First round of £130k revamp of Borders landmark now complete

The first round of a near-£130,000 revamp of a 19th century Borders landmark has now been completed, and a second is already under way.

Monday, 7th January 2019, 3:19 pm
Updated Friday, 11th January 2019, 10:03 am
Restoration work is under way on the Monteath Douglas Mausoleum, near Ancrum. Photo: Borders Aerial Photography.

The first round of restoration works at the Monteath Douglas Mausoleum, near Ancrum, has been completed ahead of schedule and within budget, thanks to mild weather in September and October.

Major repairs have been carried out to its roof and walls, including the replacement of its star-shaped skylights.

Friends group members Nicky Toneri and David Freeman, centre, at the site with funding partners Gareth Baird, right, and Wrens Andrew Millar.

The mausoleum was built in 1864 by Thomas Monteath Douglas, a Victorian soldier, overlooking the site of the Battle of Ancrum Moor at Lilliard’s Edge.

The Bengal Army officer, alive from 1788 to 1868, picked the top of Gersit Law on land owned by son-in-law William Monteath Scott, of Ancrum, as his final resting place.

After the last of his descendants died in 1964, leaving its ownership status uncertain, the building fell into neglect until a group of volunteers took over in 2014, raising £128,894 for its restoration.

David Freeman, chairman of the Friends of the Monteath Mausoleum, said: “Throughout the autumn, the building looked more like a Chinese pagoda than a Victorian monument as it was covered in layers of scaffolding to gain access to the roof.

“Our contractor, Greeenlaw’s Sandy McLean and Co, has carried out meticulous restoration of the stonework, often filling gaps between blocks of stone that were the thickness of a sheet of paper.

“Replacement of the glass stars and clearing many years of weeds and debris from the roof will make a huge difference to the appearance of this architectural gem.

“Scaffolding was removed in mid-November, and the next phase of the work is already under way, repairing the boundary walls and railings on the two-acre site.

“The final phase will improve footpaths and facilitate disabled access.

“The friends will be inviting local people to help complete the work in the spring, with an opening date likely in early summer.”

The work is being funded by grants from the Fallago wind farm environment fund of £59,444, Wren’s FCC Scottish action fund of £59,450 and BCCF Environmental of £10,000.

Wren grant manager Sophie Cade said: “Wren is always pleased to support community heritage projects.

“This unique building is certainly a treasure and, thanks to the hard work of the friends group, I’m excited to see it restored to its former glory once again.”

Gareth Baird, chairman, of the Fallago environment fund, said: “The Monteath Douglas Mausoleum is a unique and fascinating part of the Borders’ rich cultural and architectural heritage, and we hope that it can now be enjoyed by even more residents and visitors to the region.”

A BCCF Environmental spokesperson added: “We find it satisfying when a project we’ve been able to support reaches the unveiling stage.

“Removal of scaffolding is like the birth of a new build.

“While looking forward to seeing the completed works, we must remember that the hard work to get to that stage is down to the many hours put in by the volunteers who comprise the friends. Well done to them.”

The mausoleum is closed to the public for heath and safety reasons until its current restoration is completed.