Queen's View Visitor Centre, Perthshire
Get in touch
A brush with history
As part of our contract to renew the Forestry Commission's David Marshall Lodge near Aberfoyle, we also undertook the extensive refurbishment of the Queen's View Visitor Centre in Tay Forest Park.
Beautifully located overlooking Loch Tummel in the heart of Highland Perthshire, Queen's View is the area's most popular visitor attraction. However, the existing buildings needed to be brought up to modern standards, to be able to welcome the Centre's large number of visitors.
The project was procured through the Scape National Major Works framework. Scape Group is a public sector owned built environment specialist offering a full suite of national frameworks and innovative design solutions.
A brush with history
When Queen Victoria visited the location in 1866, she wrongly assumed that the magnificent view along the loch was named after her. In fact, history suggests that its name was in honour of a queen who lived more than 500 years earlier: Queen Isabella, the first wife of Robert the Bruce.
Located on the site of an old farmstead, visible on an 1860 map of the area, the buildings housing the Visitor Centre used to serve as an old forester's cottage and a barn for his horses. The structures had been altered many times during the course of their history, which presented a variety of challenges to the refurbishment and repair work.
The project was continuously monitored by archaeological consultant Rebecca Shaw, and the excavations uncovered some interesting artefacts, such as a perfectly preserved 19th century ink pot along with numerous pieces of pottery and ceramics.
"As the client, I could not be happier with what has been delivered."
A sensitive environment
Such historic and natural settings demand a respectful stewardship approach. The old buildings were, for example, home to bat colonies. We used bat access slates to help create a larger habitat for the animals, and ensured that their roosts were not disturbed. Water supply was a constant issue on site. We introduced an efficient rainwater harvesting system, using the recycled water to mix concrete and flush toilets. We then successfully upgraded the freshwater supply for the buildings, introducing a new holding tank for water from lochs and streams uphill.
Learning on site
We held many educational site visits during the project. Two of these were with NC and HNC students studying Construction Management at Perth College. For many of the students, it was their first visit to a construction project and was a great opportunity to hear from the Project Manager, Andy Gillie who had himself progressed with Robertson to the role of Site Manager after completing an HNC in Construction Management.
The benefits of the visits were summed up by Donald Kemp, Construction Subject Leader at Perth College:
"Thank you for the two excellent site visits that our students undertook and really enjoyed. The visits gave the students a real understanding of how to run a safe, well organised and well-managed site. We can show DVD's and talk about it in college but seeing it happen makes all the difference. The elements of the build that you covered on your walk round also gave them points to consider because sometimes drawings do not show all the problems that you can encounter on site."
A successful partnership
The new Queen's View Visitor Centre opened its doors to the public in June 2014, providing a comfortable cafÃ©, a well-stocked gift shop and a space to relax while enjoying the spectacular views. The surrounding woodlands are ideal for walking, cycling, visiting the Pictish hill fort at Grandtully, and learning more about Perthshire's famous Big Tree Country.
Behind the success of this often challenging project lies the tireless work of the entire project team, the Forestry Commission and our Project Manager Andy Gillie. This great partnership is epitomised by the kind words written by Hamish Murray, who is the Communities, Recreation and Tourism Manager of Forestry Commission (Scotland):
"I wanted to write to you to pass on my sincere thanks to Andy Gillie for the significant part that he has played in redeveloping a couple of tired, old buildings into buildings that not only look fantastic but are fit for the 21st century. Throughout this project, I have always found him to be approachable, honest and, above all, professional and with a real passion and care for what he delivers.
He has been, and will be again, an asset to any project team, and has created an extremely positive image of your company. As the client I could not be happier with what has been delivered, and the biggest praise that I could give him is to say that I would not hesitate to use him again on similar projects or recommend him to others."