Bilco ‘hatches’ a successful plan for historic castle project


BLAIR Castle is located near the village of Blair Atholl in Perthshire and is one of Scotland’s most famous landmarks. The category A-listed building is said to have been started in 1269 and has been extensively added to over the years. Blair Castle is now one of the most popular visitor attractions in Scotland with thousands of people visiting each year from around the world to marvel at both the building and its contents.

Blair Castle houses important collections of weapons, paintings, furniture, hunting trophies and needlework and is also the home garrison of the Atholl Highlanders (the only legal private army in Europe).

Maintaining such an historic monument is a massive task, the Atholl Estate employ an army of staff to ensure this iconic property is preserved for future generations. One of the many problems in looking after such a building is the fact that it was not designed with ease of access to the roof in mind. As Angus MacDonald, the Works Manager for Atholl Estates pointed out: “To gain access to parts of the roof involved using loose ladders and having to climb through a small trap door and walk across sections of roof, often in typical Scottish weather!”

From the point of view of both convenience and safety, it was decided to explore other options to make routine maintenance a much simpler task. Following his attendance at a CPD seminar given by Bilco in Edinburgh, Angus decided to invite Bilco to visit the castle and following a site survey and discussions with the Estate office and a Bilco engineer, it was agreed that a Bilco NB-50T roof access hatch would be an ideal solution. The hatch, which is fitted at an angle on the traditional pitched slated roof section, is now easily accessible from the attic space within the castle and gives quick, easy, and safe access to the roof permitting easier movement of maintenance personnel, tools and equipment.

As with all Bilco hatches, the Aluminium NB-50T is manufactured to a very high standard and is supplied fully insulated, meeting all current British standards for air leakage, weatherproof and security, an important issue at Blair Castle. To make sure that using the hatch is safe and simple, it features a robust hold-open arm which locks in place when the hatch is opened. The spring assisted opening of the hatch can be calibrated to suit various locations ensuring a safe controlled operation. Its robust manufacture and ease of operation make this the ideal solution for the castle staff who are delighted that simple maintenance tasks no longer need extensive climbing skills.