Dumfries and Galloway Council are coughing up £526,000 for the extensive renovations to the McMillan Hall in Newton Stewart, £200,000 over the original £330,000 estimate.
Council Facilities Manager Karen Brownlie told members of Cree Valley Community Council at their monthly meeting this week that work on the interior should be competed by the end of January, She added that the hall was looking “fantastic” and the money had been well spent “preserving a historic building in the town.”
Extra funds had to be sourced after the discovery of extensive dry rot in the window surrounds, delaying the original re-opening date. The finishing touches are the laying of the new floor in the upper hall, painting and decorating and the installation of a new fire alarm. The lift is installed and in working order and new curtains are being hung. The only area that did not get a makeover was the kitchen as Ms Brownlie pointed out any function would have outside catering.
One issue still to be resolved was a new position for the flagpole. To put it back where it was, on a bracket on the north side, would require more consultation with Historic Scotland. Ms Brownlie said that body would possibly then object to a modern fibreglass or aluminium pole. As it was unlikely the new pole would fit the original bracket for the wooden pole, she suggested placing it where the Christmas tree stands during the festive season. She confirmed that the pole would then be removed by the council each year to allow the Christmas tree to go up. Concerns about damage were allayed by Ms Brownlie who pointed out that poles in a similar position in other towns were not being vandalised and damaged. But Mid Galloway Councillor Jim McColm expressed his disappointment that the building and immediate surroundings were not being restored exactly “as it was previously”.
The members were relieved to be told that they would be returning to their customary meeting room and they were also thrilled to learn both they and the press would get a sneak preview prior to the official re-opening.