Blair Castle Clock Tower

Following a devastating Fire in March 2011 which destroyed the roof and interior of the Clock Tower, Jonathan Gotelee was contacted by the Blair Charitable Trust. They asked him to lead a team rebuilding the Clock Tower and creating in the tower and adjacent spaces a purpose built Archive, Archivists office and a Reading Room.

The response is pragmatic and aims as far as possible to leave the historic fabric performing in the same manner as it always has, insulation in the walls is breatheable, the waterproofing strategy for the basement allows water to flow and manage its removal. The pragmatic approach did not make the project simple; thorough knowledge of the history was vital to understanding the building’s development and ability to be altered; management of the many different levels was essential to create a simple end result and the careful use of funds was the key to creating easy storage with a stable environment and excellent fire protection.

The only “Architecture” sanctioned by the Trust is the Archive Reading Room, a 3 metre larch boarded cube which takes its materials and selected details from elsewhere in the castle’s history and development and produces a timeless space in which to consult the Atholl Estate Archive.

Specialist knowledge of the effects of fire damage on masonry, how to upgrade historic fabric to current building regulation standards and where to find appropriate specialists to replace or restore damaged items were all required. These included a new bell and machinery from the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, new clocks from Smiths of Derby and, the crowning glory of the project, the repair of the silver gilt finial; it had been damaged by a century of Perthshire weather but survived in the ashes of the fire. Hall Conservation of Greenwich took the remains and, in collaboration with the team, researched the finial's history, tracing contemporary photographs and similar finials and used the evidence to return the finial to its full splendour.

The project was started at Purcell Edinburgh and completed at JGA.

Design Team

Architects: Purcell Edinburgh/JGA
Quantity Surveyor: Thompson Gray
Structural Engineers: Elliott & Co
Mechanical and Electrical Engineers: Irons Foulner

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Blair Castle Clock Tower
Archive Reading Room
Clock Tower after fire
Remains of Finial
View looking down into the burnt out Clock Tower
Completed Archive Reading Room
Completed Clock Tower and Finial