Ceremony marks completion of Blue Toon project

The National Trust for Scotland and Tenants First are celebrating the completion of a project to conserve and adapt a group of Georgian townhouses at the heart of old Peterhead.

National Trust for Scotland Chief Executive Kate Mavor will carry out the official opening of the facilities at Threadneedle Street, which provide community care housing for adults.

Following months of careful work by conservation and building experts, the buildings are fine examples of Peterhead’s Georgian heritage. The street facades have been carefully restored to their eighteenth century appearance while the interiors have been remodelled to provide the highest level of comfort.

Trust Chief Executive Kate Mavor said:

“This has been a very exciting project that clearly demonstrates everything that the Little Houses Improvement Scheme stands for – making a difference to communities across Scotland. Not only have we restored a group of Georgian townhouses, but the project has helped to enable a wider programme of regeneration through making a significant contribution to the Peterhead Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme.”

The ground floor property provides wheelchair accessible accommodation for three individuals requiring 24 hours care. The first floor provides three flats, each accessed from the original main door entrances. These are intended for tenants who are able to live more independently but would benefit from the care support available below.

Sandy Murray, Chief Executive of Tenants First Housing Co-operative, said:

“This development is an excellent example of a collaborative project. Initially, we were looking at undertaking the renovation of these historically significant buildings to create much needed housing for tenants who have special needs.

“But, following discussion with the National Trust for Scotland, we were delighted that they decided to utilise their expertise to restore the properties. They undertook to raise the funding to restore the buildings, with Tenants First committing to buy them back, with grant funding from Aberdeenshire Council and loan finance, once the work was completed.

“The National Trust for Scotland and Tenants First have jointly put a lot of effort into including the new members, as tenants, in the discussions to have their input into the design of the restored buildings.”

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) supported the project with a grant of £738,500. Colin McLean, Head of HLF in Scotland, said:

“The restoration of Threadneedle Street has been a real community project. The transformation of these once almost derelict buildings has introduced the rich heritage of Peterhead to people of all ages through creative arts and open days. Now restored, they not only provide a home to local people but inject character into the historic heart of the town bringing a sense of pride to the community as a whole.”

The participation of the future residents has been instrumental to the success of this project. They have worked with the architects and contractors from the outset, as well as leading on Learning activities such as the drama production ‘The Hoose’. It is down to their involvement and the commitment of Willowbank Day Centre, the All Stars, Peterhead Central School, Peterhead Academy and Peterhead Library that the Learning events and activities have exceeded all expectations.

Alongside the building works, the Trust ran a programme of education and access activities, aimed at getting people of all ages and abilities involved in heritage. The highlight of the programme was the drama production ‘The Hoose’ by the All Stars drama group from Willowbank Day Centre, where some of the future residents attend. The play was performed in the Community Theatre in October 2010 and, by popular demand, returned for two additional performances in April this year.

Artwork for inside the completed buildings has been created by the pupils of Peterhead Central School, who worked with artist Jemima Chillingworth and the future residents to create collages exploring the concept of ‘home’. Outside, in the courtyard garden, the entrance gates were designed and in part forged by pupils from Peterhead Academy, working with artist Carn Standing and blacksmith Paul Starr.

Local residents will have the opportunity to see the completed buildings on the Open Day on Saturday 21 May, when the building will be open between 10.30 and 15.30.
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