Letters to the Editor: August 21, 2015

Send your letters to the editor to news@buteman.com.
Send your letters to the editor to news@buteman.com.

Included in this week’s Letters to the Editor are thoughts on Rothesay’s inclusion in a second Townscape Heritage Intitiative, PS Waverley’s pricing structure, and comments directed at the thief who stole an elderly island resident’s wheelchair.

If you’d like to comment on any of the topics raised, or any subject of interest to Bute, drop an email to news@buteman.com by 5pm on Monday at the latest - though as always, the sooner we hear from you, the better are your chances of seeing your views in print.

Please keep your letters as brief as you can, and remember to include your name and address for publication. We also need a daytime contact phone number in case we need to check any details at short notice, though this will not be printed.


‘Winter Garden should be in second THI’


It’s great news that the Heritage Lottery Fund will consider a second round of the THI. I hope that the “other” Category A listed building on the front is now considered as part of that.

As a conservation engineer on my own turf, it concerns me to watch the accelerating physical deterioration of our fabulous Winter Garden’s outer metal shell. I have written about this before but this time the growing urgency for action forces me to be a bit more frank.

As it deteriorates, uninformed historic repairs are revealing themselves. This is no reflection on previous efforts but it is time for major work.

Without getting overly technical, the use of steel to repair a cast-iron structure can cause complex problems of interactive corrosion and it is apparent now that this is becoming widespread.

This A listed building is one of only two similar structures in the UK by the famous Saracen Foundry and is by far the most elegant.

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.

Through these pages we are making an offer to the owners to examine the structure and write a detailed report on its condition at no charge, which they could go on to use as part of a major funding bid.

This is what I do for a living. If VisitScotland wishes, we can ask Historic Scotland to send over their ironwork expert to have a look with me.

As VisitScotland purchased the building at a peppercorn sum, it might be that they would want to divest themselves of the responsibility for its future. A local trust could be set up/used to do this and continue to allow them use.

There are many possibilities but it is important that action is taken soon.

Finally I hope very much that the THI will consider including this building in any future round, but as with other projects, the owners would need to come on board.

Jim S. Mitchell

St Ninian’s cottage, Straad

Waverley’s pricing unfair on Rothesay


On Thursday, August 13, it being the first day of summer, my wife and I decided to take a trip on the Waverley.

We decided on a visit to Largs, as it left plenty of time for a lunch and a stroll around the shops.

I stopped off at the Discovery Centre to buy tickets, but they are unable to sell tickets on the day of travel and I was told that I would have to buy them on board.

We boarded along with the smattering of other passengers and the good ship sailed.

It was a beautiful, calm day for the journey and I made my way to the purser’s office to buy my tickets.

After quite some time the office opened and the queue moved slowly forward.

Having eventually paid my £44 (I get £2 off for being of advancing years) for two tickets, I re-emerged into the sunshine to hear the announcement: “We are now approaching Largs.”

I was aware of the price before I boarded, but what I was not aware of was that, had I travelled from Glasgow to Largs, it would have cost me £21 each, or from Greenock or Dunoon, it would have been £19 each.

Why £23 from Rothesay? Is this an extra tax we pay for the pleasure of living on the island - or is the Waverley trying to price out the Rothesay stop in the name of fuel saving?

I wrote to Waverley Excursions and got a very weak answer from them, saying that cruising time was not the only criteria in pricing. They also told me that I should have booked online or through their local agent (not available), as in doing this I would not have missed the outbound journey whilst queuing.

I have supported the Waverley since the days it was on scheduled duties from Wemyss Bay but will not be in the future until their pricing policy is reviewed or explained properly - and I would suggest that these price anomalies do nothing for the tourist trade in Bute.

Jim Irvine

10 Castle St, Port Bannatyne

A few words for wheelchair thief


I’m just writing with a few words to the low life who stole my father’s wheelchair from the shed outside his home in Rothesay last week. I hope you are proud of yourself. My father, who is almost 89 years of age, paid for that wheelchair himself so he could get about, but you stole that pleasure. There is a place for people like you: it’s called a sewer.

Edith MacDonald

11 Bridge Street, Rothesay