Leighton Library restoration update

Conservation experts have been working on the distinctive stone feature on Dunblane’s historic Leighton Library building.

You can register to attend an event detailing the story of the renovations so far which is being held in the Cathedral Halls on the 1st June.

Article from Stirling Observer 6 January 2023

The carved tablet, or cartouche, on the A-listed building’s east facade was removed early November.

It is part of a restoration project estimated at around £460,000 at Scotland’s oldest purpose-built library, built in the late 17th century.

Edinburgh-based conservator Graciela Ainsworth – who restored the statue of John Cowane at Stirling’s Cowane’s Hospital – took the cartouche to her workshop in the city to assess its condition to recommend conservation treatment.

The Leighton Library Trust has now applied for listed building consent ‘to repair the cartouche removed from the east elevation and currently in storage and then, following repair, to reinstate the cartouche in the niche on the east elevation’.

It follows consent for its removal which was granted in 2021.

The latest application includes a document from the conservator outlining how she aims to proceed with the work.

It states: “Proposed work to repair the cartouche and reinstate it in the niche on the external east wall of the Leighton Library.

“Carefully remove all ferrous fixings. Lessen the dark impervious sulphation layer. Lessen the cementitious residues, being careful not to disturb any early polychrome. Local consolidation and filling of the fractures on the back.

“Supply and installation of new non ferrous fixings, designed to suit the Cartouche and including sall marble repair at the head.

“Reinstallation of the cartouche into the back of the niche. Removal of previous dark cementitious render at the back of the niche, and application of new lime-based render to finish.”

Phase one of the library building’s restoration focuses on its exterior, including removing cement harling and replacing it with lime harling, replacing the crowsteps on the south end, and ensuring chimneys, the roof and slates are secure, as well as renewing windows.

The second phase will involve the conversion of the ground floor room, known as the Undercroft, into a state-of-the-art exhibition and visitor area.

Fundraising for the restoration project is continuing.

Leighton Library honorary treasurer Chris Onslow said: “It has been many years since this wonderful, old and unique building was restored and the Trustees are keen that by restoring the fabric, the legacy of this treasure will be secured for many generations to come.

“We continue to raise funds for the building works, costing around £350,000, and are planning how to raise funds for phase two which we anticipate will cost around £110,000.”

The Leighton Library collection - whose oldest book dates back to 1504 – has been taken into storage during the restoration of the building.

There are around 4500 books which include first editions like The Edinburgh Edition of Robert Burns poems (1787).

The building and collection is managed by the Leighton Library Trust, which originates in a bequest by Robert Leighton who was Bishop of Dunblane between 1662-1672.

By spring 2021 the building restoration appeal had raised £172,000 with generous grants having been received from, among others, The Pilgrim Trust and the Swire Charitable Trust.

Anyone who wishes to discover more about the library or make a donation can contact the trust at www.leightonlibrary.org.uk.


leighton photos 


Original article from 5 November 2022
From Scottish Field
The Leighton library, which is the oldest purpose-built library in Scotland, opened in 1687 and houses not only the private collection of Bishop Robert Leighton but many other masterpieces and first editions such as The Edinburgh Edition of Robert Burns poems (1787). The collection having been added to over the centuries now extends to around 4,500 books with the oldest book dating back to 1504.
The Grade -A library building, located in Dunblane is now 333 years old and is in urgent need of restoration and following a successful fund-raising appeal by the trustees of the library, the restorative works are now ready to go ahead which include repairs to the roof, leadwork, stonework, windows and doors as well as the marble cartouche and other works.
In preparation for the restoration work to begin in mid-November, the library had to be emptied and Doree Bonner International were tasked with the job of packing and storing the book collection alongside twelve chairs of turkie leather and the framed American Atlas maps.
 Emptying book cases 2
The packing of these valuable masterpieces required the upmost care and precision. A small team of Doree Bonners professional expert packers were selected to carry out the job - and as space was extremely limited in the library area there was only room for three packers.
 Books ready for wrapping
Each of the 4,500 books was taken from the bookcases separately and then carefully wrapped using acid free tissue paper, one piece per book, the acid free tissue gives protection to the book covers or bindings which are either leather or vellum. The packers wore white cotton gloves to handle the books, which were changed every day. 
 Book wrapping
The books were then placed in special lidded crates and forty to sixty crates were filled each day; packs of silicone gel have been inserted into each of the crates to absorb any moisture. 
 Book crates in container ready to go to storage
The crates were then carried to one of our containerised vehicles and taken to be stored in one of Doree Bonner’s secure storage facilities. With the library area now completely empty the restoration works will begin and it is anticipated that this will take around four months.
 Library empty
Colin Mcgregor – Special Projects Director for Doree Bonner International commented:
‘We are delighted to be a part of such a major project for the Leighton library, the handling of such historic pieces has been an honour. We look forward to returning the books to their rightful home when the restoration works are complete’
Alan Clevett – Leighton Library Trustee Executive commented
‘The Library Trustees and Executive have been delighted with the service provided by Doree Bonner and their on-site team.  A friendly welcome from the first morning, punctual, and very clear in explaining their daily objectives and combining those with the needs of the library. The team were clearly very experienced in handling rare books and treated them with the same care and attention that the library itself has for them!
Any unforeseen challenges were managed and resolved efficiently, and cooperation was excellent, gaining the full respect of everyone at the Leighton Library.  We hope you will care for our books, and we look forward to seeing them, and your team, when they are returned next year!


Donations can be made at www.leightonlibrary.org.uk



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