
Councillor Aileen Morton,leader of Argyll and Bute Council and Policy Lead for Economic Development, said: “Residents of Bute will notice the difference in the Winter Gardens exterior and I’m sure it will also catch the eye of any visitors to the island.
“It’s great that such a beloved and well-known building has had the work it needed to secure its long-term future.
“At a time when finances everywhere are tight, it is encouraging that the council has been able to secure funding that will enhance Rothesay through the TH project, allowing us to help grow local businesses and the economy.”
David Adams McGilp, VisitScotland’s regional director, said: “We are delighted to see the Winter Gardens Discovery Centre reopen having been restored beautifully through significant investment.
“The Category A-Listed building acts as a gateway to the rest of the vibrant Isle of Bute and our friendly and knowledgeable Visitor Services Advisors working in our iCentre there have continued to offer full information provision for visitors to the island since the work began in September, and look forward to welcoming more as the renovation is completed.”
Other projects on Bute that are benefiting from the Rothesay TH scheme include the Bute Island Alliance’s The Bank: Enterprise Space, a popup shop and co-working space to support the growth potential of local businesses. This is operating within the premises at the former Clydesdale Bank.
Additionally, a contractor has been appointed for one of the priority repair projects. Work at 73 -77 Victoria Street will see substantial renovations made to a prominent tenement on the seafront.
Also, the assessment process for expressions of interest for the TH’s project’s Shopfront Grant Programme has been completed, with five business owners invited to move on to the application stage.
Provost Len Scoullar, a Bute councillor, added: “There’s a lot going on in Bute, with this Townscape Heritage scheme just one example. There’s also the refurbishment of the Rothesay Pavilion, the work at Rothesay Pier, our drive for a Rural Growth Deal that will benefit all of Argyll and Bute, and our lobbying for better digital coverage. This is all part of the council’s work to build a successful future for Bute and we look ahead with ambition and confidence for the island’s future.”