Work will get under way next week to help ensure North Ayrshire Heritage Centre remains a vital community resource for years to come.
The improvement works will concentrate on replacing the roof of the 240-year-old building which has suffered from cold, wet and exceptionally windy weather over the past few winters.
It is hoped that the extensive works will give long-term protection to the historic former church, based in Manse Street, Saltcoats, along with its irreplaceable heritage.
Preparatory planning work has now started and the artefacts will start to be moved in the week beginning 12 September with the process being completed the following week when the site will start to be prepared ready for the external work. The building will officially close to the public in the week beginning 19 September.
Improvement works can then begin in earnest and will require the heritage centre to close for approximately 10 weeks although this could change depending on weather conditions.
Councillor Louise McPhater, Cabinet member for Communities, said:
“The condition of the roof on the heritage centre has been deteriorating with poor weather during the past three winters contributing to the decline. The building has suffered a number of leaks and we cannot take any chances that the artefacts are affected by dampness, particularly in the archive storage room where paper documents are stored.
“We hope that residents will understand the reasons for the temporary closure but can be assured that the work will secure the building for years to come.”
While the work is carried out, artefacts will be moved with some items being taken off site and transported safely to a secure location.
However, many items in the collection will remain on site although will be kept secure to avoid any issues with the ongoing work.
The heritage centre will be closed to the public for the duration of the works although staff will be able to work from their base as normal.
The temporary closure will produce some unexpected benefits in that it will allow heritage centre staff to assess some items in the collection that have not been on display for some time. It will also allow staff to carry out some elements of conservation work, catalogue the collection and photograph items that have previously not been recorded.
Any members of the public seeking access the heritage centre to view artefacts or archive material may be able to do so by appointment. You should contact heritage staff to arrange access by emailing email@example.com in the first instance.
One-to-one support with research is also available by appointment and delivered in the Heritage Centre or at a suitable branch library. In addition, a research officer will deliver weekly drop-in sessions in local libraries to offer support to the public with online research.
Meanwhile, the Ardeer exhibition, which has been planned for the end of the year, has been rescheduled for after the completion of the works.