Hermitage Park's £3.3million rebirth almost complete

Almost two years since a ceremonial turf-cutting ceremony marked the start of work on Hermitage Park, the £3.3 million renovation of the much-loved outdoor space at the heart of life in Helensburgh is, at last, nearly finished.

It was back on February 10, 2017 that Chris Packard, the former chair of the Friends of Hermitage Park, dug a spade into the grass to officially mark the start of the park's rebirth.

And though it has ended up taking a fair bit longer than the 18 months originally planned, that work is now very definitely in the home straight.

While the project may now be in the home straight as far as work on site is concerned, the last few months – and the next few, too – have been, and will be, no less busy.

Since the turn of the year the focus of much of that work has been on the new ‘Passivhaus’ pavilion – thought to be the first non-residential building in Scotland to be constructed to the exacting Passivhaus energy-saving standards.

Speaking at a meeting of Helensburgh Community Council, Fiona Baker, who succeeded Chris as the Friends’ chair, said: “We’re very proud of the pavilion structure – we believe it’s the first public building in Scotland built to the Passivhaus standard, but it’s not easy to build a Passivhaus structure.

“Our landscape contractor, Hawthorn Heights, will be coming back to finish exterior work around the pavilion, along with the car park extension and water and sewerage work, in March.

“We’re hoping by May to have a ‘party in the park’ to celebrate the completion of the work.”

Argyll and Bute Council, which owns the park, advertised the lease of the pavilion’s cafe in the autumn, and is understood to have chosen a successful bidder – though their name has not yet been made public.

Fiona continued: “We want to work in partnership with whoever runs the café – we don’t want it to be a stand-alone feature of the pavilion.

“Whoever moves in, we’ll be knocking on their door before they’ve unpacked!”

According to an update on the ‘Helensburgh Hermitage Park’ Facebook page this week, the pavilion should be completed in the next two to three weeks – the building’s air source heating equipment has been installed, the kitchen is currently being fitted out, the café is being decorated, and the sprung floor is being installed in the part of the building which will be made available for community use.

But one of the most striking things a glance at that Facebook page shows is the extent to which the people of in Helensburgh have got involved with the project – confirming the special place the park has in the hearts of the whole community.

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