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Published 15 May 2019

Exciting plans to turn Dumbarton’s historic Glencairn House into a state of the art library and museum and transform the existing library into a public archive are to go to consultation.

Councillors were told of ambitious proposals for the two buildings today at a meeting of the Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development committee.

They agreed that the proposed plans should be taken to public consultation to see what support the project had locally. The consultation will begin on 27 May and run for three weeks, with drop in sessions being held in the Dumbarton area – and hopefully Glencairn House itself.

Findings will be reported back to the next committee in August, when Councillors will make a decision on the future for the buildings.

Councillors heard how proposed new Glencairn House would include dedicated spaces for children and families, computer use and quiet study alongside a wide selection of fiction and non-fiction items in a variety of high-demand formats, a relaxing recreational space featuring a coffee station and improved physical access, enabling level access via the main entrance on the High Street, and internal lifts to each floor.

Under the plans, the historic three-storey building would have a new four-storey extension added to the rear with stunning views over the River Leven and Dumbarton Castle.

view of the back of the building over the river Leven

The museum facilities would include an entire floor dedicated to local history floor and incorporating an exhibition space. This would be further supported by displays of artefacts throughout all floors of the building.  Items that could be displayed regularly for the first time include a Roman Medallion from 193AD, the bronze ‘Skellat Bell’ from around 900AD, Sir Jackie Stewart’s Dubonnet trophy, and fine art from the Overtoun Collection.

Alongside the library and museum, the proposals would also turn the B-Listed building into a social hub, offering meeting and event spaces for community use as well as a flexible event area for exhibitions and public displays.

It would bring the library back to the heart of the high street, where it was originally located originally located in the 1830s.  

The current Dumbarton Library building, on Strathleven Place would be transformed into a community collections store and archive, open to the public. This new facility would, for the first time, enable access to the stored objects and documents in West Dunbartonshire’s heritage collections. It would also create new and exciting opportunities for the local community and visitors to the area to engage with, explore and learn more about the collections. This includes access to a huge volume of documents that describe the history of the area such as a letter under the Privy Seal of James III; a charter signed by Mary Queen of Scots; and a Commission by King James VI to the Baillies of Dumbarton to apprehend and try persons suspected of witchcraft, signed by the King himself.

Artist impression of the library

Councillor Iain McLaren, Convener of Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development, said: “This is a very exciting proposal which has really considered how Dumbarton’s oldest building and current library building can both be put to their best use.

“Protecting the history and heritage of this area is hugely important so I’m glad to see officers have not only thought of Glencairn House but also considered a new sustainable future for the existing library building.

“I hope everyone takes the time to be part of the consultation in a few weeks, as the views of residents and community groups are extremely important and will shape the way in which this proposal can be taken forward.”

Councillor Marie McNair, Vice Convener of Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development, added:  “West Dunbartonshire has a lot of history to celebrate and this proposal is very promising in terms of not only bringing such a historic building back to life, but also having a space to display our heritage collections for the public.

 “I look forward to hearing what public opinion is following the consultation.”