Doors Open Days YAP (Young Advisory Panel) are working to create programme guides for their peers as visitors to Doors Open Days weekends. Thanks to funding from Heritage Lottery Fund they have been able to do some research visits and carry out planning during Doors Open Days 2018. This will enable them to come together to ensure the festival is accessible to a broader and younger audience when they produce their more comprehensive guides for 2019.
Thank you to Annika from our YAP (Young Advisory Panel) for taking a trip to Dunoon and scouting out interesting venues for young people to visit. Here you can read her research and see a recommended itinerary for a day trip this coming weekend.
I started my little day trip to Dunoon from Glasgow Central Station and got a train to Gourock.
My plan was to visit some of the buildings that are going to be taking part in this year’s Doors Open Days Festival in Argyll and Bute for 2018, and see what Dunoon had to offer.
When I got on the ferry from Gourock to Dunoon the sky was full of dark clouds and I was getting slightly worried, but as soon as I got to Dunoon the skies cleared and I was greeted at the port by a statue of Highland Mary (one of Robert Burn’s girlfriends who was born there as I later learned.) At the end of the day, I had learned a lot about the history of this seaside town, its peculiarities and its ambitious plans for the future. The variety of different buildings and strong commitment to culture and heritage definitely made an impression, and the Doors Open Days weekend (22nd-23rd September 2018) is an excellent chance to discover the architectural gems that are all around town.
Looking over the Holy Loch, Kilmun church is a 15-minute drive or a nice brisk cycle from the Dunoon centre. It got its name from the Irish monk Fintan Munnu who set up a religious community there sometime around 600AD. The existing church was built in 1841 in the site of an older medieval church, and the Mausoleum has either commemorated or been the burial site of the Dukes of Argyll for twenty generations.
The surrounding ancient graveyard is full of interesting headstones and I could easily spend a good while admiring the beautiful inscriptions (the earliest gravestones date back to 700AD!). The view across the bay and the surrounding hills is breathtaking and one can see why the leaders of the Campbell clan chose this as their spiritual home and final resting place.
Back in Dunoon, the Castle House Museum stands on the hill right opposite the ferry terminal, and next to the site of the long-gone Dunoon Castle. The house was built for James Ewing, the Lord Provost of Glasgow in the 1820s, and stayed in private hands until 1893 when it was acquired by the Burgh of Dunoon. The building has since housed the town council, a library, and today, a museum dedicated to life in Dunoon from the Stone Age to modern day.
The house itself, designed by David Hamilton, is an interesting combination of castle-like features and gothic influences. The museum has an extensive collection of old photographs and exhibits documenting Dunoon’s days as busy holiday destination and a thriving social center.
Right next to the Museum, the modern newly redeveloped Queen’s Hall stands in contrast to the older buildings surrounding it. The very central spot was originally the site of the New Pavilion which opened in 1905 with a seating capacity of 2500. The Pavilion burned down and a new, Modernist pavilion was built in it’s place 1958, and it was renamed “Queen’s Hall” to commemorate the Queen’s visit in Dunoon the same year. Today Queen’s Hall houses a public library, meeting rooms, an auditorium, a café and fitness suites, and plays an important part in Dunoon’s public life.
Another important cultural hub, The Burgh Hall is situated just on the other end of the main shopping street, Argyle Street. The B-listed building dates from 1874 but is also newly refurbished while respecting the original features. The main hall is a working theatre/music hall, and its original stage (which is still intact) has seen speakers and performers from Helen Crawford to Billy Connolly.
The small gallery downstairs has changing exhibitions and the cosy café downstairs is an excellent spot whether you’re hungry for lunch or just coffee and cake.
The Dunoon Pier is maybe the most well-known image of the old holiday town. The current pier was built in 1895 and used to greet the paddle steamers bringing in tourists from Glasgow, although the waiting room had been there since 1867. The Victorian pier had fallen into disrepair and was in danger of demolition in 2010, but the beloved landmark was saved by the local effort and the waiting room has now been restored. It serves as a great reminder of Dunoon’s rich history, while also looking to the future and hopefully generating more interest in its new prospects.
Thank you to Annika Norrvik for this fantastic guide to Dunoon and the Doors Open Days possibilities. We hope that this will bring some inspiration to you all!