The Ardross-man


Building works

Crystal clear

After what seems like an eternity, the windows in the Training Room have been completed – and they look fab!

Here is what they looked like before –

The wood was rotten (in fact one of the arched windows fell out when we removed the plaster work around it) and every pane was a different type of glass – frosted, clear, opaque, patterned with dimples, patterned with ridges, tinted, mottled – you name it, it was here.


The wooden windows are exact copies of what was there before even down to the small square opening segment in the middle of the square windows.


With a new coat of paint, the new windows look absolutely fabulous compared to the old, rotten ones.


Now we need to focus on the metal protective covering which is on the outside wall of each window.


These are badly rusted and damaged causing rust to flow down the external stonework so they need removed, de-rusted, repaired and re-painted – if that’s possible. If not, they’ll need replaced.

Onwards and upwards. 😀

Getting there

Yes, I’ve had a lot of setbacks with this Training Room; the water ingress, the plasterwork, the rotten windows, the wrong size windows, the wrong size glass, etc. etc. but through it all Paul Marchetti, builder extraordinaire, has shone through. He tackles every problem with a shrug and a smile and just gets on with the job. Likewise his partner in crime, Peter.

And so, we are finally getting there. The window glass is ordered and in the meantime, the room has been framed off.

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Next stage was to put in insulation between all the frames leaving a gap between the insulation and the stone wall to allow air flow and prevent a build-up of sand and dirt again.

The room is starting to shape.

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The next stage was to take one of the windows out so that it can be sent to a specialist wooden window making company and exact copies can be made. Paul undid a screw at the top of one of the arched windows…………and the whole thing fell out. :-/

Luckily, Peter was there to catch it and between the two of them they managed to lower it to the ground. The frame was a mess, completely rotten.

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Then came the plastering and the painting of the walls and the building of an internal cupboard.

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A lick of paint and that’s one wall done.

The big job ahead is to do the same to the other three walls, two of which contain the windows – and all of this is only if we find the next lot of funding.

I can’t wait to see the windows boxed off internally with shelves below each of them. 🙂

But then the tea/coffee area needs to get built, everything painted, carpet and floor coverings put down – and even then we need to look for funding for the equipment to go in the room (SMART Board, meeting room tables, chairs, dry wipe board, flipchart, WiFi, breakout sofa area, etc, etc.

One step at time though…..we’re getting there. 😀


Well, after the saga of the windows being made to the wrong size (see my What a Pane! post), I kinda hoped it would be plain sailing from here on in with the Training Room windows – but no!

Even although the windows are exact copies of what was in previously, there seemed to be some miscommunication with between the window makers and the glass makers and the builders.

Paul Marchetti and Peter put the glass into the small square windows and got them in okay – even the small opening segment in the middle top was duplicated.


With a new coat of paint, the new windows looked fabulous compared to the old, rotten ones.


Then Paul and Peter put the arched panes of glass into the arched windows – still going well.

But then disaster struck again – the square shaped panes below the arches were too small. 20mm too short to be exact.


So near and yet, so far!

Paul’s having to drive into Glasgow to get the glass especially cut again. Nightmare. :-/

A real pane!!

In one of my last posts, What a Pane!, I explained how we found that the windows in what will become the Training Room were rotten and falling out and how this added a substantial amount of money (which we didn’t have) to the overall cost of renovating the room.

Well, after weeks of getting the windows specially made to fulfil our conservation remit, we finally got the small square ones delivered.

Paul Marchetti (our builder extraordinaire) spent two days carefully taking sections out and undercoating them in the best possible weatherproof paint to protect them against the salty wind and rain of the east coast of Scotland.

But on the third day, disaster struck –

On a whim, Paul measured the windows and realised that they were 9cm too small. Somehow the window makers had got the sizes wrong. 😦

Paul had to rush into Glasgow to tell them while calling the glass company to ensure they hadn’t cut the glass yet for each small pane.

Yet another setback!




The Mystery of the Church Hall extension

You may remember, in a recent post (Sexy Mary) I explained how we had a visit from a former Ardrossan resident, Mary Buswell, and how she thought the small hall room which we aim to turn into a Training Room was much larger when she was a child?

I thought this explained why the buildings were named as “Barony St John Church & Halls” (halls, plural). The Training Room was at one time much larger and therefore another hall.

I also thought that this would explain why the back wall of the Training Room is made of brick and the rest of the walls are stone – maybe the room extended down along Princes Street and at some point in the past, the adjacent land was sold and the building “squared off” cutting it in half?

Well, now I’m not so sure again.

You see, the architects involved with compiling a feasibility study for the former Barony St. John’s church building found this street map of Ardrossan dated 1910.


The first thing that struck me was the shape of the hall building.

The current shape is an L-shape but this map showed a straight building parallel to the church building and linked via a corridor.

So, here’s a photo of the hall building – and as you can see, there is a bottom spur attached to it to give it its L-shape (this is the Training Room);

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Now take a closer again at the roof above the red side door in the photos – it looks weird doesn’t it? Like it’s been added on as an afterthought.

Looking at the 1910 map, I’m thinking that the side door and the main body of the building were all that was there when the hall building was built in 1889. I’m thinking the Training Room section was added on at a later date, obviously after 1910.

With this in mind, I walked around the building to the back area –

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Now, you can clearly see where the wall is different. The stone wall stops at the corner and is replaced for the length of the Training Room by a brick wall (which is why Mary might be right in thinking this room was larger). It then goes back to stone, level with the main hall building, then switches back to brick before going back to the stone of the main church building.

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Now this middle stone section is also shown on the 1910 map because the church hall building and the church building are level, connected only by a recessed corridor.

You can see from the photos below that there used to be a window in the original back wall that has now been bricked up. In fact, it was easily seen when we took the plaster off the walls while renovating the toilets last year –

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So, I think at some point after 1910 the building was altered, probably to install toilet facilities. The corridor was extended level with the rest of the external wall and a kitchen and small room (which may or may not have been larger than it is today) were added. This whole new section was then roofed at right angles to the main body of the church and hall buildings giving the roof its odd look.

Now this is good news because trying to find someone alive today who remembers the original buildings of 1889 is impossible and although finding someone who remembers them from 1910 is a similarly impossible task, if the building was altered after 1910 to include indoor toilets, this may mean that the alterations never took place until the 1940’s, 50’s or even into the 60’s – which means, someone may still be alive who can tell us exactly what the buildings looked like and how they have changed over the years. 😀

If you think you can help, have a photograph or know of someone who may remember the original layout of the hall building, please get in touch.

You’ve got to Laugh

This is the door in the hall building that leads to the church building. As you can see by the Health & Safety notice on the door, I haven’t lost my sense of humour. 😀




I was hoping to get my electricity meters replaced with SMART meters but when the electrician came to look at the connecting fuse box he told us he wouldn’t touch it.

Apparently the age of the box meant it was unsafe and so we had to call in a specialist company.

What I thought would be a simple job turned into a major operation!

First, paving stones were lifted and a hole dug outside of the church building and the old electricity cables were exposed.

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Next day, the engineers came out in force and we opened the double doors of the main church building to let them gain easy access to the fuse box cupboard.

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Finally, the new wiring was connected and the hole eventually refilled – but it took three vans from the electricity company and six staff to do the job.

I think the locals are getting used to seeing work vans parked on the pavement outside these buildings now. sorry for any inconvenience.

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What a pane!

What a pain (or should it be pane?)!

Having made the small hall room completely safe by taking down all the loose and cracked plaster work it has revealed a problem we had not accounted for –

The window frames are rotten and urgently need replaced! 😦

We had not planned to do the windows as part of this room renovation project but once the internal double glazing and the surrounding plaster was taken off around the windows, they have become unstable and the two arched windows have had to be kept in place via a wooden strut.


You know, when I took the above photo, I never even thought to ask why there was a beam of wood holding the windows in place. Well, now I know!!! 😦

It appears that decades of wind and rain have taken its toll on the wooden frames of these windows and they are now suffering from a bad case of wet rot and this in turn has rendered them unstable and they may even fall out of place.

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Additionally, a lot of the glass has been cracked and/or broken over the years and these cracks and holes are also letting in water.

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And, as you can see, as the years have gone by various panes of glass have been replaced – some by Georgian wire glass, some by coloured glass, some by dimpled glass, some by striped glass, some by frosted glass, etc. etc. etc. etc.

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I should’ve guessed that the windows would be a problem because the outside of them have wire protector grills covering them and these are showing signs of decay and rust too – a possible sign that water may be getting into the building.

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What a nightmare!

This revelation will not only set our timescale back for the opening of the Training Room but will also set back our funding too. We simply cannot afford to replace the windows.

Well, that’s not strictly true – we could maybe scrape up some funds to replace the windows with new PVC windows, but this is a listed building. Any replacement windows have to be wooden and of the same shape and design as the existing windows. This, unfortunately, costs a lot more as we need to get in a specialist company to hand make each window.

The good news is that the Planning Department has given us the go ahead to get them replaced due to the urgency of their current precarious condition. I am now in the process of contacting Historic Environment Scotland to see if they can help with an emergency repair application for nearly £5000.

Fingers crossed.


……Okay, our “little job” of clearing the small hall room of debris had turned into a mammoth task.

Paul and Peter (our builders from P&M Property Services) had to don coveralls, face masks and hard hats as dirt, sand, plaster, rubbish and debris of all sorts rained down on them.

There were even shells img_2695amongst the debris!

We’re guessing that some of the sand used to mix the cement between the sandstone blocks of the walls may have been taken directly off the beach in front of our building.

Strangely, as the dust settled, Paul was left covered in white dust and Peter was covered in black dust.

I’m wondering who’s the saint and who’s the sinner. LOL 😀

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And the van load of rubble bags turned into several van loads….

img_2704 img_2707img_2703But at least all the precarious plaster, rubbish and debris has now gone from the small hall room and it’s now safe to enter the room.


But we need about £20,000 to transform the room into a Training Room – so if anyone reading this knows of a sponsor, funder or someone willing to donate money towards what will be a great room for our charity when dealing with female and child victims and the most vulnerable groups of our society including people with disabilities and the elderly, then please get in touch or click on the “Donate” button on our website

I’d like to say a huge “Thank You” to The Hugh Fraser Foundation for donating £7,000 towards this project.

Every £1 helps and goes directly to this project. No-one at the charity gets paid (including myself) and all the money donated is accounted for to a Board of Trustees and OSCR (I say this to put people’s minds at rest, as far too many charities pay their CEOs a fortune or siphon money into other costs / salaries before they fund the project they are highlighting. We are not one of those charities!)

Many thanks for your help and support, in advance.

Alan – The Ardross-man


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