Doors Open Days is Scotland’s largest free festival that celebrates heritage and the built environment, new and old. Every September, you can explore hundreds of fascinating buildings across Scotland for free. Some open up once a year, some just once in a lifetime.
Doors Open Days is a national event run by the Scottish Civic Trust. Information about the national programme, including event listings, can be found at www.doorsopendays.org.uk. Doors Open Days, along with Scottish Archaeology Month take place throughout Scotland and are part of European Heritage Days – an initiative which promotes a sense of community and a “common heritage” throughout the continent.
2018 Programme Highlights:
Bowling Basin and the Bowling Harbour Project
This is the western most end of the Forth and Clyde Canal. Besides the boats and lockgates, there is the old rail bridge above and the arches below. The specific focus this Doors Open Day is the Bowling Harbour Project.
The arches now house a variety of commercial units. Those on the canal section have such things as cycle hire. Those overlooking the Basin have arts and crafts. The Bowling Harbour Project will be arranging stalls and activities. That includes a guided look at the basin and canal, its history and features that many visitors usually miss. Even a canoe trip on the canal.
Dumbarton Central Station & The Armed Forces Veterans Association
The station is a category A listed building, a great example of Scottish industrial heritage. The railway originally opened 1854, but was altered and widened to the south in about 1896. The present structures are mostly from 1896 although electrification had an impact on the canopies.
But for this Doors Open Day we are drawing attention to the Armed Forces Veterans Association which can be found on Platform Two. This is a small but fascinating centre for the veterans of our armed services. You are invited to pop in to see what they do and perhaps exchange stories. Those manning it are keen to chat about the association and children may find the models of interest.
There is a small cafe on Platform One.
Dumbarton Fire Station
Part of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Services. Learn about the service, careers, fire safety at home and other aspects. See fire engines up close and meet the firemen who man them. All of the family will find this fascinating.
While the library has some interesting architectural features, it is for what else is available that it is included in this Doors Open Day event. These include:
Local history materials, family history resources and archives covering the Dumbarton and Vale of Leven areas
Local history resources including some publications for sale
An exhibition on "From Living Memory to Memorial: Dumbarton’s WWI Stories".
Gardens at Robin House
There are great gardens at Robin House, which is very near Balloch. Robin House is the local premises of Children's Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS). It is reached from Mollanbowie Road in Balloch and is close to the road entrance to Balloch Castle and park from the east side. The sweeping roofscape of this impressive modern building is by Hoskins Architects (2000). As this is a children's hospice, there is no access to within the building itself, but it can be enjoyed from the garden. Definitely suitable for all the family.
Masonic Lodge, Alexandria
Category A listed 1888-91. Former J A Campbell William Ewing Gilmour Institute for Working Girls. Renaissance halls with Baronial keep and hammer-beam roof. This roof is one of only three examples (the other two being at Stirling and Edinburgh Castles). There are wall paintings by Harrington-Mann.
A good example of Scottish Baronial style municipal architecture in red Locharbriggs sandstone. It was constructed in College Park, presented to the town by Lord Overtoun. This was originally a park near the medieval collegiate church of St Mary, but later the College Park House, owned and occupied by McMillan's shipbuilders were demolished to build the Municipal Buildings.
Great stained glass.
Riverside Parish Church
A plain pedimented Georgian building designed by John Brash of Glasgow, architect, in 1811. But surprises await you. It has magnificent stained glass windows which you need to appreciate from the inside. There are several from notable artists. Look out for that by William Morris. And then enjoy the glorious light through that of the Millenium Window created by renowned glass artist John Clark
St Augustine's Episcopal Church
A beautiful interior with some great stained glass.Built in 1873 to the designs of architect Sir Robert Rowand Anderson in the Gothic Revival Style. The interior is said to be among Anderson's finest. Stained glass at baptismal font is by Stephen Adam with others to designs by Carl Alnquist. The organ was designed and built for the church by Smith and Brock. Some woodcarvings such as the angels on the pews are worth a look. Total restoration of building in 2003. A parsonage and hall by A. C. Denny are now demolished, but a modern timber clad building was added.Scotland's great Art Nouveau architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh married Margaret Macdonald here in 1900.
St Patrick's Roman Catholic Church
A magnificent aisled 8 bay Gothic style building with a lower chancel and many beautiful and interesting features. Sanctuary 1935. Tower 1926-27 by architects Pugin & Pugin. The belfry has a large tenor bell and a carillon of 23 bells. There is an interesting practice carillon too - a keyboard which operates the bells. Excellent stained glass. A statue of St Michael by Eric Gill. White marble pieta in memorial chapel.Mass had been celebrated in the Dumbarton area from the 1800s. By 1830 there were 500 Catholics and seeing the need for a church, St Patrick opened its doors; being the first post-Reformation Catholic church in the area. The foundation stone of the new church was laid in 1901 with the formal opening on the 22 March 1903. The foundation stone of the tower was laid on 27June 1926 by the Archbishop Mackintosh. The new marble side altars, the pulpit the altar rails, the organ, the mortuary chapel, the tower and its carillon of 23 bells had all been completed by the end of 1927 and with the erection of the Pieta on the marble altar in the basement of the tower the two years' work was brought to a successful termination.
Strathleven House is modern serviced office and business centre in a stunning historic Palladian mansion.The Strathleven estate, originally known as Kirkmichael, was owned in the 14th century by the Fleming family. It passed to the Semples of Fulwood in the 17th century. In 1677 it was bought by the royalist William Cochrane, 1st Earl of Dundonald (1605 - 1685). A tower house may have existed on the estate at this time, but in 1700 his grandson, William, built the present house which he named Levenside. His initials and coat of arms are inscribed on the stonework of the building. The architect is unrecorded. It has been suggested that William Adam, Sir William Bruce, or Alexander McGill may have been responsible. However, on stylistic grounds James Smith is considered the most likely designer. He was the most significant Scottish architect of his time and the person generally credited with introducing Palladianism into Scotland. The design of here has been compared to his houses at Newhailes near Edinburgh and Raith House in Kirkcaldy. The dovecote which stands nearby is considered to be contemporary with the house. [Wiki].It is A-Listed and considered to be the earliest surviving example of the classic Palladian country house in Scotland.There is reputed to be a lost tunnel below it and linking with the River Leven.But that is not the only surprise. You may just find historical characters around. Or crafts. And there will be someone on hand to tell you the history of the building.
The Maid of the Loch Paddle Steamer
Loch Lomond's Paddle Steamer on Loch Lomond, at Balloch Pier. Open to the public as a family-friendly historic visitor attraction and as a unique venue for events and functions. The restored A listed Balloch Steam Slipway is capable of pulling the 555 gross ton Maid of the Loch out of the loch. The Maid and Balloch Steam Slipway are cared for by the Loch Lomond Steamship Company, a charity based in Scotland. All staff are unpaid volunteers.
West Bridgend Church
Designed by John MacLeod, architect in 1887 in the Gothic style. The third church for West Bridgend United Presbyterian Church was fully restored in 1997-98. An original piece of Victorian stencil work which decorated the walls was uncovered during restoration work and is now on view. Archie Richmond of Richmond Architects, Dumbarton, oversaw the restoration work.
West Dunbartonshire Council Offices
An impressive facade by William Leiper looks onto Church Street. Known locally as either the Burgh Halls or Academy Building, it had lain derelict for years. But this year restoration and refurbishment was completed and it began a new life as the frontage for modern offices for the council.
Access during working hours from Monday to Friday is limited to the foyer, although from there you can view the large atrium and an exhibition put on by the architects responsible for its extension.
For more information on the participating buildings, events & tours, visit www.doorsopendays.org.uk
While we take every opportunity to ensure the details for Doors Open Days West Dunbartonshire are accurate, we always advise that you contact the event organiser before setting out for the event to avoid disapointment.
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