Let it be recorded in the history books that the future of Crossbasket Castle was saved when in 2008, Glasgow businessman Steve Timoney and his wife, Alison Reid-Timoney were driving by and noticed the dilapidated, but charming building peeking through the trees in High Blantyre. Charmed them it did and a positive new chapter was about to start, sowing the seed of possibility.
With actual opportunity arising in 2011, the Timoneys purchased the Castle and its associated beautiful grounds of 14 acres, with a few acres being bought nearby for the construction of new homes by acquaintances of theirs.
2011– Crossbasket Castle and the associated grounds were purchased in 2011 by Steve and Alison Reid-Timoney, with their intention to complete an authentic refurbishment of the Castle including the addition of a substantial new medieval styled ballroom. This was the first time since the days of George Neilson that somebody had purchased the property with the intention of dramatically improving it. Their vision also hoped the building could be managed and preserved for future generations to enjoy.
Respecting the privacy of Steve and Alison, I decided not to research their background story and purposely have not pursued them for it. After all, this is the present and contemporary events with contemporary people living their lives. However, this book would not be complete without this important chapter, and what I will include, is the tremendous positive impact they have had on Crossbasket itself. Indirectly, an insight into the kind of people they are. I will leave it to future authors and historians to write up the background stories of these remarkable people.
Their key driver in their decision to purchase the property, which by then had been badly vandalized and left all but derelict, was to develop a very exclusive events venue in the style of the original Castle, with all the drama and opulent luxury expected with a building of this nature. A five star luxury venue was the goal.
It was important for them to deliver an authentic period restoration but to also increase the capacity of the venue to maximize its appeal, ensuring it was a suitable enterprise and to offer some kind of flexibility in its use. This would ensure the survival of the building indefinitely. Exclusivity is the name of the game. The building was not initially going to be a hotel, a tearoom, or dinner venue as were rumours circulating in Blantyre at the time. It was going to offer a first class, exclusive experience for top end weddings for brides, grooms and their families.
2013– Renovation commenced on the exterior of the Castle, including stripping back the roughcasting to expose the underlaying original stonework, which was still in good condition. This was an extensive, careful initial phase of the renovation, which saw Crossbasket Scaffold covered in scaffolding for much more than a year. The building listed, work had to be compliant and in keeping with the character of the building, using permitted materials.
The render and roughcast was completely removed, not just on the entire outside of the building, but also on the inside walls of the spiral, stone staircase in the tower.
The detailing, battlements and corbelling were all cleaned with broken or damaged masonry removed and replaced.
The waterproofing on the roof stripped back and new layers of waterproofing added, as well as new flashings and slates on the tower garret. This was to be a grand renovation!
Extract from “The History of Crossbasket Castle” by Paul Veverka (c) 2015
Photo: Jim Brown