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Minister sees Penicuik House progress

26 August 2009

Culture Minister Michael Russell visited one of the country’s finest Palladian houses today to see how it is being made safe and providing invaluable training opportunities.

Since it was gutted by fire in 1899, Penicuik House, designed by Sir James Clerk, has stood as a ruin, but its consolidation is providing apprentices with vital experience of traditional building skills.

The Minister said: “This is an incredible house, and we will get a double benefit by investing in its repair. Maintaining it will ensure that the community can continue to enjoy the estate, but it will also provide invaluable training on a large scale.

“Historic buildings need specialised skills and when you consider that half of the work carried out by the construction industry is on repair and maintenance of existing buildings, the economic argument for ensuring that traditional skills are not lost is incredible. I would like to congratulate the Penicuik House Preservation Trust for its continued hard work and its innovative approach to preserving this impressive building and the skills base that will see it continue.”

The Penicuik House Partnership project is expected to cost £6.2m in total and Historic Scotland has committed £1.2m to the six-year programme of works.

James Dawnay, the chairman of the Penicuik House Preservation Trust, said “This is one of the most ambitious conservation projects of its kind ever attempted in Scotland. The training and educational programme which is central to the project is now able to use the facility of the recently completed service wing.

“The six year project will not only save an iconic building of the Scottish Enlightenment but will open the door to the restoration of the most important eighteenth century designed landscape in southern Scotland.”

Notes for editors

  • Penicuik House is one of the finest examples of Palladian architecture in Scotland and sits at the centre of an important 18th century designed landscape. Following a fire, the house has stood as a ruin for more than 100 years. For more information visit

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament. For more information visit

For further information

Lesley Brown
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8603 or 07788 923873