Robertson construction of school in Fort William

Gaelic Primary School, Fort William


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Fort William
The Highland Council
July 2015
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An environmentally sustainable building for the community

Robertson Timber Engineering and Robertson Northern combined to deliver the new Gaelic School at Caol near Fort William. This environmentally sustainable building was constructed in tandem with a variety of social value initiatives for the community.

Combining timber frame and steel frame

Robertson Timber Engineering produced the frame for the single-storey school construction. with Robertson Northern constructing this as well as the accompanying two-storey, steel-framed multifunctional community hall. The roof and walls are clad in stainless steel and timber.

We also incorporated a glazed system for the sports hall. This mitigated objections regarding the restriction of views from Ben Nevis, and helped win acceptance of the new facility among local residents.

Watertight on time

A crucial deadline was to get the building watertight on time. On the west coast of Scotland, weather is a challenge, but this was achieved through good teamwork and extra hours at critical times, allowing construction to progress smoothly.

0.7 tonnes

subsoil reused onsite

1.66 tonnes

construction waste diverted from landfill to recycling


biomass boiler for low-temperature hot water

This is one of a number of renewable energy installations Robertson has completed for Highland Council, and creates a strong portfolio of properties delivering a steady cash flow for the local authority: The Council will receive Government-funded payments for 20 years through the Renewable Heat Initiative.

Social value initiatives for the community

The client, wider local community, children and teachers love their new facility. It has become an important economic asset and part of the vital education infrastructure of Fort William and Lochaber.

Local employment

Five local apprentices were employed as part of our employment skills plan. Apprentice trades included plumbing, scaffolding, electrical engineering and administration.

Community engagement

  • Five engagement initiatives, which included site visits for nursery pupils and teachers, primary pupils and teachers, and college lecturers.
  • Food hampers were gifted to elderly people in the local community.
  • Weekly tours were provided for interested local residents.

Community sustainability initiatives

  • Free timber and topsoil was made available to local residents.
  • 20 tonnes of rubbish was removed for residents.

Charity contributions

  • Local charities were supported with donations given to Fort William Football Club, Lochaber Pipe Band and Songs for Dawn.
  • Lochaber Agricultural Show was also supported

Chairman of the Highland Council's Education, Children and Adult Services Committee, Councillor Drew Millar, said: "The development of the Gaelic language and culture will be greatly enhanced by this new Gaelic Primary School. Bilingual education has been widely acknowledged as having wider educational benefits, and this facility will also help to develop and sustain the Gaelic language among young people in the area."