It is a building that has under gone a major transformation over the past 18 months, but the finishing line is almost in sight for the Linlithgow Partnership Centre.
The centre, which will be known as Tam Dalyell House after the late MP who represented the West Lothian residents, will bring a host of services under one roof.
It is expected to breathe new life into one of the town’s most prominent and historic buildings, which was formerly the County Council buildings and is located on the High Street near the Cross and Linlithgow Palace.
This week the Journal and Gazette was shown around the new refurbished £4 million building which was unrecognisable to the shell visited in January.
Building work is running several months behind schedule with it initially supposed to have been finished in February for a summer opening.
However, given the complexity of the project and specialist work involved it will now be towards the end of the year before customers can appreciate the new look centre for themselves. Maxi Construction is expected to hand the property back to the council later this month.
Council officers have said delays on a project like this are not uncommon and believe it will be worth the public’s wait.
Alistair Shaw, head of housing, customer and building services said: “We have taken a much loved and historic building and redeveloped it, rather than build it from scratch. Inevitably this means that the work is more complex and often specialist.”
Walking through the entrance of the building, attention is immediately drawn to the wood panelling, marble flooring and spacious feel to the room.
It’s hard not to be impressed by the detail of the specialist cornicing, French polished furniture and lighting which all combines to give a feeling of grandness. It felt like a step back in time almost and perhaps apt given the Linlithgow Heritage Museum is expected to move here in 2019.
As well as the Trust and the library, a number of other facilities will be relocated including Police Scotland, Customer Information Services, Local History Library, Family History Society and St Michael’s Day Care Centre.
One of the most impressive rooms inside the building is the Dalyell Suite on the second floor. The interior looks like the work of a master craftsman with the attention to detail, white walnut panelling, ornate cornices and sash windows. It also has the best view in the house overlooking the palace.
Right through the centre there have been a number of changes whilst retaining the character of the building.
Alistair said: “There are specialist doors and ironmongery and the entire boiler plant has had to be replaced, as well as roof and attic repairs carried out.
“Much of the construction work is very specialist, complex and time consuming, but the contractors are now in the final stages of the construction project before they hand over the building to the council.
“We are confident that customers in Linlithgow will not have to wait long until the new centre is open.”
One of the challenges proved to be the specialist vitrolite tiles in the bathrooms as per the planning conditions as they were easily chipped or broken in storage or on the move. On the third floor, there are further rooms for environmental health and trading standards and flexible office accommodation. There were an average of 50 workers a day working on the project, which started in December 2015.
James Stevenson, who helps to oversee the project and did the walk round said: “I’ve worked on many projects before but nothing quite like this. The building has had some unforeseen challenges but I’ll be bursting with pride when it is finished.
“I hope the public and staff are as blown away by it as we are. You do not see many buildings like this these days. It’s an important part of the cultural heritage of Linlithgow.”