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Restoration makes the best features even better

Updated: Jun 29

On my recent trip to the Donegal area I found a wild coastline where most of the houses had been upgraded and that left me wondering where were the older properties?

Every hillside was covered in properties that had recently been completed to a high spec and had panoramic views over the bays.

As I explored more it appeared that these were holiday homes and that the locals struggle to afford homes in these remote areas as is often the case in the similar popular locations in Scotland's coastal areas.

There are still some amazing old buildings to be found but they are such an exception that I started to photograph them as I felt they wouldn't last much longer before they are modernised!

I love the colours of paint on the side of the green tin house standing proudly on the island of Arranmore looking down on the harbour. There I found some more items producing what is often called patina which, in this case, is formed in a mixture of rust and salt deposits.

When looking for items that I want to restore I often find items that have aged well and when restoring them I want to hold on to this patina but make the item as beautiful as it was when it was new.

One such item I have just finished is this set of Harrods scales, and, while the cream has been resprayed and the silver housing in the gauge recoated, the wooden foot plate has been restored and varnished to keep its eggshell finish.

I think these scales prove the point that restoration is a valuable process as it not only saves the items being added to landfill - and the corresponding carbon cost of remanufacture and delivery - but also creates a product that has its beauty preserved for another generation. Read more about carbon costs

The India Building on Bridge Street highlights a more local restoration quandary.

While Smith mentions the cost of restoration being greater than the cost of rebuild, this accountancy view negates the environmental costs both in terms of carbon and the materials that are a precious resource. If an owner doesn't wish to look after a beautiful piece of Glasgow heritage then should they be the custodians of them at all? The accountancy view is the problem and by adding the environmental cost of the rebuild to the owner's costs this would change the equation and make it much more expensive to wait on the building to become unsafe and destroyed so that a new building could be erected. I was informed that Barclays Bank were interested in this building, if so was it to restore it or to use the land to erect a new building? If this was true then it confirms that the land is of greater value than the building and, unless the council either prosecute owners for not maintaining listed buildings or the environmental costs of demolition are attached to the existing building's value, then more buildings will be lost and Glasgow will be a less beautiful city.

One of my favourite buildings is the Art Deco building 61 Bridge St

This former Co-operative Society building stands proudly on the other side of the gap site from the India Building and should be a building that draws visitors to Glasgow to see its design. The environmental value of this building needs to be accounted for so that the current custodians know its value as a restored property. An environmental charge would make it much more expensive to rebuild on its site. Well then, Glasgow City Council?

One idea discussed was using VAT - such that the land listed buildings stand on is listed too and any new build on listed land would incur VAT.

Read more about Glasgows Art Deco Heritage

During our trip to Donegal we stopped to visit Glebe House and Gallery

This former rectory built in 1828 was bought at auction in the 1950s by artist Derek Hill and, after living in it until 1981, he gave it with its contents to the people of Ireland. In doing so, like William Burrell, he allowed many people to be inspired by the items he had collected over his lifetime.

Derek Hill used his artistic skills to paint portraits for the rich and famous but also encouraged local fisherman from Tory Island to try their hand at painting.

In his collection it was lovely to find William Morris fabrics which I mentioned in a previous blog about Standen House

His house is full of his art and an amazing array of painting, fabric and ceramics from across Europe . In the kitchen a plate decorated by Picasso can be found along with a large quantity of Wemyss pottery but most special to me were the Wemyss pigs.

See Wemyss Vase and other ceramics for sale in the shop.

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