How often have we heard ourselves say ‘If only these walls could talk ….’? It’s great when we come across local stories of Elgin life in a bygone age. Caledonian House Business Centre in Elgin’s High Street gets its name from once being a branch of the Caledonian Bank as well as the prestigious residence of the much respected bank manager and his family. It has been reported that the manager’s bedroom was at the top of the stairs with a small dressing room just off it. Carefully hidden in this room was a strange device consisting of a strong handle on the end of a long steel rod. When the bank manager prepared for bed each evening, he would thrust the handle down to firmly secure the safe in the bank below. Any attempt at robbing the bank would result in him being alerted in his bedroom. We cannot confirm one way or another if the safe was ever tampered with, but it’s definitely an interesting early warning system. Sadly, we didn’t find any evidence of the contraption during our refurbishment works. It would, I’m sure, have made an interesting exhibit!
Heritage is an important part of what gives a town its character and sense of community. At Gairland, we have enjoyed several interesting building renovations. It is a source of great satisfaction that the end result has been painstakingly thought out so that we don’t negatively impact the building’s historic integrity. While keeping as many key features as possible, both externally and internally, we also aim to create modern facilities with energy efficiency and sustainability high on the agenda. These measures also safeguard the successful reuse of the restored building, benefiting everyone. We also want to ensure these historical properties keep their character for generations to come.
We are grateful to those local people who have shared their anecdotes but also to the volunteers at Elgin Museum for allowing us to come along and investigate some of this rich architectural history, particularly relating to properties we have specific interest in. Each one has a story to tell!