Share |
The truths they don't want you to read....

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Lady Matheson Seminary

With the collapse of the regeneration scheme following the withdrawal of funding by the Comhairle has led to five complaints being lodged against a senior officer of the Council.

Am I right in understanding that the person undertaking the investigation into the complaints is the depute to the self-same (very) senior officer?

Lady Matheson Seminary
I have been told that the complaints relate to explicit promises to provide funding, and the provision of misleading and contradictory information to different people - in essence, telling people whatever was necessary to get them to go away, and actually doing something else.

Given that the apparent lack of credibility of the investigation being in any way independent or objective, I think this has the juicy prospect of having to be aired in public.

Confirmation of the names will be very welcome. Wild speculation about the individuals concerned may result in the comments being deleted.


Anonymous said...

What I don't get is why the top of the Chinese takeaway got THI funding for being painted sky blue and this beautiful building doesn't?? Can someone please explain because I really don't understand

Hairy McLairy said...

What? Senior officers of the Council promising one thing in private and doing another thing in public? Well, that's never happened before.

Anonymous said...

There are so few "Senior Officers" left the identiy of this one ought not to be too hard to find. It's not Captain Manwaring but it might be Wilson (although he is pretty far down the evolutionary scale)
Is it "Mr. Steep incline" or "Wee Brae?" Or is it "Mr Shotsighted" or Slighty Blurred.
But there must too be cooncillors who pulled the plug on Major's.
If this building was not worthy of preservation which one is. But don't forget some of the Keith Street and Scotland Street NIMBYS were not at all keen on the prospect of "music" etc in the vicinity of the funeral parlour.

Dr Evadne said...

Can we assume that it is someone from Finance yet again?

Anonymous said...

if music be the food of love play on....

Anonymous said...

5.24PM. You are correct. Many locals objected to noise and trafic and parking in the area. It never recovered from that.

Flirty Gerty said...

@9.57 pm - what? Is this an anagram? Or are you suggesting that Duke Orsino from 'Twelfth Night' was the senior Comhairle officer who allegedly misled the Seminary developers?

Anonymous said...

I notice our convenor is a director of The Highland Buildings Preservation Trust. See :-

HBPT which recently completed work on The Sail Loft in Stornoway, all credit to them. However this was done with a lot of support from the council: How come the CNES saw fit to support an Inverness-based organisation and yet have let go to the wall an island-based organisation with an identical remit?

It's another example of a craven attitude to 'wise men coming from the East' Doubtless the Inverness bods were educated at the very best public schools in all of England; but their Stornoway counterparts would have gone to the Nicolson and consequently weren't nearly so impressive.

Anonymous said...

10:35 There is a lot of truth in what you say but to call the Sail Loft a success is debatable.
It looked grubby soon after "renovation" at a cost of nearly £2million quid. The Planners here are obsessed with using old materials in a modern world and therefore used old limewash on the sail loft which didn't last a dog's watch. The sailloft will fall apart within the next decade -you can hear the woodworm chewing the timbers as you walk by. The Inverness dilidantes took their good share of the 2Million and many of their moves were dodgy at best if not down right corrupt

Anonymous said...

10.35 Whats your point? Nobody forced the council to support HBPT, so what does it matter what school they went to you - racist! Stop blaming the English and take some responsibility for your own. These people get voted in so clearly its what the majority of islanders want. Just like there's F' all to encourage young people to stay because it might make some noise, traffic etc.

Anonymous said...

What is the hang up that Western Isles locals have with the English. Jealousy is a terrible trait as is racism. Why don't you just show the English that you are better? Oh no that wouldn't work would it, because you aren't in so many ways.....

Dr Evadne said...

1.55pm....Possibly not but it would take a better man than me (even though I'm not a man) to find a worse football team than us Englanders have at the moment. If no one understands the term 'headless chickens' consult the iplayer for today's game in Blomefontein. The defending was more scary than an episode of Come Dine with Me. I am sure that all of Scotland are out celebrating.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I missed the email about this becoming a fight over national identity. Who in the Council is responsible for this f*** up, who is being complained about and who will take the rap?

Anonymous said...

12:05 and 1:55
What's your problem- since when did Inverness Dilidantes become ENGLISH??
Not once did I mention English. It is you people who are Xenophobes.

What a pity our neighbours lost 4 -1 today and what a lousy decision to disallow what was clearly a goal.

Anonymous said...

Not better than which English? You decry racism against the English which I have no time for, but then you apply it to "locals" here in your parting shot. Hypocrisy...?

Anonymous said...

1.55 your are definitely not so PC yourself.

Anonymous said...

10.34 swoops in with another assumption.

Anonymous said...

Yes indeed, it's just so hypocritical of the English to accuse anyone of racism...For the Little Englanders, xenophobia is a national pastime. Johnny Foreigner is mocked, no matter who he is or where he comes from. Fellow Britons are mocked, fellow Europeans are fact in their eyes only the English are worthy of being on Planet Earth...and then they wonder why they are so disliked around the world. I would end by saying that they are not all like this but too many of them are.

Anonymous said...

This thread started with some potential, but appears to have totally lost its way, and interest

Anonymous said...

HEAH HEAH but don't blame the Comhairle -(Pronounced KOLA)

Anonymous said...

Because the Scots are so revered around the world aren't they??

Anonymous said...

Shall we get back on topic now?

Anonymous said...

7:30 isn't that typical of you frog-eating Kraut Yankee Englishmen trying to cover up your crude racist tendancies by reverting to the topic of the moment.

Anonymous said...

Can't the Highland Building Preservation Trust be persuaded to take this on? since our council seem are so much keener on bankrolling them than the home-grown alternative?

Can't The Stornoway Trust,the owner of the building, a registered charity after all, apply for some lottery cash themseves to repair what is their own building and now their sole responsibility?

Can't the neighbours, who objected so vehemently to the proposals, come up with some bright ideas? They must be delighted at the councils decision but who is the building going to fall on top of if it isn't them? What do they want in its place - an ugly gap in the conservation area for parking cars and growing weeds? if they get their way, eventually they'll be no reason to come into the centre town, so parking then won't be a problem. Despite an orchestrated campaign against it, the project did receive Listed Building Consent and Planning Permission.

Last but not least, Young Musicians Hebrides, if they are actually serious about preserving Duncan Major's legacy, could perhaps now finally get their act together as they seem so otherwise adept at fundraising.

Anonymous said...

Back on topic. Shouldn't a beautiful building be saved and preserved so that our town doesn't look any more derelict and decrepit than already. It doesn't really matter if the Comhairle cannot decide what to use it for because if they do a good job, it is going to be sought after and then let the planners decide what is appropriate for the area. Either way, where we are now, the place is falling down and is a public disgrace as are many buildings in town....

Anonymous said...

9:46 Speaks sense.

This building is of sufficient architectural and historic significance to justify restoring for its own sake. Once it keeps the rain and the cold out, it will have no problem finding an appropriate new use.

The music school idea should not be discounted though. The two classrooms with their unique raked galleries would make ideal space for music rehearsal and there is a proven need for this in the town.

It is a school after all, so I fail to see what prevents councillors supporting
'Education, Education, Education' as the Labour party until so very recently loudly trumpeted.

Anonymous said...


by: Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953)


MATILDA told such Dreadful Lies,
It made one Gasp and Stretch one's Eyes;
Her Aunt, who, from her Earliest Youth,
Had kept a Strict Regard for Truth,
Attempted to Believe Matilda:
The effort very nearly killed her,
And would have done so, had not She
Discovered this Infirmity.
For once, towards the Close of Day,
Matilda, growing tired of play,
And finding she was left alone,
Went tiptoe to the Telephone
And summoned the Immediate Aid
Of London's Noble Fire-Brigade.
Within an hour the Gallant Band
Were pouring in on every hand,
From Putney, Hackney Downs, and Bow.
With Courage high and Hearts a-glow,
They galloped, roaring through the Town,
'Matilda's House is Burning Down!'
Inspired by British Cheers and Loud
Proceeding from the Frenzied Crowd,
They ran their ladders through a score
Of windows on the Ball Room Floor;
And took Peculiar Pains to Souse
The Pictures up and down the House,
Until Matilda's Aunt succeeded
In showing them they were not needed;
And even then she had to pay
To get the Men to go away!

It happened that a few Weeks later
Her Aunt was off to the Theatre
To see that Interesting Play
The Second Mrs. Tanqueray.
She had refused to take her Niece
To hear this Entertaining Piece:
A Deprivation Just and Wise
To Punish her for Telling Lies.
That Night a Fire did break out--
You should have heard Matilda Shout!
You should have heard her Scream and Bawl,
And throw the window up and call
To People passing in the Street--
(The rapidly increasing Heat
Encouraging her to obtain
Their confidence) -- but all in vain!
For every time she shouted 'Fire!'
They only answered 'Little Liar!'
And therefore when her Aunt returned,
Matilda, and the House, were Burned.

Anonymous said...

Well here’s the thing.

It’s a beautiful building. Worthy of keeping.

Sadly, there are many false ideas about it.

It was a lacemaking school. It had no connection with teaching music whatsoever

The fact that Morrison lived there in his later years was ‘incidental’ only.

It’s a quiet residential neighbourhood. Unfortunately, the issues of sewage, parking, noise etc are rather overtaken by the fact that (as I understand ) the planners and architects rather ignored the fact that they didn’t own the land.they were proposing to build on.

In this instance, perhaps the Council acted properly ?

Anonymous said...

My apologies.

PS - let the building go for housing. Should make three lovely town flats.

Anonymous said...

12 27 Here's not the the thing:-

The answer to your last query as to whether in this instance, the Council acted properly is an emphatic NO.

When it opened as The Industrial Female School its curiculum included lacemaking , tis true, (amongst other things). When it became Lady Matheson Seminary, I believe the curriculum did include music.

Duncan Major gave private music lessons in his 'salone' - this is more than a connection. Duncan Major Morrison lived there for most of his life and this is more than‘incidental’

The issues of sewerage, parking and noise were all presumably addressed by the award of planning permission.

The Stornoway Trust currently own all the land on which they were proposing to build, the architects were well aware of this.

The planning department had no locus as it is perfectly within anyone's rights to go to the expense of applying for planning permission on land owned by others, provided that the owner is informed. This did not apply in this case.

Got any bright ideas yourself as to what to do with it? and, more importantly, how to pay for it now that the Council has lost the THI cash?

Glad you think its a beautiful building and I agree it is worthy of keeping.

Anonymous said...

Major "only lived there in his later years"
Rubbish. He and his sister Bella lived there for close on 60 years.
He will also be rolling in his grave for spelling his name with two "r's"
Major (like the rest of us?) only had ONE R as in MORISON Avenue.
The toff Morisons only had 1 R. So there!

Anonymous said...

12:27 Well here’s not the thing...

In answer to your question whether in this instance, perhaps the Council acted properly ? An emphatic NO

The Industrial Female School did teach lace-making (amongst other things) when it first opened, tis true. However, later when it became The Lady Matheson Seminary, the curriculum did include music. Duncan Major lived there for most of his life so this is more than incidental. Duncan Major earned his income from giving music lessons and his grand piano was kept in the first floor “salone”, again hardly incidental.

The issues of sewerage, parking, noise were all dealt with prior to the award of planning and listed building consents. Luckily no bats were found during the thorough investigation.

The Stornoway Trust (as I understand ) owned all the land on which they intended to build and the architects were well aware of this. The planners have no locus as it is perfectly within anyone's rights to apply for planning permission on land they do not own, provided they inform the owner as they did in this instance.

The statement “Let the building go for housing it should make three lovely town flats” sounds a little passive perhaps, as if these things happened all by themselves and some effort did not have to be made and money raised

Glad you think it’s a beautiful building, and yes, it is worthy of keeping.

Anonymous said...

8:47 PM - You've said exactly what I was going to. Every time the gazette/events monthly/heb news spell it with the two r's I sigh - "The posh Morisons only have one r, two r's is the common way"

Funny thing is that the council can squeeze and twist funding to bring back an old town square that hasn't been there for decades, that nobody has missed. (Then try to shut the toilets and create a building site in the town centre over ANOTHER Summer which I'm sure the tourists just love)

But ensure that funding is secured and used to rescue buildings of importance to the town like the Seminary? Don't be so silly!

It's a fabulous building outside and in, and has been in need of work for 15 years at the very least. Sounds a bit like our Castle really. Is there some sort of dislike about saving Matheson comissioned buildings?

12.27 - As a former pupil of Major's who was taught in the Seminary building, I think I can safely say that the building did indeed have something to do with teaching music, right up until 1997.

Anonymous said...

I’d love to see this building saved but the money (if available) could do more for the heritage of the town if it was spent elsewhere.

With regards to the comments about 2 million conversion of the sail loft. If one bought all the properties when they went on the open market, they'd have cost you 700K. I thought of doing this, not because I am rich but, because I thought it may have made financial sense.
If you went to any bank (even today) wanting to borrow 700K to invest in something worth 2000K they would welcome you with open arms.
However there was a catch as this piece of nostalgia was worth nowhere near the build cost nor the combined ~700K it went on the market for. Someone went off on a tangent on that project and there was no one to reign then in. So despite a massive chunk of public money, the drafty single glazed windows windows are still rotten.
Has anyone noticed the designated parking spaces that were to be leased from the local drinking den – sorry the Harbour Commission? Yes £400 per year for a parking space – have they ever been used, of course not. Where do the residents park - on the street.

Planning – what planning?

A change is badly needed in the planning department. I could rant all day.

Anonymous said...

Could someone remind me what is happening to the Castle ?

Anonymous said...

One of the difficulties of developing these older buildings as I understand it is that, particularly in restricted spaces, unless developed for domestic use, they require seriously significant monies for disabled access, fire egress and so on under current planning laws.

So they're all to fall down because we can't afford to insert a grade A/B lift in ? (Which we can't.)

Anonymous said...

10 35 Although I think the rescue of the SailLoft is a credit to Stornoway, barring a little spalling render, it actually cost nearer £2.5M (I hate to make this counter-intuitive point). In mitigation though, doing work to an authentic standard and preserving important historic fabric is not cheap but will prove worthwhile ultimately.

It is also is true that the final price for the five resulting properties did not cover this investment. The work here could not have been financed by normal commercial means or would have been long ago, which is why a charitable trust, The HBPT was involved.
Both the current HBPT and the now defunct, LHBPT are/ were by definition 'restorers of last resort' ie: when all other commercial means have been exhausted. Only the HBPT remains in existance, so this organisation is the only hope for saving The Lady Matheson Seminary.

Both the Sail Loft and can be descibed literally as 'Charity Cases'. The delicately construed funding profile for The Lady Matheson Seminary at one time had a real chance of success but needed active support and good will from the Council.

What it got was lip service and false promises.

Anonymous said...

where has the money gone insted? Thats right - to the destruction to the historic interior of the town hall.... they botched up their funding for that and raided THI coffers for it intsted

Macky said...

thanks for posting! I hope they are preserving this historical building