Meet the author of Arrol/Eiffel inspired novel in Ayr

poster with an image of the book and details of th event.If our blog post about the launch of Beatrice Colin’s latest book, “To Capture What You Cannot Keep”, has whetted your appetite, then come along to join us for a drink and hear more about it at Waterstones Ayr on the 2 March at 7pm.

Beatrice will be there to discuss and read excerpts from her novel, and if the Glasgow launch is anything to go by, it will be a very enjoyable evening. Afterwards Beatrice will be happy to sign copies of her book.

The novel is beautifully written and and builds a very evocative atmosphere of Paris in the late 1880s. It is based around the construction of the Eiffel Tower, and as it grows, so does the romance between Caitriona Wallace and Emile Nougier. Cait and the Arrol niece and nephew are fictional creations, but many of the characters are based on historical figures and have been well researched, including William Arrol. Although he isn’t one of the central characters, he has a strong presence throughout the novel and has been sympathetically portrayed. In the story, during an encounter with William Arrol, a reference is made to the house he was building in Ayr “with a vast conservatory and a view of the Firth of Clyde”, what was to become Seafield House.

Friends of Seafield House (FoSH) have organised the evening in association with Waterstones Ayr who are putting on the event to celebrate World Book Day and the launch of the novel, with its Ayr connections. Drinks will be served in store from 6.30pm and members of the FoSH committee will be there to answer any questions about Seafield House and Sir William Arrol.

Tickets are free and available now from Waterstones in Ayr or by phoning 01292 262600.  Further details are on the Waterstones Ayr website and Facebook page.

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Arrol and Eiffel inspiration captured in fiction

Last night saw the launch, in Glasgow, of Beatrice Colin’s latest novel To Capture What We Cannot Keep.  It is a story of love in the 1880s set around the construction of the Eiffel Tower and may be the first work of fiction to feature Sir William Arrol.

Cover artwork with image of the Eiffel Tower

It follows the romance between Émile Nouguier, one of the engineers who designed the Eiffel Tower and Cait Wallace, a young widow and chaperone to Alice and James, a niece and nephew of Sir William Arrol. Whilst Cait and the Arrol siblings are purely fictional characters, Beatrice has cleverly woven them into a story based around historical fact.  She was inspired to write the story following a visit to Paris which sparked her interest in the Eiffel Tower and she chose Émile Nouguier as a central character for the story.  Beatrice also wanted to introduce a Scottish dimension to the story and it was only when she discovered that Gustave Eiffel had attended the opening of the Forth Bridge that the Arrol connection was made.  As Beatrice has pointed out, both Nouguier and Arrol are responsible for building famous iconic structures, like the Eiffel Tower and the Forth Bridge, and yet, despite their achievements, the two engineers are relatively unknown.

Beatrice Colin lives in Glasgow and is a novelist and lecturer in creative writing, and this is her 7th published book.  It was during her research on Sir William Arrol that first introduced Beatrice to Friends of Seafield House, when she came along to the launch of the campaign, back in 2012.  Since then we have been intrigued to hear how her story developed and eagerly anticipated its completion.

To celebrate its publication, Friends of Seafield House have arranged with Waterstones bookshop in Ayr to host an evening event with Beatrice Colin on 2 March.  Keep an eye on this page for further details if you would like to come along and hear Beatrice read some excerpts and talk about her novel.

– Meeting to establish Friends of Seafield House (FoSH) on 15 October 2012

Friends of Seafield House (FOSH) was established on 15 October 2012 to support the campaign by SAVE Britain’s Heritage among others to save Seafield House, securing a new use for the building & developing proposals for its restoration.

Over 15 of Scotland & Britain’s leading conservation architects & engineers, architectural historians, academics, authors, entrepreneurs & local residents met in Ayr to launch their campaign to SAVE Seafield House. Two Arrol family members are involved: Andrew Arrol who has become a Patron & Kirsty Menzies as a Founding Friend.

The meeting was introduced by Marcus Binney, President of SAVE Britain’s Heritage, and Patrick Lorimer, Director of ARPL Architects who are spearheading the campaign. The new Friends of Seafield House unanimously endorsed their initial proposals to rescue the building, beginning with a swift programme of urgent works to stop further deterioration during the forthcoming winter.

Video kindly provided by ELGATO Film Productions

Marcus Binney says:
“Ruined castles tower houses and mansions have survived centuries of abandon and neglect all over Scotland and during the past  60 years not just dozens but hundreds have been brought back to life and use by enterprising new owners. Seafield House must not be allowed to join the long list of over 200 major historic houses demolished in Scotland since 1945”

Patrick Lorimer says:
 ”Not only is the building iconic in the  light of its original owner it is also a critical and vital element within  the historic landscape of this unique part of Ayr, it should and can be  rescued”

Andrew Arrol, one of two Patrons of the Friends of Seafield House, who as Surveyor to York Minster, is in charge of one of the most important and ambitious repair and restoration programmes in the British Isles, says:
“In my view Seafield House can certainly be saved. It is very well built of good durable materials and potential has many years of life ahead of it.”

Charles Blackett-Ord, a leading structural engineer with long experience of endangered historic buildings who also attended the meeting says:
 “Despite the loss of most of the roof in the fire, the walls remain substantial and stable and a quite modest programme of urgent works could safeguard the building while plans are drawn up for its rescue”

Seafield House owners, NTS Ayrshire & Arran, seem reluctant to discuss Seafield House with SAVE Britain’s Heritage despite SAVE having a wealth of success in achieving new uses for buildings, including Dumfries House. The NHS Trust refused all attempts to secure a hard-hat site visit for Marcus Binney, Patrick Lorimer & a core group of eminent conservation professionals. The refusal was made despite each professional having the required indemnity cover. The group instead had to inspect the neglected exterior of Seafield House. Its conclusion was unanimous: Seafield House can be saved.

Over a lunch meeting at the Savoy Park Hotel, those present discussed next steps in the campaign, including a Public Meeting in December and an event in February 2013 to celebrate the Centenary of Sir William Arrol’s death.  Two substantial proposals were put on the table. The first proposal is for a phased programme of repairs, the first phase of which would consist of re-roofing the house and creating a secure interior with reinstated windows and floors. The second proposal is for using the house for engineering training and a permanent display of the life and achievements of Sir William Arrol open to visitors including school pupils.

The NHS Trust has set up a Viability Group to consider the future of Seafield House. SAVE Britain’s Heritage with the supp-ort of the Friends of Seafield House will present their proposals to the NHS Trust and are determined to seek and receive a positive response. The message from the Friends of Seafield House to the NHS Trust is simple: Seafield House can be saved.

Friends of Seafield House will seek to persuade South Ayrshire Council and Historic Scotland of the need for an urgent works notice to be served on the owner, the aim of which is to secure the building from further deterioration.