Scaffolding surrounding an Inverness landmark is finally being taken down as a major renovation project nears completion.
Work on the historic town house on Castle Street is now on course to finish next month, with locals welcoming the end of the city centre “looking like a building site” in time for summer.
The civic centre, built in 1882, has already undergone £4.2 million facelift during the inaugural phases of the renovation project being performed by Highland Council.
Construction works on the final phase of the project commenced in April 2018, with aspirations of completing the project last year.
However, due to the pandemic, all building works were ground to a halt for six months.
Exactly three years on, Laing Traditional Masonry (LTM) are now putting the finishing touches to the Grade A listed building.
Inverness Provost Helen Carmichael said: “Phase three of the works has shown what a beautiful sandstone building we have in Castle Street. The red sandstone building has quite a spectacular roof line.
“Preserving historic buildings such as the town house, that’s why I am Provost. It’s a joy to see this project completed and for this building to stand for generations to come.
“I feel it is so essential to retain these beautiful buildings. We are very lucky to have the Inverness Common Good Fund.”
A council spokesman said: “I can confirm the works are due completion in the middle of May.
“All scaffolding and external works will be complete by the end of April with the completion of the internal works being the middle of May.”
The milestone comes as works commence at neighbouring Inverness Castle to transform it into a visitor attraction.
Demolition works were undertaken on the site in January to tear down an eyesore improvised cell block at the landmark which was previously home to Inverness Sheriff Court.
Years in the making
The Victorian Grade A-listed town house , located in the heart of Inverness city centre, has been subject to extensive renovations for several years.
For two years, the property, owned by the Inverness Common Good Fund, was kept under a special ‘building wrap’ costing £20,000 depicting a replica image of the landmark.
During the initial two phases of the works, more than £4million was spent renovating both the west wing and the main façade.
The stain glass windows throughout the building were replaced as repairs were conducted on the buildings stonework and roof.
The interior staircase, chamber and main hall also underwent an extensive facelift, recreating the colour pallet used when the building fist opened in 1882.
Conservation workers also spent several weeks hand washing and polishing the chandeliers scattered through the building and several works of art.
Councillor Trish Robertson, chairwoman of the local authority’s economy and infrastructure committee, has welcomed the progress.
She said: “To see the scaffolding coming down is a big thing because we have been living with it for so long, and there is a clear improvement.
“It’s fantastic to get to that stage.
“It’s a historic building and with the castle revamp going ahead as well, the two sit together and once it is all done it’s going to be a fantastic part of the city centre.
“It’s just amazing to have it all done and see the centre not look like a building site.”
Restoring historic elements of 19th century townhouse
Scotland’s largest local authority proposed the extensive programme of works with aims of restoring the 19th century property to its original state.
The landmark was built in 1882 and was officially opened by the second son of Queen Victoria, Alfred as a civic centre.
The building made its mark on history by hosting the first cabinet meeting of Prime Minister Lloyd George’s British government ever held outside London in 1921.
During the course of the works, two stone dogs were reinstated at the town house after being discovered in unmarked crates by council officials in September 2017.
The sculptures were missing for half a century before being discovered just days before scaffolding was erected at the front of the building as part of the refurbishment works.