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1 Apr 2019

A box of delights


Neil PTC, Exterior The Hill House Front Garden: Well, here it is ... and YOU made it happen.

We’re well on the way to completing The Box – the pioneering shield that will help save the Hill House.
As you’ve seen, it’s an amazing feat of engineering; when finished it will shelter Mackintosh’s masterpiece from the rain and wind that’s taken such a toll over the past century.

V/O: But that’s just the first stage. Once under cover, the building can dry out under controlled conditions and the Trust’s experts will begin the process of finding the long-term solution that will save this iconic structure forever.
Neil and Richard Tour :

Richard: So you can see the problem here. This is a flat roof, the water starts to come through, you can already see the bowing and the cracking a little bit further on. That eventually gives way and the plaster will slowly, under the force of gravity, fall below and then this is what we’re left with. Um … you can see there’s quite a lot of building being supported there on just some metal supports and there’s lots of wood in the construction and as it shows from this very small bit of wood … it’s not in the best of order.

Neil: No …

Richard: There’s no part of the house that is unaffected. You only have to look at the smallest bit of detail and you’ll start to see a crack, or look at the wall and you’ll start to see bits of the stencilling starting to come away.

So whereas in an ordinary domestic house you may quite easily be able to re-paint the wall, put some new paper on, intervene on the plasterwork … we can do all of that here … but every time we do that, we lose an original Mackintosh feature … which is what the house is all about.

Neil PTC, Exterior Side Elevation: The Hill House was once at the frontier of domestic architecture and, thanks to you, it’s now at the frontier of conservation. In the meantime, I hope you’ll do as I’ll be doing, and come back to see the result of all this work.

V/O: The box’s internal ramps and walkways will offer views over the building that could only be achieved by drones up to now – and there will also be fascinating displays telling this place’s remarkable story.

V/O: And like a true box of delights, you’ll be able to go inside the house itself and see the extraordinary interior decoration and furniture so painstakingly designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife, Margaret MacDonald.

Neil PTC, Staircase: The Hill House is being rescued and it’s your generous donations that made it possible. On behalf of the National Trust for Scotland and everyone who loves Scotland’s heritage: THANK YOU.

The Trust’s President, Neil Oliver pays a visit to the Hill House in Helensburgh to see for himself how generous donors are helping to save Mackintosh’s greatest domestic masterpiece.

Nearly £1.3 million was given by thousands of donors, all committed to making sure we can overcome the structural problems that have bedevilled the house since it was built for the Blackie family between 1902–04.

The first stage is to construct a huge ‘box’ shield over the entire building to shelter it from the elements, so that water ingress can be stopped and the building dried out in controlled conditions before conservators can get to work.

As Neil learns, even when the box is completed this summer, it will still be possible to access the house’s ‘jewel-like’ interior, as well as enjoy a drone’s eye over its exterior using gangways and ramps.

To everyone who donated: thank you!

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