My favourite restoration project

Glenmalloch Lodge

Alastair Dick-Cleland is Landmark's Conservation Manager. He has managed many of Landmark's restoration projects, including RIBA Stirling Prize winner Astley Castle near Nuneaton. Here, he writes about his favourite restoration project - the tiny Glenmalloch Lodge in Dumfries and Galloway.

We were told about the plight of Glenmalloch Lodge by a local heritage group. They thought it might be the sort of building that Landmark would take on. As the Handbook says, it’s a fairy-tale cottage in a wild and beautiful glen in Dumfries & Galloway.

Rather astonishingly, it was built by the Countess of Galloway as a picturesque schoolhouse for the children of the estate employees. In such a remote and isolated position, it’s hard to imagine that this was convenient for anyone – although it may have once been visible from the ‘big house’ before trees grew up. Given its small size – originally only two small rooms with a pair privies out the back, it’s surprising to learn that up to 25 girls were taught here.

It is reached by a long and impressively potholed track, and when I first saw it, it was in a very sad state with the roof collapsing and the interior largely gutted. It had some charmingly quirky features though such as the beautifully cusped bargeboards to the gables; and a huge chimneystack with three chimney pots on top – but only ever the one flue. It clearly was in desperate need of rescue and it was hard to see that anyone other than Landmark would take on such a challenge.

We used Robert Potter & Partners as our architects, and with Historic Scotland’s encouragement, they designed a rear extension, carefully crafted by the stonemasons to match the original walls, to provide the much-needed bathroom. Otherwise, it was restored very much as originally designed and so the bedroom and sitting room are one, with the kitchen next door.

The roof is laid in diminishing courses with huge slates at the eaves, getting progressively smaller as they go up to the ridge. We were able to secure matching slates from Burlington quarry in the Lake District, and the deep overhanging eaves help this little schoolhouse hunker down securely in its wild & remote spot.