Iain Snr. collected the key to the school (yes, there is only one key to the whole building) on either the 5th or 6th of November (I can't remember, and I can't be bothered calling him to confirm). All I remember is that him and our willing helpers below got up at 4 am to catch the early ferry across to the island.
|Our most willing helpers: Callum, Iain Snr. Jack, Fraser, Keith|
Fast forward to Sunday and I'm still not finished writing this thing, so I'd best just grit my teeth and get on with it.
Anyway, the school was in quite a state before work began; so the main aim of this first week spent up there was to clear away all the debris, and take it all back to the bare minimum. The first task was to get a skip into the school grounds, which was in fact far from easy, since most cars could barely fit in the entrance. Therefore part of the wall had to be knocked down (Don't worry, we have permission to do this).
|The part of the wall sacrificed for the cause.|
Since obtaining a skip on Islay is not the easiest of jobs, a bonfire was lit on most days for things which could be burnt; saving a bit of space.
As I mentioned in the previous post, it would appear that the school was simply abandoned when it closed in December 1998. (This document from a council meeting shows how they voted mere days before the closing date to decide its fate. Quite shocking, really.) All the blackboards were still there, along with books, arts and crafts, bits of pupils' work; all of which had to be gotten rid of. This is of course before we even mention the crumbling plaster, algae covered lino, damp carpets and dead mice which also had to be removed. Also to come down were the petition walls in the toilet block, as you can see in the slightly inaccurate floor plan below.
|This drawing has the windows missing from the front right and left. Other than that, it's fairly accurate. It was drawn for some prospective buyers of the property a couple of years back.|
Anyway: the bit I'm making you wait for. The progress. Well, everything was stripped right back. All of the fireplaces were located. All of the furniture left behind was removed, apart from the piano (that's mine) and a wooden cabinet which was in the school office. All of the internal doors were removed to be taken for treatment to remove the horrid red paint off them; they will be refitted on the next visit. And all of the flooring was taken up and all of the plaster was taken off the walls. Remember the classroom?
|This is unfortunately the best before picture I have of the whole Classroom. Apologies.|
|Unfortunately, curiously the carpet seems to be welded to the floor. It will need some more effort to get it up.|
And the bathroom block?
|Mmmm Algae. It's hard to get a photo of the whole area, because it was split up into separate (and sometimes dark) rooms.|
Unfortunately a somewhat major incident did happen at some point during the week (though it was lucky someone was there to fix it - Argyll and Bute Council were not going to come and fix it anymore), in that very heavy winds blew in no fewer than four of the windows on the front of the building. Thankfully, no one was injured.
|Our window blow-out catastrophe.|
Anyway, that concludes the first week of work. I'll be going up on the next visit (most likely), so I'll take some more photos then. My task will be to repoint the internal brickwork (of which there is quite a lot, so I'm told). In the interim, I'm told that a roofer will be assessing the roof, and trying to make the place watertight.