Boxing clever: work begins on Hill House project

CGI of what the ‘Box’ will look like

WORK has started on a poignant project to save the Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed Hill House in Helensburgh.

Contractor Robertson is building a ‘Box’ which will envelop the historic building in a bid to protect it from the elements as part of the National Trust for Scotland’s restoration plans.

A “chainmail” structure will be erected around the building over the next six months. Designed by architects Carmody Groarke, the mesh pavilion will help the property dry out after more than a century of absorbing rain. This will allow further conservation work to be carried out.

The Hill House was built in 1904 for publisher Walter Blackie. To mark the start of construction, representatives of the National Trust for Scotland and Robertson were joined by his granddaughter, Ruth Currie.

Ed Parry, managing director at Robertson Central West said, “It is an absolute privilege to be leading the construction of such a unique project. The Hill House is precious to us all and the ‘Box’ will play a pivotal role in allowing vital restoration work to take place.”

The National Trust for Scotland launched a ‘Box the Hill House’ campaign earlier this year, which aimed to raise £1.5 million. So far, more than £1.3 million has been raised.

Construction work is now underway at the site

Richard Williams, general manager for Glasgow and West at the National Trust for Scotland added, “Mackintosh was a pioneer and a visionary and we’re reflecting that spirit in our approach to saving his domestic masterpiece. This is a project that has been many, many years in the making and it is wonderful to be at the point that we’re now seeing work begin to save such a significant place. What we’re doing here is a rescue plan for the long-term and will, we’re sure, protect this incredible building for future generations.”

The Hill House project was procured through Scape Venture. Mark Robinson, Scape Group chief executive said, “These careful conservation works will preserve and celebrate an important piece of our culture and history. Robertson have a strong track record of restoring heritage sites, a great example of which is the Spanish City restoration in Whitley Bay. By procuring the project through Scape Venture, National Trust for Scotland will benefit from time and cost certainty, with strong project performance derived from collaboration also securing value for money.”