Why was there a need for investment and what are the overall aims of your project?
Braemar Community Limited undertook the lease of Braemar Castle for fifty years in February 2007 at a cost of £1 per annum. It was in a very rundown condition and the company completed urgent repairs and maintenance. Feasibility studies and option appraisals were carried out and a full business plan was developed. A benefactor purchased the contents of the Castle and reinstalled them in the Castle on permanent loan to the company. The Castle was re-opened to the public in May 2008 on a weekend only basis staffed by volunteers. These initial stages provided the directors with accurate information on visitor numbers and established that the Castle can be an essential component of the local tourist trade. The company was assisted by local expertise in historic building restoration and advisers from Historic Scotland and the local authority.
A condition study was carried out prior to the repairs programme and from this a development plan was drawn up. The work for the first phase of a full restoration and repair programme was then put out to tender. The complete restoration project is estimated to take ten years to complete. Funding was sought to deliver phase one which was considered the most important and critical phase of the restoration programme.
The project aimed to ensure that the outer fabric of the main building made completely wind and water tight so that the interior of the Castle can be fully restored and its contents housed in an ideal environment.
How was your project funded?
Total Expenditure: £104,512.20 – Total Cairngorms LEADER grant claimed: £50,000
Were there any aims for facilitating community benefits in particular?
Braemar Castle is an iconic historic building and is a key attraction for tourists to the local area. Tourism is the lifeblood of the local community and the reopening of the Castle supported by positive marketing is attracting visitors from all over the world. As work progresses Braemar Community Limited will be able to employ more people to act as custodians and guides, thereby further adding to the local economy.
The Castle is now in the care of the community and so attracts a lot of interest worldwide. This is the community’s most important undertaking and the successful efforts of the volunteers to get the Castle open to the public again is proving to be of exceptional value in promoting community cohesion. This is a community led project and is the only one of its kind in the area. It demonstrates that no matter how small and remote a community is it can undertake big projects that make a huge contribution to underpinning its viability.
Summary of project implementation
There was a long run in period to the starting of the physical works as the match funding was secured, the tendering completed and the relevant permissions obtained. The project started with scaffolding arriving on 1st October 2012 and being erected over a two week period. Progress was then severely hampered by the weather with very few working days possible. From mid February on the contractors were able to make continued progress. Once the restoration works started some additional work was identified relating to the Turrets and additional quotes obtained and included in the Project. To minimise costs for accommodation the contractor’s staff stayed on site in the Castle.
What’s next for your project?
This project formed the basis of the long-term survival of the building. The operation of the Castle is part of the company’s business planning. A great deal of work has been done to reduce the overheads and these costs are well within the Castle’s earning capacity. With increased numbers visiting the Castle a full-time manager has now been recruited building capacity to further develop the Castle and ensure its long term sustainability.
Braemar Castle 013397 41219