Published 18 April 2024

The redevelopment of Dumbarton’s oldest building into a library and museum has taken a major step forward as work began on the site this week.

The refurbishment of historic Glencairn House, on the town’s High Street, which will see the iconic building overhauled into a state-of-the-art facility, has now begun marking a brand new chapter for Dumbarton.

The £7.2million project is one of three being undertaken in the area as part of a £19.9 million Levelling Up award made to the Council by the UK Government.

Councillor David McBride, Convener of Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development, who this week broke ground to mark the start of work on the new development, said: “This is a real milestone not just for the redevelopment of Glencairn House but also for the town of Dumbarton, as a whole.

“The building, which has been vacant for a number of years, is central to the High Street and its refurbishment will breathe new life into the town centre, right in the heart of our community.

“These ambitious plans will ensure we have a fit-for-purpose facility that will also recognise and preserve the significant history of Glencairn House.”

Chief executive Peter Hesset, Councillor Mcbride and Martin Rooney and workers

Councillor Lawrence O’Neill, Vice Convener of Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development, added: “Everyone is excited to see the development of Glencairn House into a thriving hub in the centre of Dumbarton, benefitting businesses, residents and visitors.

“This significant step marks a brand new chapter for the town and I look forward to seeing how this project progresses.”

Front of Glencairn House - Chief executive Peter Hesset, Councillor Mcbride and Martin Rooney and workers

The ambitious plans for Glencairn House will include the construction of a three-storey extension to create extra space to house the library and museum.

The property, with its landmark arch windows, has lain vacant for 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 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 will 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.

Clark Contracts, the successful bidder following a tendering process undertaken last year, is the main contractor taking forward the project on behalf of the Council.