“This is where the ghosts were,” declared one lady .”
“I used to be fast up and down here,” said another, as they climbed the rustic spiral staircase in the newly restored Lews Castle, Stornoway.
A group of staff, who worked and lived at the castle in the 1950s when it was a residential college, were among the honoured guests at the recent Open Day to showcase the restored building.
The visit brought back many happy memories for the ladies who worked in the kitchen, laundry and as domestics at the college.
They were delighted to visit the now luxurious bedrooms, which at one time were their living quarters - although not quite as spacious - in the 1950s there was four to a room!
In the cook’s old room (where the ladies are pictured) they revealed that there had been a fire-escape, which was put to good use at the weekends if there was a dance on that they wanted to go to.
Catriona Macdonald from Point relayed the tale: “11 o’clock was the curfew, but on a Friday we used to go to the dance at Laxdale. This was the cook’s room and there was a fire-escape there and she used to let us in after coming back from the dances.”
The ladies had all worked at the college at around the same time and have kept in touch over the years.
The 81 year old added: “We were young and we had a laugh, and we still talk about it and remember.
“When I heard they were going to renovate it I said ‘I hope I will be alive to see it’.”
As a group of 16 and 17 year olds the girls seemed to have had good fun at the 1950s college, even though the work they described was labour-intensive, as another lady said: “We had to scrub down the stairs every Saturday morning at 7 o’clock before we even ate anything.”
The ladies were amongst the hundreds of visitors who piled through the doors of Lews Castle during the Open Day keen to appreciate the restored building in all its glory.
And for those who decided to go along for a peak at the public rooms and guest bedrooms the general opinion of the work was ‘Excellent’.
General manager at the castle, which is managed by leisure firm ‘Natural Retreats’, is Markus R Carrington, who said of the work: “Lews Castle has been a fantastic restoration project to save an iconic landmark on the Outer Hebrides, not only creating a new visitor attraction and destination, but also rejuvenating a community.”
During the afternoon and early evening adult guests were welcomed with drinks and canapes, whilst during the day craft tables, face painting and cupcake decoration kept mini guests entertained.
Although the lower, more formal rooms, of the castle have been open for some time the upper floors, where guests will be accommodated in luxurious rooms and apartments, had not been revealed to the public until last Friday.
The design team in these areas worked hard to create a blend of the classic and contemporary in the rooms and apartments to suit the castle and its setting.
They also worked with local businesses to incorporate their products in the overall design.