Doors will open for free in Linlithgow this weekend

Now wind and watertight, Duntarvie Castle is still a work in progress but will eventually be used as a venue for functions. Doors Open Days will enable people to see the progress that has been made so far.
Now wind and watertight, Duntarvie Castle is still a work in progress but will eventually be used as a venue for functions. Doors Open Days will enable people to see the progress that has been made so far.

There will be no excuse for moaning that there’s nothing to do this September.

For Linlithgow Civic Trust and Falkirk Community Trust (FCT) have each co-ordinated a packed programme of events for the Doors Open Days festival.

Giving people a chance to explore buildings they may otherwise be unable to, completely free of charge, it’s a great way to find out more about treasures here on the doorstep and further afield.

More than 1000 buildings will open for free across Scotland during September, with each area having its own specific weekend.

The programme in West Lothian has been co-ordinated by chartered surveyor and Civic Trust member Allan Robertson.

Doors will open this Saturday and Sunday (September 1 and 2).

With so much to see and do, we asked Allan to talk us through the highlights.

He said: “A unique property this year is Cathlaw Grange in Torphichen. It’s known as the Tank House locally and is now a private residence.

“It was originally the site of a water tank, dating from around 1900 and owned by Linlithgow County Council. The current owners purchased it five years ago and demolished the building but kept its steel frame.

“As a residential property, it would not normally be open to the public but the owners have kindly agreed to open it on Sunday.”

Another home on a rather grander scale which will open this Sunday is Hopetoun House. It’s an opportunity to tour Lord Hopetoun’s family residence completely free of charge.

If you enjoy local history, Mary’s Meanders has offered walking tours of Linlithgow on Sunday.

Allan said: “The tour at 11am was very quickly booked up but Mary’s Meanders very kindly offered to stage another one at 9.30am and, if readers are quick, they may be able to book a space.”

Duntarvie Castle, just under a mile from Winchburgh, is also likely to prove to be a popular choice on both Saturday and Sunday.

“The building is visible from the M9 and has long been a ruin,” said Allan.

“However, the new owner Geoffrey Nicholsby is in the process of restoring it. With a new roof in place, it’s now wind and watertight and Geoffrey aims to make it a function venue, as well as the headquarters of Geoffrey Tailor Highland Crafts.

“Local architect Jon Newey, of EK:JN architects, has been working with Geoffrey on the refurbishment. There’s still some way to go but visitors will get a chance to see inside for the first time.”

Burgh Beautiful’s base in Clarendon House, Crossview Studios, the Burgh Halls and St Michael’s Parish Church in Linlithgow are also taking part this weekend, along with a host of churches across West Lothian.

Allan added: “St Peter’s Scottish Episcopal Church is in the centre of Linlithgow High Street but is set back from the rest of the buildings and has a narrow frontage so you might miss it, if you didn’t know it was there.

“The church has taken part in previous years but extension work has now been completed. It’s a very interesting church and it’s well worth a visit to see the new addition.

“All three churches in the Pardovan, Kingscavil and Winchburgh parish are also taking part. Each has its own unique character.”

Doors Open Days will be staged in Bo’ness on September 15 and 16, with events co-ordinated by Geoff Bailey, FCT’s heritage engagement officer.

A unique addition this year is Bo’ness Recreation Centre, opened in 1976. While it may not have a long history, it certainly has an interesting story to tell.

Designed on a sloping site in Gauze Road, the centre’s pool is of particular interest.

Geoff explained: “We’re giving people a chance to go below the swimming pool. The pool is set in a thick concrete trough, terraced into the hill slope.

“Tours will go around the side of that trough and slightly underneath it where, despite the thick concrete, water trickles through to create stalactites.

“While the pool uses mains water, it does go through a filtration process first to remove small particles and kill bacteria and parasites like Cryptosporidium. Visitors will be able to get a better insight into this process during the tours.”

Kinneil House will also be open on September 15 from noon to 4pm and Kinneil Museum, located in the old coachhouse, will be ope 2pm-4pm.

Events staged across Scotland

Doors Open Days is co-ordinated nationally by the Scottish Civic Trust.

It is part of European Heritage Days alongside Scottish Archaeology Month, which is co-ordinated by Archaeology Scotland.

Both Doors Open Days and Scottish Archaeology Month are supported by Historic Environment Scotland.

Area co-ordinators, who work for a variety of local authorities, civic trusts and heritage organisations, create and manage local programmes.

Across Scotland, more than 1000 buildings will be open and free to enter this September.

Many of them are not normally open to the public and some are opening for the first time. Castles, churches, mosques, museums, fire stations, offices, theatres and even a distillery are among the buildings taking part this year.

You can visit a winery and ciderhouse in Perth, an historic artist’s house in Angus, a secret bunker in Skelmorlie, a candle-factory in Glasgow and Adam Smith’s birthplace in Kirkcaldy.

There truly is something for everyone, with talks, tours, heritage trails and other events for all ages.

Susan O’Connor, director of the Scottish Civic Trust, said: “Doors Open Day is a fantastic opportunity for communities up and down the country to show off the best of their buildings.

“We’re thrilled with the range of architectural wonders on display this year and we can’t wait for people to enjoy as many sites as possible.”

Doors Open Days are held each weekend throughout September, giving people the chance to visit as many of the properties as they can fit in!

For the full programme of events, visit www.doorsopendays.org.uk.