Since those jubilant scenes outside the Council offices in April we’ve been busy making our vision for Bridgend Farm House a reality. We’ve been negotiating the terms of the “licence” under which the Council is “giving” us the building for a year while we draw up detailed plans for the farm house and its projects.
The Big Lottery has been very supportive and we have won stage-one funding to allow us to employ consultants to prepare architectural plans, apply for planning permission, engage a part-time project manager and consult with the community and potential farm house users.
We have now drawn up formal tender documents and are looking at bids from professional consultants. We hope to have everything in place by the spring of next year to be able to apply for full funding from the Lottery. This will allow us to acquire the building, restore it, install a community kitchen and café and build a series of out-houses on one side of the garden.
Meanwhile, our community worker Hilary Morrison has been making good use of a Council grant to run no fewer than 13 projects, ranging from cookery classes, to forest fun days, eco-gardening, walking groups and heritage events.
We were intrigued to see an archaeological dig taking place at the farm house in June organised by the Greater Liberton Heritage Project and funded by the Heritage Lottery. The dig lasted a week and uncovered yet more evidence that the site was originally a chapel built by Sir Simon Preston in 1518. It’s very likely therefore that Mary Queen of Scots worshiped here while she was staying at Craigmillar Castle in 1566. By 1792, the chapel was referred to as “stables” and by 1850, the Ordnance Survey map was showing it as a “ labourer’s cottage.” So we have a long and interesting heritage to protect and enjoy.