The following article appeared in the Dumfries & Galloway Standard, 8th February 1980.
The former Dumfries Boys’ Home at Lochvale has been sold – and is to be converted into a 40 unit sheltered housing development. It was revealed this week that work will be started in April this year on the £3/4 million pound complex.
The new owners are the Kirk Care Housing Association Ltd., who set up sheltered housing up and down the country. Controversy started over the boys’ home in August, 1978, when the governors first discussed the possible closure of the 45 year old building.
The final decision to close came at the end of 1979, brought about as a result of the Government’s policy of placing every child who required “care” with foster parents, rather than with organisations like the Lochvale home. Due to that policy the governors found that they were getting totally “unsuitable” types, such as boys foster parents could not cope. At the time of closure there were less than six boys in the home.
This week a spokesman for Kirk Care said they were delighted with the building at Lochvale and had already engaged a local firm of architects to draw up plans. Envisaged is a 40 unit development of single and double flats with a resident warden’s apartment. Every flat would be linked to the warden’s flat in case of emergency.
Sheltered housing is geared towards old people and most of the residents will come from the local area.
With Government grants, the £3/4 million complex will be subject to approval from the Housing Corporation. Kirk Care said they had been in close contact with Nithsdale District Council before putting in an offer for Lochvale to determine the need for sheltered housing in the area. Already they have started a 39 unit complex at Stranraer and are interested in sites in Thornhill and have gained planning permission for a site in Langholm.
At Lochvale development there will be a communal lounge, laundry facilities, guest rooms for visiting families and other amenities. The house will be converted rather than demolished, because of the architectural of Lochvale.
The spokesman added: “We will keep in close touch with the local council when we interview prospective residents. They will be chosen on social, medical and personal needs and we will try as far as possible to meet the local need”. He said that although this was the first to get off the ground in Dumfries, the development would in no way meet the demand in the area.
The following item appeared in the Dumfries & Galloway Standard in November 1980.
Councillors are getting together to make plans for the proposed Georgetown Community Centre. The Region’s Education Committee are bringing forward plans to build a community education unit in the suburb. They have agreed to co-operate with the District Council in the scheme. The unit – the plans for which have been brought forward from 1985-6 – will include a lounge, cafeteria, kitchen, meeting rooms, toilet and storage facilities.
Councillor Ronald Jardine listed his reasons for wanting a centre at Wednesdays meeting of Nithsdale District Council’s Leisure and Recreation Committee: “Georgetown and Calside schools are fully booked up and over subscribed. There is a waiting list, a rising one at that of over 100 children for Lochvale House. Cubs and Scouts would have two more packs and groups if they had a meeting place. The Brownies are also in the same predicament. There is no place for a youth club either. Churches and Religious groups also need premises for meetings. The Georgetown Community Council met last night and said that they would be willing to raise some money. Incidentally, that vigorous community council, has difficulty getting a part of the schools to hold its meeting.
The committee agreed that the local councilors should meet and formulate plans for the centre. Councillor Jardine added: “Please could we have the use of the council chambers as we have nowhere to meet in Georgetown.”
The following article appeared in the Dumfries & Galloway Standard, 9th January 1981.
The former Lochvale Boys’ Home in Dumfries has not been sold – despite planning approval having been given to a national housing association to convert the building into a sheltered housing complex.
It was revealed this week that Kirkcare Development, and Edinburgh based organisation, does not have the money to buy Lochvale. It is believed that Kirkcare revealed they didn’t have the ash only weeks before the transaction was due to be completed and they have asked for an extension in a bid to raise the money.
The news has prompted Georgetown Community Council to step in with a plan to convince the local authority to buy Lochvale and turn it into a community centre. It was this last minute shock for the governors of Lochvale which prompted Georgetown Community Council to step in and make a plea to Nithsdale District Council and Dumfries & Galloway Regional Council to buy the building for the area. The Community Council wants the local authority to put up the money – around the £50,000 mark – for a community centre. And they claim it would save the council more than £200,000 if they put in a bid for Lochvale now.
The regional council has plans in the pipeline for a community unit for Georgetown but the estimate for building top the £250,000 figure. A spokesman for Kirkcare said: “This is a very sad situation and a most embarrassing one for us. Unfortunately we are dependent on the housing corporation and the government for funding. We did not learn of this until very recently and the trustees of Lochvale have been more than patient with us. And we have tried their patience to the limit”. “We are still very hopeful of acquiring Lochvale but we are dependent on other people. Let us say the matter has been suspended for the moment”.
It is believed that up until November, 1980, the trustees of Lochvale understood that Kirkcare would complete the transaction before the end of the year. At the last minute it was revealed money was not available and Kirkcare asked for time to pay.
This week Miss A.S. Laurie, secretary of the board of governors, said: “As far as I know Kirkcare will still complete the transaction, although there is some financial difficulty at the moment. I am not prepared to say any more at present.”
On Wednesday, at a meeting council’s leisure and recreation committee, the community council called for a meeting between district and region and Georgetown representatives in the hope that Lochvale could be acquired. Community Council chairman Mr John Douglas, said they “had received information” that Lochvale Boys’ Home had not been sold as was previously thought. He understood that the trustees might be prepared to consider an alternative offer and urged the local authority to buy it. Mr Douglas said later: “If the regional council put up the money for Lochvale it would solve a lot of problems and fill a big need in the community.” We understand it would cost them more than £250,000 to build a brand new centre here and if Lochvale was acquired they would also be saving, initially, around £200,000. There would also be revenue savings later and the people of Georgetown, like others, would no doubt be delighted about it.
“When we held a meeting recently to discuss possible sites for a centre we were astonished to hear that Lochvale was not sold. Everyone understood that everything had been finalised but it turns out Kirkcare did not have the money.”
At Wednesday’s meeting Mr Ernest Gibson said: “I believe the trustees might consider an alternative offer. As a councillor I naturally feel this would be an ideal opportunity for the Georgetown area and would welcome it.” It was only last year that plans were approved by the region’s planning committee for Kirkcare to go ahead and convert Lochvale into a sheltered housing complex for old folks, with warden facilities. When the announcement was made that Kirkcare had acquired Lochvale a spokesman said they were very excited about moving into Dumfries for the first time and were looking forward to starting work in 1981. On Wednesday it was agreed to meet with the regional council and Georgetown community council to discuss the plans.
The following article appeared in the Dumfries & Galloway Standard, 9th April 1982.
If you want something go straight to the top for it … and Georgetown Community Council has proved the saying right. For that’s exactly what they did when they wrote to Marks and Spencers chief, Lord Sieff of Brimpton asking if there was any chance of them getting a few bits and pieces from the former County Hotel. To strengthen their case they enclosed “Standard” articles and pictures about their community centre – the former Lochvale Boys’ Home – its activities and problems, which we published on January 29 and February 3. The council were quick off their mark when they realised that Marks and Spencers would be getting rid of furniture and fittings before taking over the site for a store … and it paid off. Lord Sieff was obviously impressed with their efforts to set up a community centre at Lochvale House – and their quick thinking – that he immediately wrote back and said they could have what they wanted – and more. Now the Lochvale centre is fully furnished and equipped and eight other local organisations have been given a share.
The community council told Lord Sieff how the centre was struggling to get going and backed up their plea with cuttings from the “Standard”. They explained they had had no cash help from the local authority. Chairman, Mr John Douglas, said he was delighted at the response from Marks and Spencers. He said: “The extent of their kindness has enabled to greatly transform our centre and has given my council great encouragement with our project”.
Mr Douglas, who wrote to the chain store boss, outlined the size of the Georgetown area which had no community facilities. He said: “After much effort and in the face of a total lack of finance from the local authority, this community has managed, by its own efforts, to obtain a lease of a large house and its in the process of developing it as a community centre.” “I know that the County Hotel contains items of furnishing and equipment presumably now to be disposed of. But they would be of inestimable value to my council in its struggle to develop and equip Lochvale House as our new community centre.”
He said there was a great deal of local excitement about the prospect of Marks and Spencers new store opening, tinged, however, with no small measure of regret on the change situation and eventual fate of the established hotel.
Other organisations benefitting are the day centre in George Street, Nithsdale Community Project, Women’s Aid, R.S.P.C., W.R.V.S., Red Cross, Devorgilla House and the region’s social work department.
Equipment which went to Lochvale included chairs, tables, cutlery, curtains, crockery and others and already volunteers, under the supervision of centre co-ordinator, Mrs Valerie Callander, have been working to place furniture.
This article has been copied from the “Community News No 4,” the newsletter of Georgetown Community Council. Although this document was not dated it appears to be from 1982.
LOCHVALE HOUSE – DEVELOPMENTS
After the rather depressing situation outlined in Newsletter No 3 and the recent stories in the local press, some better news. After a meeting between the representatives of the Community Council and the Trustees who own Lochvale House, Council Chairman, John Douglas, stated that the Council were “optimistic” about a favourable outcome to the Council plans to purchase the building as a permanent Community Centre for the area.
He stated that the Trustees were very sympathetic to the idea of the building developing as a community resource rather than simply being sold off for commercial development. While no decisions have yet been made, the future of the Community Centre looks much brighter than it was at the time of the last issue.
If the Trustees decide to sell to the Community Council, then a massive fundraising drive will be necessary both to purchase and to renovate the building, although District and Regional aid will be sought. More than ever the community will have to decide that if it wants a Community Centre, then it will have to be worked for. At present the signs are that it may well be acquired on a permanent basis. This must be good news for our area.
This article has been copied from the “Community News No 5,” the newsletter of Georgetown Community Council. Although this document was not dated it appears to be from 1983.
LOCHVALE HOUSE – THE PRESENT SITUATION.
At a meeting on Friday 21st January, a further step was taken towards securing Lochvale House as a permanent community centre for Georgetown. The meeting was attended by Regional and District Council members and officials and representatives of Georgetown Community Council.
Community Councillors reminded the meeting of the proven need for a centre in Georgetown based on population, lack of community facilities and the current usage of Lochvale House. It was pointed out that as long ago as February 1981 the Director of Education stated that “there is no doubt at all that the needs of Georgetown Community must be given serious and immediate consideration”. The meeting was reminded that a Community Education Unit/Branch Library had been in the Capital Building programme since February 1981 and that the Regional Council reaffirmed its intentions as recently as November 1982.
The meeting accepted that any community centre should be at Lochvale House rather elsewhere based on availability, the situation of Lochvale relative to the whole of Georgetown and the fact that Lochvale House is a going concern with a proven management structure. Chairman D. Beck expressed the view that any branch library eventually provided should probably be situated in the grounds of Lochvale House provided that this did not clash with other planned developments. He did, however, point out that there might be difficulties about siting a Regional Council facility on ground not belonging to it.
The financial implications of purchasing Lochvale House were fully explored. The possible means ranged from contributions from each of the three councils to seeking Scottish Education Department Grants to asking for an extension of the lease. The latter was ruled out since it was felt the Trustees of Lochvale House had already been very generous and in any case were in need of their money. The clear mood of the meeting was a determination to purchase Lochvale House for the community.
At this point Community Council representatives left the meeting to allow further consideration by Region and District representatives.
At its meeting on 26th January, Nithsdale District Council agreed to allocate £15,000 towards the purchase of Lochvale House. Good news indeed! This, together with the £10,000 available from the Georgetown Community Council, means that more than half of the money is now available. All eyes now look with great expectation, towards Dumfries and Galloway Regional Council.
This article has been copied from the “Community News No 8,” the newsletter of Georgetown Community Council. Although this document was not dated it appears to be from 1984.
DEVELOPMENT PLAN FOR LOCHVALE HOUSE.
Lochvale Management Committee has submitted a £93,000 development plan for Lochvale House for Regional Council consideration. Following the purchase of Lochvale House by the Committee on 31st August, 1983 the time has now arrived to consider urgently the renovation and development of the Centre. The Management Committee have retained Colin Morton (Architect) to produce a feasibility study for the future development of the Centre. The plan involves the renovation and restructuring of the builfing to make it more suitable for Play Group, Youth, Adult and Disabled Groups. The estimated cost of the plan is £93,000. In December 1982 the Regional Council approved the provision of a Community Education Unit/Library for Georgetown as part of the capital allocation rolling programme as follows
In view of these figures the Management Committee feels that £93,000 over and above the purchase price already paid is not an unreasonable sum to seek.
The Management Committee, and indeed, the whole of Georgetown looks to both the Regional and District Councils to face up to their responsibilities.
This article has been copied from the “Community News No 10,” the newsletter of Georgetown Community Council. Although this document was not dated it appears to be from 1984.
LOCHVALE HOUSE – MAKE OR BREAK?
A one hundred thousand pound development programme for the Community Centre at Lochvale House now looks certain to start in September, provide the Management Committee can meet its £11,500 share of the costs. This picture emerged after a recent meeting of the Dumfries & Galloway Regional Council and Lochvale Management Committee. Fifty thousand pounds has been guaranteed by the Regional Council towards repairs and development of Lochvale House. In addition Nithsdale District Council has promised to give favourable consideration to a request for money at some future stage of the development.
The Management Committee can also call on £23,000 of unclaimed grant from the Scottish Education Department, although to qualify for any of these grants the committee must first put up £11,500 from its own resources – funds which the Management Committee do not possess. At its last meeting the Management Committee spent some considerable time discussing ways out of this dilemma and various schemes will be presented to the next meeting.
Chairman, Mr John Douglas said: “We have been given encouraging promises of large sums of money but none of this will be released until the Management Committee find £11,500. Work really has to start on the Centre this summer or it will deteriorate further and cost even more to rectify. If the people of Georgetown really want a Community Centre they must be prepared to wholeheartedly support the Management Committee in its fundraising efforts. The supporters of the 500 club have done marvellously over the past three years, but support has now dwindled to about 400 members. There are almost 2000 homes in Georgetown and many hundreds of families use the Centre. If a further 400 subscribers (at £1 per fortnight or £25 per year) would enrol even for one year, £10,000 could be raised without difficulty.”
Mr Douglas went on to emphasise that decision time had now arrived. The Local Authorities having promised as much as is likely in the current financial situation. The Management Committee having established a Centre with excellent potential, it was now up to the residents of Georgetown to do the rest. They must not let themselves down.
This article has been copied from the “Community News No 12,” the newsletter of Georgetown Community Council. Although this document was not dated it appears to be from 1984.
DEVELOPMENTS AT LOCHVALE HOUSE.
The long awaited development of Lochvale House is about to commence. At its meeting on 15th August, the management Committee reported that plans for the £100,000 development had now been completed by Morton Architects. It is planned that tenders should now be sought during September with the aim of work commencing in November.
Amongst the work planned is a completely refurbished, self contained Playgroup wing, providing double the present accommodation a modernised area for the thriving Model Rail Club, New Youth club facilities and greatly improved reception and toilet facilities. All necessary remedial work will also be dealt with.
Chairman, John Douglas stressed that during the renovations all user groups must show the utmost consideration for each other and co-operate fully with the Management Committee in what every temporary arrangements were made. No one group should expect to have priority rights over any other at this time.
During the meeting very strong views were expressed by committee members in view of the works underway, the people of Georgetown should show real concern and willingness to offer help whenever it was sought. All too often the work has been left to a very few overworked volunteers.
This article has been copied from the “Community News No 14,” the newsletter of Georgetown Community Council. Although this document was not dated it appears to be from 1985.
Lochvale Management Committee
Wednesday, 17th April, 7.30pm
It is essential that there is a good attendance at this particular meeting so please do try to come along!
The present committee have done their bit over the past year and new but is now required to form the committee for 1985/86. Anyone resident within the Georgetown area is not only entitled to seek election, but is actively encouraged to do so. No specific skills are required as everyone has something to contribute. Your involvement can be as much or as little as you decide. Age or sex is not a deterrent to seeking nomination, so please think about it.
The committee, however, do desperately require someone with specific knowledge of accounts/book-keeping who is prepared to accept the post of Treasurer, which will become vacant at the A.G.M.
This post is one which requires careful and regular management of our accounts which involve considerable amounts of money. Mrs Trew our daytime manager at Lochvale, can be called upon to assist in the routine work involved and would act under the instruction of the Treasurer.
If you are perhaps a retired Bank employee, Tax Office Accounts Clerk or similar and have some time to spare for a worthwhile cause then we are very anxious for you to join us. The work is absorbing and can be rewarding and you’ll meet many interesting people in the process. If you are prepared to help us, please contact Kathy Trew at Lochvale (Telephone 65749)
The Dumfries & Galloway Standard and Advertiser ran the following article on 25th December 1987.
Urgent cash aid is being sought to save Georgetown Community Centre from financial collapse. On Friday, talks were held between members of the management committee, which operates the community centre from Lochvale House, and district and regional councillors. The management committee have run up an overdraft of more than £36,000, and unless someone bails them out, the centre will have to close and be sold, to pay off the debt. But councillors are confident that a rescue package can be worked out to save the centre which has been the subject of a £100,000 facelift in the past three years, much of the work being paid for directly by the people of Georgetown.
Lochvale House was bought by Georgetown Community Council in 1981 for £42,500. The Council had previously leased the building for two years since it closed as a boys’ home in 1979. The community council intended to convert the building for community use as a survey they carried out showed that a community centre was a facility the local community wanted. Nithsdale District Council said they could not provide one for at least ten years. Community Councillors pressed ahead with their plans for the conversion and raised much of the money locally. Grants were also given by the Scottish Education Department, and district and regional councils. The programme of upgrading was completed early this year and the centre officially opened. But even then the shadow of a cash crisis was looming over the management committee.
For some time now they have had an arrangement with their bankers whereby they have been making only interest payments on their overdraft and not clearing any of the debt. But crunch has arrived and the management committee are due to meet with their bankers in the new year and realise they have to be in a position to show they were doing something to resolve the situation.
Management committee chairman John Douglas, feels that Friday’s meeting went well. “There was absolute unanimity that there is a need, and there was a definite agreement that something would have to be done and we should not even allow the centre to close. Not even on a temporary basis”, he said. Mr Douglas says the centre has proved to be a great success in the community and there is a great demand for its facilities by local people, but he foresees even greater use being made of it in the future. “If we did not have to be looking over our shoulder all the time at the financial situation, we could spend more time looking at the development potential in the centre,” he says.
Mr Douglas and other committee members of the management committee hope that, with support from the district and regional councils, they will be able to reach an agreement with the bank for a breathing space which will allow the two local authorities to put together a rescue package for Lochvale House.
Options thought to be under include either district or regional council taking over the building, or reaching agreement to take it over jointly. Councillor Roy Watson, chairman of the district council’s leisure and recreation committee, says he hopes some short term measures can be taken to allow time for a long term strategy to be worked out to secure the future of the centre. He described Georgetown Community Centre as a “highly desirable facility” which clearly received a lot of community support.
At the moment, Georgetown Community Centre is home to one of the biggest playgroups in Scotland, a thriving mother and toddler group and a busy over 60s club, all of which would be left without premises if the centre had to close. Youth clubs and a number of other organisations also run their business from Lochvale House.
This article appeared on the front page of the Dumfries Courier on Friday 22nd April 1988.
A financial millstone around the neck of Georgetown’s Lochvale Community Centre has been lifted. The Scottish Education Department yesterday agreed to waive on the repayment of a £50,000 grant if the running of the centre is taken over by the local authorities. The decision means that both Nithsdale district and regional councillors can now begin “serious” discussions on the future of the closure threatened centre, which as a £37,000 overdraft.
The news was welcomed by Mr John Douglas, chairman of the centre’s voluntary management committee, who said: “It’s absolutely tremendous. It opens the door for the local authorities to open negotiations”.
He added: “It’s now up to the local authorities to do what they should have done for Georgetown a long time ago.” Financial problems at the centre – the former Lawfield Boys’ Home – began with the need for extensive building renovations. The SED gave a £50,000 grant, specifically for voluntary organisations, towards the cost of repairs and it was feared that this would have to be repaid if the district or regional council took over the running of the centre. District councillor Jean Robison, a former member of the management committee, said: ” The centre was almost at door closing time. The district and regional councils are jointly funding the interest on the overdraft as the centre just couldn’t pay.”
She added: “The Scottish Education Department decision has removed on obstacle. The district and regional councils can now seriously talk about the centre’s future. It hasn’t totally solved the problem but there is some breathing space now.”
Sir Hector Munro MP, who has lobbied Scottish Education Minister Michael Forsyth on the issue said: ” I am delighted for the people of Georgetown who make good use of the centre. Now its future should be assured.”