Unsafe brickwork removed from Balbirnie Park walled garden

Councillors Fiona Grant and John Beare inspect the condition of the historic walled garden at Balbirnie Park. Pic: Steve Brown
Councillors Fiona Grant and John Beare inspect the condition of the historic walled garden at Balbirnie Park. Pic: Steve Brown

Builders have been called in to remove more than a metre of unsafe brickwork from the historic walled garden in Balbirnie Park.

The emergency work started last week after it was discovered that the south-facing wall, already in a fragile state, had shifted a further four inches following storm damage caused earlier in the month.

Emergency action was clearly needed

Councillor Fiona Grant

It was immediately declared a danger to the public and fenced off, following an inspection by Fife Council officers.

A specialist team of bricklayers has now been tasked with reducing a 1.2 metre high course of brickwork, thought to have been added in the 1920s, from 130 metres of the southern wall.

“Following the damage caused by high winds, we had to act quickly and with the full co-operation of Historic Scotland, the decision was taken to reduce the height,” said Peter Duncan, Fife Council’s allotments officer.

“Work was due to be carried out on the south wall as part of our ongoing commitment to maintain and preserved the listed structure, but with the urgent need to make the wall safe, we’ve speeded up that part of our programme of repairs.”

The famous category B listed structure is one of only a handful of walled gardens of its size that still exist in Scotland and was built in 1784 and extended in 1863.

Despite the listed and protected status, the remedial work has had the full backing from Historic Scotland.

Councillor Fiona Grant, chairman of Glenrothes area committee, praised the speed in which the concerns were dealt with.

“The wall is obviously bowing in several places and emergency action was clearly needed,” added Cllr Grant.

“Work has already started to lower the south wall to two point four metres and is likely to take two weeks to finish.

“The walled garden will be closed for two days when work on the gate pillars is done and the opportunity will be taken to make sure the new gates are more in keeping with the garden setting.”

Councillor John Beare added: “With the garden having been constructed in 1784, it has stood the test of time. I’m sure the Council will bring the appropriate expertise to bear to ensure any repairs will be equally long lasting.”