Doors Open Day

The new Burgh Hall

By Elspeth Crocket, Arts & Culture correspondent

The bi-annual Doors Open Day events on Saturday gave many Dumbarton residents their first opportunity to view the new council offices in Church Street.  The building skilfully incorporates the beautifully restored William Leiper façade of the old Burgh Hall into the ultra-modern office block.

I joined one of the busy tours conducted by project manager Euan Tyson and council officers Paul Duffy and Claire Weir.  The public verdict was overwhelmingly positive, the building deemed impressive.  It was good to learn, too, that the building is generally liked by staff.

My personal favourite features were the impressive portrait of Provost John McAusland – he was provost of Dumbarton when work started on the old building in 1865 – the superb views of Dumbarton Castle and the large public space on the first floor where council meetings are held.  There are splendid portraits here too, but could we have a plaque on all of these as well as notes?  Only negative is the smallish public gallery where residents can go to view council meetings.  Hopefully supplementary public seating can be provided.

Overall verdict – a welcome touch of class for a town which has lost so much visual dignity.  Bravo to the architects and to the local councillors who had the vision to invest in these offices.  Thanks to Historic Environment Scotland for their contribution and to Euan, Paul and Claire for the informative tour and the tea and biscuits.  Finally, a huge thank you to Jeremy Watson, convener of the Lennox Heritage, whose hours of work make Doors Open day possible.

Burgh Hall original building and then later in the 1970s.

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