Enabling works

As always happens with historic buildings, more problems were uncovered as the work progressed.  In the roof void above the main auditorium we discovered that the support bars holding up the suspended ceiling over the dance floor were not all secured into the masonry. Every one of the 430+ bars had to be fixed in place with a metal attachment forged at Bute Blacksmiths. Above the stage more asbestos was discovered, necessitating a return visit from the specialist asbestos removal company and a two-week delay.  Eventually the work was completed in October 2016 and the Pavilion was handed back to Argyll and Bute Council for the winter.

We are also conducting 'hard hat' tours of the building site on a regular basis throughout the project. Please contact Ann Russell on ann@rothesaypavilion.co.uk if you would like to take part in one.

May to December 2016

With the Pavilion finally empty and asbestos cleared we were able to enter the first phase of ‘enabling’ works. Dunoon based firm, John Brown (Strone) Ltd. won the contract and started on site in early summer 2016.  This phase entailed making the building safe, installing protection for historic features, carrying out more surveys – this time to the concrete and cast stone, and fire boarding the ceilings throughout.

While the building has been standing dormant masses of work is happening behind the scenes to prepare for the next stage of works – the main building contract. The Design Team and the council have put together an extensive brief for the tendering process, which starts in late January. Once the tenders have been returned and evaluated we will be able to award the main contract and hope to see works starting on site again in June 2017 for a November 2018 completion.

In the meantime, Rothesay Pavilion charity has appointed a new Engagement Officer – Ann Russell - and Administrator – Laura Edwards -  who joined me in our temporary project office in Bute Fabrics. Over the coming months Ann will be coordinating on a number of arts and heritage activities and mini-projects leading up to the Pavilion’s reopening. We’ll be reporting on our activities here and on our Facebook page and also sharing news about opportunities for you to get involved.



My name is Julia Twomlow and I am the Artistic Director and CEO of Rothesay Pavilion. Along with our Engagement Officer, Ann Russell, I will be updating you on the progress of the rebuild of Rothesay Pavilion as it moves towards reopening in the winter of 2018.  We are starting this blog one year into the project so the first few posts will act as a catch up on what has been happening over the period of time since the Pavilion closed its doors to the public in September 2015.

Nov 2015 to Mar 2016

When I moved to Bute from Cornwall in November 2015 to take up the post of CEO/AD, Rothesay Pavilion had only been closed to the public for a matter of weeks but already it was starting to look and feel derelict. It was as if the building had been holding its breath for the last decade, waiting for the doors to close and the revellers to go home so that it could heave a big sigh of relief - like undoing your top button after a hearty meal or collapsing into bed after a particularly tough day. RP was doing the building equivalent. Bits had started to drop off, ceilings to fall in and water to find its way into places where water shouldn't be.  Without the little crew of council staff on hand to sweep up piles of crumbling plaster and deftly conceal the cracks and damp patches with drapes and judicious lighting, it was no longer possible to hide the fact that the building had reached its tipping point. Within weeks - accelerated by a spell of bad weather - Rothesay Pavilion looked like it had been closed up and deserted for decades.




One of my first tasks was to clear out the building ready for the enabling works to start. The council had already removed a lot when they vacated but there was still literally tonnes of stuff remaining. With a small team of volunteers we started the task. Every cupboard and nook was full of random objects, the artefacts left over from 80 years of continuous use by the community as everything from a wedding venue to indoor football and spin classes. We found satin shoes, a tin of ancient sugar roses, around 200,000 paper towels, three sacks of plastic balls, funeral flower arrangement catalogues, cardboard cutout cows - life size, hundreds of light bulbs of every conceivable colour and variety, the list was endless and everything had to be go.

We were determined from the outset to try and keep the Pavilion out of landfill so a rigorous campaign of recycling ensued. Everything that we possibly could was passed on into the community in exchange for a donation. Dozens of strip lights went into a milking shed at a local farm, timbers were taken away to build hen houses and fences in Rothesay gardens, the old indoor football boards found a new home on the allotments. Anything left over was shifted through a community jumble sale. In total we raised over £3,000 and managed to recycle or reuse around 50 tonnes of waste. 

In the process I had got to know the building intimately and scrabbled about in places that CEOs don't usually go in the course of their work. It was good. A neighbour stopped me outside the Pavilion - with my filthy hair and face, in ripped clothes, looking far from my best. 'You're one of those hands-on bosses aren't you?' he ventured. 'I guess so' I replied. I felt like I'd arrived at least.