History of Lochvale House

lochvale house940

Pre 1800
The land on which Lochvale House was built was formerly part of Wolfgill lands and was in strip cultivation or indeed lying fallow.

1805-1806
The original house was built during the early part of the 19th century, and consisted of three bays with the main entrance facing east, and was a mansion befitting a land owner. Approximately 96 acres of land and gardens were attached to the house along with a small stable block.

1806
The key stone of the inset archway on the south gable of the building has been carved to show the date 1806. The location plan above clearly showns an internal courtyard at this end of the house. It is possible that this area was built up during the alterations of 1860-65. (see below)

1819
The following advertisement appeared in the Dumfries Weekly Journal, January 26th 1819.
LOCHVALE HOUSE

To be Let, and entered to at Whitsunday first, the HOUSE AT LOCHVALE, with the GARDEN, ORCHARD and about 2 acres of land in Grass. The House, which is large and commodious, is situate in a very pleasant and retired part of the country and little more than a mile from Dumfries. The Garden and Orchard contain a great variety of fruit trees and berry bushes of the very best kinds, and in full bearing.
The Premises may be viewed at anytime. Apply to James W. Moys–, writer.
Dumfries 25th Jan 1819.

1840
In December of 1840, the owner of Lochvale House, Mr James Milligan, placed the following advertisement in the Dumfries & Galloway Courier,

LANDS AND MANSION HOUSE NEAR DUMFRIES, TO LET.
To be Let, for such number of years as may be agreed of, either in one or two Lets. The Lands of WOLFGILL and LOCHVALE, consisting of 74 acres, 1 Rood, 31 Falls, Scotch Statute Measure, with Entry at Candlemas first to the Arable Land, and at Whitsunday to the Farm House on Wolfgill and Gillfoot, and Pasture Grounds.

These Lands which are all Arable, are of best quality, distant about a mile from Dumfries, where there are Markets for all sorts of Produce, and ample supplies of Manure. They are divided into convenient enclosures, and well watered.

Lochvale House, Gardens and Offices, with the Pasture field adjoining, extending to about three acres, will be Let either separately, or with any portion of the Ground that may be wished. The House is sufficient to accommodate a large family, Entry at Whitsunday first.

Offers for the whole of these Lands, or for either the Wolfgill or Lochvale division of them, and for Lochvale House, Garden and Offices, will be received by WILLIAM GORDON, Writer, Dumfries; JAMES BROON, Esq., Town-Clerk; or JAMES MILLIGAN, Lochvale House, any of whom will inform as to further particulars. Lochvale 23rd Nov 1840.

1845
The following advertisement appeared in the Edinburgh Gazette, January 1845.

UPSET PRICE REDUCED
JUDICIAL SALE of the lands of LOCHVALE, GILLFOOT, GILLOCH, the divided half of FRANKFIELD, MAINS of WOLFGILL, and Others, lying in the Parish and County of Dumfries.

The reduced upset price of Lot 1st, being the lands of Lochvale, Mains of Wolfgill, the divided half of Frankfield and others, together with the mansion house of Lochvale, offices and park adjoining, has been fixed by the Court at £4800. The lands of Lochvale and others, forming Lot 1st, lie within a mile and a half of Dumfries, and form a compact estate of 76 acres, 2 roods and 17 poles, Scots measure, or thereby, or 95 acres, 3 roods, 15 poles, 29 yards Imperial measure, or thereby, all well enclosed, subdivided and watered. The lands are of a kindly soil and susceptible of still greater improvement. The mansion house is modern, substantial, commodious and in good repair, no cost having been spared in its original construction and completion. It contains dining and drawing rooms, breakfast parlour, and seven bedrooms, kitchen and back kitchen, wash-room with set boiler, cellars, pump well, water closet, and other conveniences. The office houses are suitable and adjacent; the orchard and garden are large and productive. There is a cottage for a servant at a short distance.

The property will be shown by Mr Grierson, at Lochvale; and for further particulars, application may be made to Mr James Wright, Writer in Dumfries.
January 13th 1845.

1860-65
Around this time the original mansion was altered, the two flanking wings were increased to two storeys with pedimented gables, the Roman Doric-columned porch was added during the twentieth century.

1895
The 1895 Valuation Roll for the Parish of Dumfries, County of Dumfries shows the Owner Occupier of Lochvale House to be Andrew Lusk. The stained glass window in the main staircase bears the date 1885 indicating that it was probably installed by the Lusk family.
Further research shows that Andrew Lusk died during 1896.

1897
The following article appeared in the Dumfries & Galloway Advertiser, 10th April 1897.
NEW EDUCATIONAL ESTABLISHMENT FOR DUMFRIES.

We understand that Mr W.B. Gray, who presently conducts at East Mains, Callander, a school for the education of young gentlemen preparing to enter the army and navy, has taken a lease for ten years of Lochvale House, Dumfries, with some of the land adjoining, and intends to transfer his educational establishment to it. He obtains possession in May; but a number of repairs and alterations have to be carried out, and the transference will not be made until the opening of the new session on 1st October. The Let was carried through by Mr James McVeigh, estate agent, Dumfries.

1902
The following advertisement appeared in the Dumfries & Galloway Standard, 22nd March 1902.
DUMFRIES

LOCHVALE HOUSE, near Dumfries, to SELL, with the LANDS, extending to 76 acres; or to LET(unfurnished) and without the Lands. Entry at Whitsunday, 1902. The Mansion House, pleasantly situated 11/4 Miles from Dumfries, contains Five Public Rooms, Eight Bedrooms (two with dressing rooms), and Servants Accommodation. Coachman’s and Gardener’s Houses with Stable, Coach-house, etc. Good Water Supply and Drainage. There is an excellent Garden of about Two Acres.

The Lands are in first rate order and could readily let by a purchaser. Full particulars from Messrs GILMOUR & CHRISTIE, Solicitors, Irvine.

1905
The 1905 Valuation Roll for the Parish of Dumfries, County of Dumfries shows the Owner of Lochvale House to be The Trustees of the late Andrew Lusk, and the Tenant Occupier to be H Leighton Hare.

1908
The following advertisement appeared in the Dumfries & Galloway Standard, 12th December 1908.
DUMFRIES

LOCHVALE HOUSE, near Dumfries, to SELL, with the LANDS, extending to 76 acres; or to LET(unfurnished) and without the Lands. Entry at Whitsunday, 1909. The Mansion House, pleasantly situated 11/4 Miles from Dumfries, contains Five Public Rooms, Eight Bedrooms (two with dressing rooms), and Servants Accommodation. Coachman’s and Gardener’s Houses with Stable, Coach-house, etc. Good Water Supply and Drainage. There is an excellent Garden of about Two Acres.

The Lands are in first rate order and could readily let by a purchaser. Full particulars from Messrs GILMOUR & CHRISTIE, Solicitors, Irvine.

Messrs P Stoble and Son, Dumfries, will give Cards to View the Premises, and will supply any further information.

This same advertisement appeared at regular intervals in the Dumfries & Galloway Standard until March 1910.

1915-16
The 1915-16 Valuation Roll for the Parish of Dumfries, County of Dumfries shows the Owner/Occupier of Lochvale House to be James Clenaghan.

1920-21
The 1920-21 Valuation Roll for the Parish of Dumfries, County of Dumfries shows the Owner/Occupier of Lochvale House to be James Clenaghan, Cattle Dealer.

1925-26
The 1925-26 Valuation Roll for the Parish of Dumfries, County of Dumfries shows the Proprietor of Lochvale House and Offices to be Dumfries & Maxwelltown Education Society per William Moodie, Solicitor, Dumfries. James Clenaghan still owned and armed the lands around the Main House.

1926-27
The 1926-27 Valuation Roll for the Parish of Dumfries, County of Dumfries shows that the Dumfries & Maxwelltown Education Society now had a Tenant for Lochvale House and Offices, namely Robert Thomson, Superintendant.

This suggests that the “Boys Home Trust” had established their Home for orphaned boys, or those that were neglected or destitute, at Lochvale House. They came to the Home from all over Scotland.

1980
The following article appeared in the Dumfries & Galloway Standard, 8th February 1980.

History001The former Dumfries Boys’ Home at Lochvale has been sold – and is to be converted into a 40 unit sheltered housing development. It was revealed this week that work will be started in April this year on the £3/4 million pound complex.

The new owners are the Kirk Care Housing Association Ltd., who set up sheltered housing up and down the country. Controversy started over the boys’ home in August, 1978, when the governors first discussed the possible closure of the 45 year old building.

The final decision to close came at the end of 1979, brought about as a result of the Government’s policy of placing every child who required “care” with foster parents, rather than with organisations like the Lochvale home. Due to that policy the governors found that they were getting totally “unsuitable” types, such as boys foster parents could not cope. At the time of closure there were less than six boys in the home.

This week a spokesman for Kirk Care said they were delighted with the building at Lochvale and had already engaged a local firm of architects to draw up plans. Envisaged is a 40 unit development of single and double flats with a resident warden’s apartment. Every flat would be linked to the warden’s flat in case of emergency.

Sheltered housing is geared towards old people and most of the residents will come from the local area.

With Government grants, the £3/4 million complex will be subject to approval from the Housing Corporation. Kirk Care said they had been in close contact with Nithsdale District Council before putting in an offer for Lochvale to determine the need for sheltered housing in the area. Already they have started a 39 unit complex at Stranraer and are interested in sites in Thornhill and have gained planning permission for a site in Langholm.

At Lochvale development there will be a communal lounge, laundry facilities, guest rooms for visiting families and other amenities. The house will be converted rather than demolished, because of the architectural of Lochvale.

The spokesman added: “We will keep in close touch with the local council when we interview prospective residents. They will be chosen on social, medical and personal needs and we will try as far as possible to meet the local need”. He said that although this was the first to get off the ground in Dumfries, the development would in no way meet the demand in the area.

1980
The following item appeared in the Dumfries & Galloway Standard in November 1980.

History003Councillors are getting together to make plans for the proposed Georgetown Community Centre. The Region’s Education Committee are bringing forward plans to build a community education unit in the suburb. They have agreed to co-operate with the District Council in the scheme. The unit – the plans for which have been brought forward from 1985-6 – will include a lounge, cafeteria, kitchen, meeting rooms, toilet and storage facilities.

Councillor Ronald Jardine listed his reasons for wanting a centre at Wednesdays meeting of Nithsdale District Council’s Leisure and Recreation Committee: “Georgetown and Calside schools are fully booked up and over subscribed. There is a waiting list, a rising one at that of over 100 children for Lochvale House. Cubs and Scouts would have two more packs and groups if they had a meeting place. The Brownies are also in the same predicament. There is no place for a youth club either. Churches and Religious groups also need premises for meetings. The Georgetown Community Council met last night and said that they would be willing to raise some money. Incidentally, that vigorous community council, has difficulty getting a part of the schools to hold its meeting.

The committee agreed that the local councillors should meet and formulate plans for the centre. Councillor Jardine added: “Please could we have the use of the council chambers as we have nowhere to meet in Georgetown.”

1981
The following article appeared in the Dumfries & Galloway Standard, 9th January 1981.

History002The former Lochvale Boys’ Home in Dumfries has not been sold – despite planning approval having been given to a national housing association to convert the building into a sheltered housing complex.

It was revealed this week that Kirkcare Development, and Edinburgh based organisation, does not have the money to buy Lochvale. It is believed that Kirkcare revealed they didn’t have the ash only weeks before the transaction was due to be completed and they have asked for an extension in a bid to raise the money.

The news has prompted Georgetown Community Council to step in with a plan to convince the local authority to buy Lochvale and turn it into a community centre. It was this last minute shock for the governors of Lochvale which prompted Georgetown Community Council to step in and make a plea to Nithsdale District Council and Dumfries & Galloway Regional Council to buy the building for the area. The Community Council wants the local authority to put up the money – around the £50,000 mark – for a community centre. And they claim it would save the council more than £200,000 if they put in a bid for Lochvale now.

The regional council has plans in the pipeline for a community unit for Georgetown but the estimate for building top the £250,000 figure. A spokesman for Kirkcare said: “This is a very sad situation and a most embarrassing one for us. Unfortunately we are dependent on the housing corporation and the government for funding. We did not learn of this until very recently and the trustees of Lochvale have been more than patient with us. And we have tried their patience to the limit”. “We are still very hopeful of acquiring Lochvale but we are dependent on other people. Let us say the matter has been suspended for the moment”.

It is believed that up until November, 1980, the trustees of Lochvale understood that Kirkcare would complete the transaction before the end of the year. At the last minute it was revealed money was not available and Kirkcare asked for time to pay.

This week Miss A.S. Laurie, secretary of the board of governors, said: “As far as I know Kirkcare will still complete the transaction, although there is some financial difficulty at the moment. I am not prepared to say any more at present.”

On Wednesday, at a meeting council’s leisure and recreation committee, the community council called for a meeting between district and region and Georgetown representatives in the hope that Lochvale could be acquired. Community Council chairman Mr John Douglas, said they “had received information” that Lochvale Boys’ Home had not been sold as was previously thought. He understood that the trustees might be prepared to consider an alternative offer and urged the local authority to buy it. Mr Douglas said later: “If the regional council put up the money for Lochvale it would solve a lot of problems and fill a big need in the community.” We understand it would cost them more than £250,000 to build a brand new centre here and if Lochvale was acquired they would also be saving, initially, around £200,000. There would also be revenue savings later and the people of Georgetown, like others, would no doubt be delighted about it.

“When we held a meeting recently to discuss possible sites for a centre we were astonished to hear that Lochvale was not sold. Everyone understood that everything had been finalised but it turns out Kirkcare did not have the money.”

At Wednesday’s meeting Mr Ernest Gibson said: “I believe the trustees might consider an alternative offer. As a councillor I naturally feel this would be an ideal opportunity for the Georgetown area and would welcome it.” It was only last year that plans were approved by the region’s planning committee for Kirkcare to go ahead and convert Lochvale into a sheltered housing complex for old folks, with warden facilities. When the announcement was made that Kirkcare had acquired Lochvale a spokesman said they were very excited about moving into Dumfries for the first time and were looking forward to starting work in 1981. On Wednesday it was agreed to meet with the regional council and Georgetown community council to discuss the plans.

1982
The following article appeared in the Dumfries & Galloway Standard, 9th April 1982.
History004 403

 

 

History005 403If you want something go straight to the top for it … and Georgetown Community Council has proved the saying right. For that’s exactly what they did when they wrote to Marks and Spencers chief, Lord Sieff of Brimpton asking if there was any chance of them gettinga few bits and pieces from the former County Hotel. To strngthen their case they enclosed “Standard” articles and pictures about their community centre – the former Lochvale Boys’ Home – its activities and problems, which we published on January 29 and February 3. The council were quick off their mark when they realised that Marks and Spencers would be getting rid of furniture and fittings before taking over the site for a store … and it paid off. Lord Sieff was obviously impressed with their efforts to set up a community centre at Lochvale House – and their quick thinking – that he immediately wrote back and said they could have what they wanted – and more. Now the Lochvale centre is fully furnished and equipped and eight other local organisations have been given a share.

The community council told Lord Sieff how the centre was struggling to get going and backed up their plea with cuttings from the “Standard”. They explained they had had no cash help from the local authority. Chairman, Mr John Douglas, said he was delighted at the response from Marks and Spencers. He said: “The extent of their kindness has enabled to greatly transform our centre and has given my council great encouragement with our project”.

Mr Douglas, who wrote to the chain store boss, outlined the size of the Georgetown area which had no community facilities. He said: “After much effort and in the face of  a total lack of finance from the local authority, this community has managed, by its own efforts, to obtain a lease of a large house and its in the process of developing it as a community centre.” “I know that the County Hotel contains items of furnishing and equipment presumably now to be disposed of. But they would be of inestimable value to my council in its struggle to develop and equip Lochvale House as our new community centre.”

He said there was a great deal of local excitement about the prospect of Marks and Spencers new store opening, tinged, however, with no small measure of regret on the change situation and eventual fate of the established hotel.

Other organisations benefitting are the day centre in George Street, Nithsdale Community Project, Women’s Aid, R.S.P.C., W.R.V.S., Red Cross, Devorgilla House and the region’s social work department.

Equipment which went to Lochvale included chairs, tables, cutlery, curtains, crockery and others and already volunteers, under the supervision of centre co-ordinator, Mrs Valerie Callander, have been working to place furniture.

1982
This article has been copied from the “Community News No 4,” the newsletter of Georgetown Community Council. Although this document was not dated it appears to be from 1982.

LOCHVALE HOUSE – DEVELOPMENTS

After the rather depressing situation outlined in Newsletter No 3 and the recent stories in the local press, some better news. After a meeting between the representatives of the Community Council and the Trustees who own Lochvale House, Council Chairman, John Douglas, stated that the Council were “optimistic” about a favourable outcome to the Council plans to purchase the building as a permanent Community Centre for the area.

He stated that the Trustees were very sympathetic to the idea of the building developing as a community resource rather than simply being sold off for commercial development. While no decisions have yet been made, the future of the Community Centre looks much brighter than it was at the time of the last issue.

If the Trustees decide to sell to the Community Council, then a massive fundraising drive will be necessary both to purchase and to renovate the building, although District and Regional aid will be sought. More than ever the community will have to decide that if it wants a Community Centre, then it will have to be worked for. At present the signs are that it may well be acquired on a permanent basis. This must be good news for our area.

1983
This article has been copied from the “Community News No 5,” the newsletter of Georgetown Community Council. Although this document was not dated it appears to be from 1983.

LOCHVALE HOUSE – THE PRESENT SITUATION.

At a meeting on Friday 21st January, a further step was taken towards securing Lochvale House as a permanent community centre for Georgetown. The meeting was attended by Regional and District Council members and officials and representatives of Georgetown Community Council.

Community Councillors reminded the meeting of the proven need for a centre in Georgetown based on population, lack of community facilities and the current usage of Lochvale House. It was pointed out that as long ago as February 1981 the Director of Education stated that “there is no doubt at all that the needs of Georgetown Community must be given serious and immediate consideration”. The meeting was reminded that a Community Education Unit/Branch Library had been in the Capital Building programme since February 1981 and that the Regional Council reaffirmed its intentions as recently as November 1982.

The meeting accepted that any community centre should be at Lochvale House rather elsewhere based on availability, the situation of Lochvale relative to the whole of Georgetown and the fact that Lochvale House is a going concern with a proven management structure. Chairman D. Beck expressed the view that any branch library eventually provided should probably be situated in the grounds of  Lochvale House provided that this did not clash with other planned developments. He did, however, point out that there might be difficulties about siting a Regional Council facility on ground not belonging to it.

The financial implications of purchasing Lochvale House were fully explored. The possible means ranged from contributions from each of the three councils to seeking Scottish Education Department Grants to asking for an extension of the lease. The latter was ruled out since it was felt the Trustees of Lochvale House had already been very generous and in any case were in need of their money. The clear  mood of the meeting was a determination to  purchase Lochvale House for the community.

At this point Community Council representatives left the meeting to allow further consideration by Region and District representatives.

Stop Press
At its meeting on 26th January, Nithsdale District Council agreed to allocate £15,000 towards the purchase of Lochvale House. Good news indeed! This, together with the £10,000 available from the Georgetown Community Council, means that more than half of the money is now available. All eyes now look with great expectation, towards Dumfries and Galloway Regional Council.

1984
This article has been copied from the “Community News No 8,” the newsletter of Georgetown Community Council. Although this document was not dated it appears to be from 1984.

DEVELOPMENT PLAN FOR LOCHVALE HOUSE.

Lochvale Management Committee has submitted a £93,000 development plan for Lochvale House for Regional Council consideration. Following the purchase of Lochvale House by the Committee on 31st August, 1983 the time has now arrived to consider urgently the renovation and development of the Centre. The Management Committee have retained Colin Morton (Architect) to produce a feasibility study for the future development of the Centre. The plan involves the renovation and restructuring of the builfing to make it more suitable for Play Group, Youth, Adult and Disabled Groups. The estimated cost of the plan is £93,000. In December 1982 the Regional Council approved the provision of a Community Education Unit/Library for Georgetown as part of the capital allocation rolling programme as follows
1984/85    £220,000
1985/86    £167,000
In view of these figures the Management Committee feels that £93,000 over and above the purchase price already paid is not an unreasonable sum to seek.

The Management Committee, and indeed, the whole of Georgetown looks to both the Regional and District Councils to face up to their responsibilities.

1984
This article has been copied from the “Community News No 10,” the newsletter of Georgetown Community Council. Although this document was not dated it appears to be from 1984.

LOCHVALE HOUSE – MAKE OR BREAK?

A one hundred thousand pound development programme for the Community Centre at Lochvale House now looks certain to start in September, provide the Management Committee can meet its £11,500 share of the costs. This picture emerged after a recent meeting of the Dumfries & Galloway Regional Council and Lochvale Management Committee. Fifty thousand pounds has been guaranteed by the Regional Council towards repairs and development of Lochvale House. In addition Nithsdale District Council has promised to give favourable consideration to a request for money at some future stage of the development.

The Management Committee can also call on £23,000 of unclaimed grant from the Scottish Education Department, although to qualify for any of these grants the committee must first put up £11,500 from its own resources – funds which the Management Committee do not possess. At its last meeting the Management Committee spent some considerable time discussing ways out of this dilemma and various schemes will be presented to the next meeting.

Chairman, Mr John Douglas said: “We have been given encouraging promises of large sums of money but none of this will be released until the Management Committee find £11,500. Work really has to start on the Centre this summer or it will deteriorate further and cost even more to rectify. If the people of Georgetown really want a Community Centre they must be prepared to wholeheartedly support the Management Committee in its fundraising efforts. The supporters of the 500 club have done marvellously over the past three years, but support has now dwindled to about 400 members. There are almost 2000 homes in Georgetown and many hundreds of families use the Centre. If a further 400 subscribers (at £1 per fortnight or £25 per year) would enrol even for one year, £10,000 could be raised without difficulty.”

Mr Douglas went on to emphasise that decision time had now arrived. The Local Authorities having promised as much as is likely in the current financial situation. The Management Committee having established a Centre with excellent potential, it was now up to the residents of Georgetown to do the rest. They must not let themselves down.

1984
This article has been copied from the “Community News No 12,” the newsletter of Georgetown Community Council. Although this document was not dated it appears to be from 1984.

DEVELOPMENTS AT LOCHVALE HOUSE.

The long awaited development of Lochvale House is about to commence. At its meeting on 15th August, the management Committee reported that plans for the £100,000 development had now been completed by Morton Architects. It is planned that tenders should now be sought during September with the aim of work commencing in November.

Amongst the work planned is a completely refurbished, self contained Playgroup wing, providing double the present accommodation a modernised area for the thriving Model Rail Club, New Youth club facilities and greatly improved reception and toilet facilities. All necessary remedial work will also be dealt with.

Chairman, John Douglas stressed that during the renovations all user groups must show the utmost consideration for each other and co-operate fully with the Management Committee in what every temporary arrangements were made. No one group should expect to have priority rights over any other at this time.

During the meeting very strong views were expressed by committee members in view of the works underway, the people of Georgetown should show real concern and willingness to offer help whenever it was sought. All too often the work has been left to a very few overworked volunteers.

1985
This article has been copied from the “Community News No 14,” the newsletter of Georgetown Community Council. Although this document was not dated it appears to be from 1985.
History012
Lochvale Management Committee
AGM
Wednesday, 17th April, 7.30pm

History013It is essential that there is a good attendance at this particular meeting so please do try to come along!

The present committee have done their bit over the past year and new but is now required to form the committee for 1985/86. Anyone resident within the Georgetown area is not only entitled to seek election, but is actively encouraged to do so. No specific skills are required as everyone has something to contribute. Your involvement can be as much or as little as you decide. Age or sex is not a deterrent to seeking nomination, so please think about it.

The committee, however, do desperately require someone with specific knowledge of accounts/book-keeping who is prepared to accept the post of Treasurer, which will become vacant at the A.G.M.

This post is one which requires careful and regular management of our accounts which involve considerable amounts of money. Mrs Trew our daytime manager at Lochvale, can be called upon to assist in the routine work involved and would act under the instruction of the Treasurer.

If you are perhaps a retired Bank employee, Tax Office Accounts Clerk or similar and have some time to spare for a worthwhile cause then we are very anxious for you to join us. The work is absorbing and can be rewarding and you’ll meet many interesting people in the process. If you are prepared to help us, please contact Kathy Trew at Lochvale (Telephone 65749)

1987
The Dumfries & Galloway Standard and Advertiser ran the following article on 25th December 1987.

History009 403Urgent cash aid is being sought to save Georgetown Community Centre from financial collapse. On Friday, talks were held between members of the management committee, which operates the community centre from Lochvale House, and district and regional councillors. The management committee have run up an overdraft of more than £36,000, and unless someone bails them out, the centre will have to close and be sold, to pay off the debt. But councillors are confident that a rescue package can be worked out to save the centre which has been the subject of a £100,000 facelift in the past three years, much of the work being paid for directly by the people of Georgetown.

Lochvale House was bought by Georgetown Community Council in 1981 for £42,500. The Council had previously leased the building for two years since it closed as a boys’ home in 1979. The community council intended to convert the building for community use as a survey they carried out showed that a community centre was a facility the local community wanted. Nithsdale District Council said they could not provide one for  at least ten years. Community Councillors pressed ahead with their plans for the conversion and raised much of the money locally. Grants were also given by the Scottish Education Department, and district and regional councils. The programme of upgrading was completed early this year and the centre officially opened. But even then the shadow of a cash crisis was looming over the management committee.

For some time now they have had an arrangement with their bankers whereby they have been making only interest payments on their overdraft and not clearing any of the debt. But crunch has arrived and the management committee are due to meet with their bankers in the new year and realise they have to be in a position to show they were doing something to resolve the situation.

Management committee chairman John Douglas, feels that Friday’s meeting went well. “There was absolute unanimity that there is a need, and there was a definite agreement that something would have to be done and we should not even allow the centre to close. Not even on a temporary basis”, he said. Mr Douglas says the centre has proved to be a great success in the community and there is a great demand for its facilities by local people, but he foresees even greater use being made of it in the future. “If we did not have to be looking over our shoulder all the time at the financial situation, we could spend more time looking at the development potential in the centre,” he says.

Mr Douglas and other committee members of the management committee hope that, with support from the district and regional councils, they will be able to reach an agreement with the bank for a breathing space which will allow the two local authorities to put together a rescue package for Lochvale House.

Options thought to be under include either district or regional council taking over the building, or reaching agreement to take it over jointly. Councillor Roy Watson, chairman of the district council’s leisure and recreation committee, says he hopes some short term measures can be taken to allow time for a long term strategy to be worked out to secure the future of the centre. He described Georgetown Community Centre as a “highly desirable facility” which clearly received a lot of community support.

At the moment, Georgetown Community Centre is home to one of the biggest playgroups in Scotland, a thriving mother and toddler group and a busy over 60s club, all of which would be left without premises if the centre had to close. Youth clubs and a number of other organisations also run their business from Lochvale House.

 

1988
This article appeared on the front page of the Dumfries Courier on Friday 22nd April 1988.

History007 403A financial millstone around the neck of Georgetown’s Lochvale Community Centre has been lifted. The Scottish Education Department yesterday agreed to waive on the repayment of a £50,000 grant if the running of the centre is taken over by the local authorities. The decision means that both Nithsdale district and regional councillors can now begin “serious” discussions on the future of the closure threatened centre, which as a £37,000 overdraft.

The news was welcomed by Mr John Douglas, chairman of the centre’s voluntary management committee, who said: “It’s absolutely tremendous. It opens the door for the local authorities to open negotiations”.

Grant
He added: “It’s now up to the local authorities to do what they should have done for Georgetown a long time ago.” Financial problems at the centre – the former Lawfield Boys’ Home – began with the need for extensive building renovations. The SED gave a £50,000 grant, specifically for voluntary organisations, towards the cost of repairs and it was feared that this would have to be repaid if the district or regional council took over the running of the centre. District councillor Jean Robison, a former member of the management committee, said: ” The centre was almost at door closing time. The district and regional councils are jointly funding the interest on the overdraft as the centre just couldn’t pay.”

Future
She added: “The Scottish Education Department decision has removed on obstacle. The district and regional councils can now seriously talk about the centre’s future. It hasn’t totally solved the problem but there is some breathing space now.”

Sir Hector Munro MP, who has lobbied Scottish Education Minister Michael Forsyth on the issue said: ” I am delighted for the people of Georgetown who make good use of the centre. Now its future should be assured.”

1990
This article appeared in the Dumfries Courier on Friday 26th January 1990.

History008 403A long awaited bowling green is on the cards for Georgetown. There is excitement at the Georgetown Community Centre, at Lochvale House in the centre of Dumfries’ largest private housing estate. The building has been adopted by Nithsdale District Council and now the Centre management committee is poised to devlop more of the site’s potential.

“This is an opportunity that we cannot afford to miss,” says chairman John Douglas and he is inviting ideas and suggestions to make use of the rambling grounds. Presently a bowling green is heavily backed, but other possibilities include a playground, tennis courts and areas for volleyball and five aside football. A public meeting has been arranged for Thursday, February 1 at 7.30pm to guage support for a green. “There was huge response to it in a survey years ago,” said Mr Douglas, “There is nothing on the Georgetown side.” The bowling will be public although a club may form which will have non-exclusive use of it.

The Centre is home to a number of organisations – over 60’s and youth clubs, playgroup, mother and toddler group, model railway club, Christian fellowship, WRI, keep fit classes and a cafe. A new project has been an after school group in which school children up to the age of 12 and whose parents are working or are in full time education, are supervised.

Lochvale built in 1806, was a boys’ home before Georgetown Community Council leased it in 1981. The Council then bought it with grants from the Scottish Education Department, the local authority and their own funds. Various cash crisis have threatened to swamp the project in those ten years until the District Council agreed to take on the building six months ago.

“It’s a tremendous jump forward. We have thought about developing the grounds for a long time but all our energies have had to go into renovating the house and fund raising. Now we are able to start looking at ideas,” said Mr Douglas.

 1994
This article was reported in an edition of the Georgetown Community News, unfortunately this publication carried no date, best guess is 1994.

History010 403It’s been a red letter day for Georgetown’s Community Centre. The building has been extended, given a fresh face with a new coat of paint and is now playing host to a range of big events which are demonstrating what a flexible facility it is.

The £85,000 extension, creating a new purpose built hall for functions, shows and other events was followed by a donation of £450 from builders Robison and Davidson which, in addition to a £1500 grant from Nithsdale District Council, allowed the centre’s management committee to buy the furniture the new History011 403extension needed. Then came a centre facelift when it got a fresh coat of paint and work has just finished on the installation of a playground system within the grounds. “It has undoubtedly been a great year for us,” says John Douglas chairman of the centre’s management committee.

“We are now pushing hard to promote the facilities we have and to encourage people to think about using the centre for a wide range of events,” he says. The management recently staged a fashion show, not just to raise funds, but to help demonstrate the versatility of the centre which has also been the venue for groups and organisations displaced from other halls. St Michael’s Church, for example, held a social evening in the Georgetown Centre because there own church hall was too small.

The extension has brought in people who would have no normal connection with the centre, letting them see what facilities are on offer. Given that one of the principal tasks facing the management committee at the moment is the promotion of the facilities bringing new people who have never seen inside the centre before through its doors is vitally important. The fact that the centre has had such a radical overhaul means that it is now available for a much wider range of events and uses than it was before, something the management committee realise they have to reinforce in the minds of local people. “we are taking a hard look at our after school care provisions. Can we, for example, fund the appointment of someone to work, perhaps 25 hours per week to mange the after school and nursery provision we offer,” says Mr Douglas.

The management group is also having to look to appoint a caretaker. As the demand for the centre increases there is an increasing demand for someone to open and close the building and to set up the rooms for meetings. “as the centre expands we are having to take a comprehensive look at the way it is run and our need for manpower,” says Mr Douglas. Georgetown Community Centre is now ready and able to for any size of organisation planning almost any kind of function, there is a standard scale of charges but John Douglas points out that they do have to be open to some negotiation.

“We are first and foremost a community centre if a group or organisation from the community wants, or needs, the use of the centre but would have problems finding the money then we are quite prepared to be flexible to try and make it possible for them to gain access to the centre and the facilities it can offer. We want this building to be the focal point of the community life in Georgetown and the best way of doing that is by ensuring that as many people as possible are able to use it,” says Mr Douglas.

New groups which have recently started include a dance club on a Sunday evening.  Aerobics teachers use the facilities for classes, in addition to the Georgetown Playgroup, over 60s club, Mother and Toddlers Group, Youth Clubs and after schools groups which all use the centre on a regular basis.

The management committee also still plan to run their own fund raising events. Plans are in hand for a race night in the new year.

 

 

Further instalment on the History of Lochvale House will follow, continuing its story from the establishment of the Boys Home to the Present Day.

In the meantime if anyone has any photographs of Lochvale House, or any stories they may care to share with us regarding its History we would be very pleased to hear from you.