The Cally Temple Project


Building owner/client:

Forestry Commission Scotland

Architect or lead designer:

Michael Leybourne, Smiths Gore.

Local Authority Area:

Dumfries & Galloway

Nominating Body:

Gatehouse of Fleet Community Council

Project Description

Over the last eight years the Gatehouse Development Initiative (GDI) in partnership with Forestry Commission Scotland has been raising funds to carry out projects to conserve and restore aspects of the Designed Landscape of Cally, on the outskirts of Gatehouse of Fleet. In September 2011, A C Wolffe & Partners were contracted to carry out a survey of the grade B listed two storey Temple at Cally, built in 1779 and attributed to James Ramsay. The survey showed that extensive vegetation was present on internal and external stonework, including wallheads, and there was much algae on stonework. Water penetration had washed away much of the lime mortar and access to the site was poor. The GDI was determined to conserve the structure and increase public awareness and accessibility, and by the summer of 2014 sufficient funds were secured to carry out the necessary work. Fleet Valley Community volunteers had already carried out a survey of the ground around the building and found substantial quantities of ceramic and glass material, confirming that the building had been inhabited in the late 18th century. The volunteers had also cleared sapling growth from the site. Conservation architect Michael Leybourne of Smiths Gore was appointed to oversee the project and Luce Bay Ltd were contracted to carry out the conservation and restoration work, which was completed in spring 2015. As well as rebuilding some of the crenellations, repairing stonework and repointing much of the building, the contractors installed a new stair handrail to the external stairs to replace a rather ugly steel cage designed to prevent people from climbing the stairs. Volunteers did a lot of maintenance work on paths in the area and the Forestry Commission improved access to the building and gravel was laid around it. As part of the building project volunteers took part in a lime mortar training day and, in connection with he rebuilding of a boundary wall on the approach to the building, took part in three drystone wall training days. This has been a community led project involving a lot of community participation. The public was kept informed of progress via the community website. A creative writer was engaged to lead groups to the Temple and to record their impressions in poetry. School children, local scout groups, university students, poetry groups, Forestry Commission staff and members of the public took part in creative writing sessions and a publication entitled “Cally Voices” was launched as part of the Wigtown Book Festival, when over 40 people took part in a guided walk to the Temple. There was also a poetry reading at the Temple as part of Gatehouse’s Big Lit weekend. The GDI organised a number of guided walks to the Temple and the volunteers carried out research on the historic environment, which they used to train “Cally Ambassadors”. The information which was gathered as part of the project was used to create an information board at the site and a number of information panels were installed in the Mill on the Fleet Visitor Centre in Gatehouse.

Supporting Statement

For a relatively modest sized project, there have been a significant number of very positive outcomes. Apart from the obvious one of restoring a structure of historical and environmental significance in the Cally Designed Landscape, it has given the volunteers an opportunity to gain hands-on experience of traditional building techniques, and thus gain a better understanding of some of the practicalities of building restoration. More unusually however, the project gave many groups and individuals an opportunity to assess and record the responses and emotions that this building, in its designed landscape setting, engendered in them. They had the opportunity to use their imagination in telling of its past uses, of describing its place in the landscape, the environment, and the ecology of the area, and make projections regarding how it might be perceived in the future. It also consolidated the feelings of pride that local residents have in this unique small Scottish town regarding its rich and varied history, and their pride in assisting visitors to understand and enjoy this local environment.