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By Hugh Boag
A historic boathouse has been transformed into a stunning wedding venue on the west coast of Arran.
An extensive refurbishment has given The Boathouse at Dougarie a new lease of life and is ready to welcome guests for, not just weddings, but events and other occasions from next month.
The large B-listed building was built in 1885 and was designed for the 11th Duke of Hamilton for launching boats and for entertaining guests.
The designer was the famous Scottish Edwardian architect J J Burnet, who was also involved in other works during the development of Dougarie as a sporting lodge, which began 2o years earlier.
The unusual twin-gabled building in local red sandstone has swept away eaves and centre gabled verandah.
Extensive work has seen the building completely reroofed – including all the leadwork, gutters and downpipes – the floor replaced, and a kitchen and other facilities have been added.
The concrete around the building has been replaced and the ground levelled around the Boathouse as well as adding heating to the building and new windows, apart from the stained glass windows at the front.
The boathouse’s interior has been completed with many original, rustic features with a contemporary finish, ideal for 21st-century celebrations.
The Boathouse can accommodate weddings of up to 80 guests. A marquee can be erected outside for those wishing to host more family and friends.
The work, which started in August last year has taken longer than expected due to the pandemic but it now has its first bookings and is ready to welcome its first guests next month at the wedding of a local couple.
The work has been a labour of love for Jamie and Jules Gibbs, who manage Dougarie Estate.
Jules, who has overseen the project, said: ‘We feel that we have lovingly restored one of the island’s most iconic buildings giving it a new lease of life and hope that it will create many special memories for visitors over the years ahead.
‘It has definitely been a labour of love; there has been a lot of blood, sweat and tears gone into this renovation.
‘Nobody in their wildest dreams could have predicted the pandemic and what impact it would have had on everyone and all aspects of the building supply chain.
‘We are thrilled that we have come out the other side and are ready to welcome wedding guests to our very unique venue.
‘Jamie and I are delighted with the way that the Boathouse has taken shape and its been finished to such a good standard.
‘We have kept many of the original features, enhanced its beauty and kept so much of its character while adding a very subtle modern twist such as the internal and external lighting.
‘There are not many Scottish wedding venues on an island, on the beach and that can offer accommodation.’
‘The Boathouse at Dougarie is open for couples to book their weddings from August onwards.
‘We offer a discount for Arran residents wanting to get married there and we are also available for bookings for celebrations and corporate events.
‘The building was traditionally used as a party and celebration venue, and we are so pleased that we are putting it back to its original use, bringing life and laughter back to Dougarie.’
Malin Stewart is the new events coordinator at The Boathouse and she said the venue provided couples with ‘a tranquil and scenic setting for intimate weddings’ and she hopes it will become a popular spot for people wanting to host weddings or other events.
‘The venue has been renovated to the highest standards. The building flawlessly blends the site’s historical importance with modern-day amenities,’ she added.