The traditional starting point of the Fireball Ceremony is undergoing an extensive renovation courtesy of Aberdeenshire Council and a sizeable allocation of grants and funding. The (Old Town) Town House (to give it its proper name) had a mass of scaffolding enclosing it from top to bottom for the last few weeks. However it has all been removed and made ready for its usual purpose at Hogmanay. Historic Scotland has been overseeing the project to make sure everything is done in the appropriate manor. The architect, David Chouman, has been working with the contractors, Muirfield Construction, to make sure that all his plans are fulfilled.
The exterior has been re-pointed, some stones have been replaced, lots of woodwork has been renewed but where possible it has been repaired. The roof has had extensive work done although the majority of that woodwork was in a remarkable condition for its age. The plan for this stage is to restore the building, make it weather proof and fit for another 100 years.
The exterior lighting has been renewed. The 4 spot lights are in a temporary position at the moment. The LED balustrade lighting strip is very effective (too bright?). More exterior lighting may be added eventually.
This is stage one of a two stage process which will be completed next year when the inside gets a complete makeover. The plans for this second stage have been passed by the council. The future usage of the extra space that could be created on the ground floor is currently under discussion but it is hoped that a positive and continuous programme of usage can be put in place so that the Town House can be a vital part of the Old Town. The idea would also be to give the Town House its voice back and get one of the two bells up there to chime the hour - for part of the day at least.
Once all this has been completed the area of the Mearcat Cross/Town House will be a credit to the town and fit for purpose – the place for proclamations, declarations, announcements and judgements.