WORK began last week to convert a 19th century mill building in the centre of Arbroath into housing.
Extensive remodelling of Brothock Mill, Burnside Drive, formerly the home of the Arbroath Herald, will be undertaken by the main contractor, Muirfield Contracts.
The £2.3 million project by the Caledonian Housing Association will take 60 weeks to complete.
The housing association’s asset management director, Mr Andrew Kilpatrick, who is based in Perth, said he was happy to see the work under way.
The building has four floors and is of rectangular configuration with a three story leg which extends into the car park at the rear. There is also a single story extension adjacent to that.
Mr Kilpatrick explained that the rear leg and the single story building will be demolished, as will the rear wall which is in a poor condition.
The original facade, the roof and most of the structural floors will be retained. There is one element of timber flooring at the seaward end of the building, and that will be replaced.
The main floors were designed to support the substantial weight of heavy mill machinery and are robust. However, cast iron pillars which support the heavy structure will require to be protected from fire to meet modern building regulations.
Mr Kilpatrick continued: “Once all the structural changes have been completed, the rear wall will be rebuilt and a new stairwell and lift will be installed.”
The building will be converted to provide a total of 20 flats over three floors and all will be affordable rental properties suitable for mature tenants.
The housing association has received grants totalling £730,000 from the Scottish Government towards the rebuild and the remainder of the £2.3 million cost will be funded by private borrowing.
One of the first changes made by the contractor was to refurbish the adjacent Cafe Rendezvous which will be used as a site office during the term of the contract.
The Arbroath Herald took over Brothock Mill in 1936, moving at that time from much smaller premises on Brothock Bridge. The additional space was important in the firm’s expansion before and after the Second World War during which a nationally important posters department was inaugurated on the ground floor.
Another part of the ground floor was given over to storage, the printing presses and dispatch department were located on the first floor and the typesetting department and compositors were on the second floor, along with ancillary departments such as proofreading and engraving. The second floor housed offices for the advertising department and the managing director, Mr George B. Lowe also had his office here.
After the takeover of Herald Press Ltd., by Johnston Press in 1999, only the ground floor of the Brothock Mill was used. The building was vacated by the Arbroath Herald in January, 2008, and had lain unused since that time.