HISTORIC buildings across Bo’ness are set to open their doors next month – as part of Scotland’s largest free architectural event.
Seven buildings in the town, ranging from a pre-art-deco cinema to a medieval church – are being presented to the public on September 22 and 23 as part of the national Doors Open Days programme.
The event has been organised locally by Falkirk Council in conjunction with the Scottish Civic Trust, local building owners and enthusiastic volunteers.
On show will be:
• Carriden House – a 16th century towerhouse, now used as bed and breakfast;
• Carriden Church – built in the Romanesque style and opened in 1909;
• Carriden Old Church – built in 1766 and finished in a simple Georgian style;
• Kinneil House – with its impressive renaissance wall paintings;
• Kinneil Church – which dates back to the 12th century;
• The Hippodrome – Scotland’s oldest surviving purpose-built cinema; and
• Dymock’s Buildings – one of the old dwellings in Bo’ness town centre, lovingly restored by the National Trust and now used by a housing association.
Opening times will vary over the weekend. Full details are in a new brochure, issued by the Council this week and available from Council outlets, or by visiting the Doors Open Day website – http://www.doorsopendays.org.uk
Geoff Bailey, the keeper of archaeology and local history at Falkirk Council, said the selection revealed the history of Bo’ness from feudal times to the present day.
He said: “In the 12th century, there were small villages at Kinneil to the west and Carriden to the east, each with its own parish church. Each also had a fortified house, belonging to the local lairds, the Hamiltons.
“As time went on these buildings were rebuilt in grander and grander form. Carriden became a towerhouse, and then a large country house; Kinneil became a keep, then a palace – and finally a huge country mansion.
“Meanwhile, the town of Bo’ness grew up around an anchorage between the two older villages. One of the oldest dwellings to survive is today known as Dymock’s Buildings and will be open as part of this year’s programme.
“We’ll also be able to see inside the Hippodrome, the first purpose-built cinema in Scotland, opened in 1911.”
Councillor Adrian Mahoney, the council’s convener of environment and heritage, will be taking part in the event – as one of the Friends of Kinneil volunteer guides within Kinneil House.
He said: “Free Open days like this are always a big attraction – and the high number of buildings being opened in Bo’ness this year should draw in lots of visitors.”
He added: “We’re really fortunate to have such an excellent collection of historic buildings in Bo’ness. They all have interesting stories to tell and portray a range of architectural styles and influences.
“I know Council staff have been working hard to pull this year’s programme together – and should be congratulated on their efforts. We also must thank the building owners and agents who are opening to their doors to the public during this year’s event. Without their support, and the backing on enthusiastic volunteer guides, Doors Open Days couldn’t go ahead.”
Doors Open Days is Scotland’s largest free annual architectural event. It is coordinated nationally by the Scottish Civic Trust and is part of European Heritage Days along side Scottish Archaeology Month, coordinated by the Council for Scottish Archaeology. Both are supported by Historic Scotland and local authorities.
Doors Open Days originated in Glasgow in 1990 where it formed part of the European City of Culture celebrations. The success of the event encouraged other areas to participate the following year and has now grown to cover almost every area of Scotland. More than 800 buildings are expected to open, generating over 200,000 visits to sites and hidden architectural gems of all kinds in locations throughout Scotland.
The event brings together people from all walks of life in celebration of the fascinating architecture that surrounds us and the stories that these buildings can tell. Last year over 4000 volunteers gave their time to run tours, steward sites and activities.