Major leap for Dunans Bridge Bicentenary Restoration

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Today sees the launch of an IndieGogo Crowdfund Campaign to accelerate the restoration of  the A-­listed, Thomas­ Telford­ designed, Dunans Bridge in Glendaruel.

One of Argyll’s architectural jewels, Dunans bridge stands 16m [45ft] high, crossing Argyll’s own Grand Canyon, the Chaol Ghleann gorge and giving access to the B­-listed Dunans Castle.

This quite glorious bridge is in need of serious repair, part of the first stage in the recently published Conservation Plan for Dunans written by eminent conservation architect, Robin Kent. The plan culminates in the restoration of Dunans Castle itself, in 2019 – into a public building with Visitor Centre, Event space and Lairds’ and Ladies’ accommodation.

The Castle was ruined in a disastrous fire before Charles and Sadie Dixon-Spain arrived, determined, whatever it took, to bring it back into a living and active public life. As can be seen from the photographs above, the bridge is quite simply breathtakingly lovely.

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Over the last six months the team at Dunans has been working through the preliminaries to get the restoration of the bridge going, including producing drawings, defining specifications, undertaking investigatory works and clearing vegetation. The bridge is now ready for the works, and these works need to happen urgently.

As Charles Dixon-Spain [well known to For Argyll as one of its founding directors and a keystone of its operation] says, ‘We’re hoping to gift the bridge the best 200th birthday present it could possibly get ­ – a complete restoration. Sadie and myself are very excited to think that in 8 or 9 months time, the bridge’s future will be assured and we can celebrate our achievement with a huge Bridge Birthday celebration.’ [Sadie Dixon-Spain is the Merida of Cowal’s Walking Theatre Company.]

The Dunans Charitable Trust is making grant­funding applications to Historic Scotland and the Heritage Lottery Fund; but because funding streams are never certain, Charles and Sadie Dixon­-Spain decided that an Indiegogo campaign would be the ideal way of raising the profile of the bridge and also raising funds for the restoration and events programme that will be delivered alongside the works.

Culminating in a Bridge party in late summer 2015, the works will last between 6 and 8 months, restoring the bridge to a pristine state in its bicentenary year. The 200th anniversary of Thomas Telford’s completion of the bridge is worth celebrating in itself, and preparing the bridge for a further 200 years of service is a fitting gift to the structure.

The IndieGogo campaign will also mark the first and only time that the title Laird or Lady of Dunans Bridge will be available. As a perk of contributing to the campaign, the title, and sundry other benefits, like scarves, ties and personalised email addresses, will be augmented with a permanent record of the names of Contributors, online, by the Bridge and, once restored, inside the castle too.

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The webpage for the Dunans Bridge Indiegogo campaign is here, for all the support it can get.

Charles and Sadie, along with the team at Dunans, have been working tirelessly over the last few years, particularly since the beginning of the Scottishlaird Project in December 2007 to restore Castle and Bridge. With over 120,000 Lairds and Ladies [see note on this initiative below] now supporting the project, and providing over 5,000 visits to the site in 2014 alone, this campaign has every chance of reaching its target of £411,600 as well as making a significant and lasting contribution to the local and regional economy.

VisitScotland figures show that these 5,000 visits are worth a total of £2M to the local economy, with visits to Dunans being the primary motivation behind the visitors trip to Argyll [from within the UK] and Scotland – for these international Lairds and Ladies.


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