Arrol’s Seafield House revealed: our new virtual exhibition

Friends of Seafield House had planned to launch the exhibition “Arrol’s Seafield House revelealed” on 16th May 2020 at Rozelle House, Ayr, in association with South Ayrshire Council, as part of 2020 Year of Coastal Waters.  The exhibition was in celebration of the 130th anniversary of the completion of Seafield House and the opening of the Forth Bridge, Sir William Arrol’s greatest construction.  However, as one of Arrol’s favourite poets, Robert Burns wrote, “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley”.  Due to the COVID-19 lock-down we postponed the launch and instead bring you this virtual exhibition as a taster of the full exhibition, now planned for May 2021.

Screenshot of the home page of the exhibition titled "Arrol's Seafield House revealed" with balck and white photograph of the house.

Click on the image to enter the exhibition

 

The exhibition was created by FoSH Committee member, Kirsty Menzies, and offers a guided tour through Seafield House using the photographs of Bedford Lemere and Co., which are held by Historic Environment Scotland.  The photographs were taken by Harry Lemere on 12 May 1890, not long after the construction and interior decoration of Seafield House was completed. Our grateful thanks go to Historic Environment Scotland Archives for permission to use the images from their Bedford Lemere Seafield House collection.

Screenshot of tweet by Historic Environment Scotland on 15 June 2020 saying "William Arrol was the engineer whose company built the Forth Bridge - but have you ever wondered what his house was like?  No cantilivers in sight, but there is some rather interesting stuff from our #HESarchives in this from @ Friends Seafield!"

There may be no cantilevers in sight but we hope you will find the exhibition riveting nonetheless.

 

 

Seafield House cited in Historic Environment Scotland debate in Parliament

At the meeting of the Scottish Parliament on 4th November MSPs debated the Historic Environment Scotland Bill, Stage 3. Liam McArthur MSP had lodged an amendment to the Bill in connection to the Functions of Historic Environment Scotland. He proposed that “promoting the maintenance of the historic environment” be added, given that it  appears in guidance, but not on the face of the bill.  Initially raised by the Law Society of Scotland, Chair of Friends of Seafield House, Rob Close had written in support of the amendment, setting out the example of the lack of maintenance of Seafield House.

“The word ‘maintenance’ has a much more practical meaning: it is a word that talks directly to owners who are not minded to ‘conserve’ or ‘preserve’.”

The letter was cited by Liam McArthur in speaking to the amendment and Chic Brodie MSP raised a question on how the amendment would add to the bill.

Sadly, despite cross party support – SNP excepted – the Government did not agree the amendment and it fell. The Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, did say some useful words, however, which we can reflect on in considering future options.

“The bill should set out the overall task for HES in broad terms; it should not offer a detailed catalogue of the contents of the toolkit that it will deploy.  Promoting maintenance is already fully covered by HES’s general function of “investigating, caring for and promoting Scotland’s historic environment” and its particular functions of “managing” and “conserving” the historic environment”

“I note that local authorities already have strong powers to take action in respect of listed buildings that are being neglected by their owners. Those powers include the ability to issue repair notices, compulsory purchase, and the power to make repairs to unoccupied buildings and recover the costs.”

 

Read the Official Report of the debate on the Scottish Parliament website.