Published 19 April 2023

Dumbarton’s oldest building will be given a new lease of life after ambitious plans to create a state-of-the-art new library and museum were approved this week.

Glencairn House, in Dumbarton’s High Street, will undergo a major transformation which will include the construction of a three storey extension to create extra space to house the library and museum.

The property with its well-known arch windows has stood vacant for the last several years and will undergo a meticulous restoration of the existing structure while preserving its historic elements. As well as dedicated spaces for children and families, it will provide access to computers, quiet study areas and relaxed meetings spaces.

In addition, a standalone children’s library pavilion will be created at the back of the building, opening out onto a library garden centred on the existing tree which will become the garden’s ‘storytelling tree’.

Museum displays will be integrated throughout the building, featuring key objects from the Council’s museum, archive, and local history collections that tell stories of Dumbarton. Items on display will include some of the oldest in the Council’s collection, including a Roman Medallion from 193AD and the bronze ‘Skellat Bell’ from around 900AD.

The approval marks a significant milestone for the iconic property and the project to bring it back to life, which was one of three projects in West Dunbartonshire awarded a share of £19.9million in Levelling Up Funding.

Members of West Dunbartonshire Council’s Planning committee discussed the report on the project, before agreeing the proposals will be taken forward.

Councillor Lawrence O’Neill, Chair of Planning committee, said: “We are thrilled to have this project approved and taking a significant step in the regeneration of Dumbarton town centre. We are committed to preserving its historic significance while creating a modern library and museum that will serve as a valuable community asset for generations to come. It’s taken significant work from the teams involved and we’ve appreciated all the feedback from residents on this project.”

Councillor David McBride, Convener of the IRED committee, added: “I’m really pleased and excited to see how this project is going to reshape this historic building, while giving a nod to its historical significance in the design through the proposed colour palette and materials. There will be many people from the area that will remember it being open and know the potential of the building and now we’ll be able to create new memories for the future generation.”

The current Dumbarton Library building will be transformed into a community collections store and archive, open to the public. This new facility will, 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.