JML Contracts Ltd takes on exciting new project on the shores of Loch Tay

John Langley at the Scottish Crannog Centre

A FAMILY-OWNED Perthshire firm’s reputation for energy-efficient and sustainable homes has prompted two calls from Kevin McCloud and Channel 4’s Grand Designs.   

But now Auchterarder-based JML Contracts Ltd are pressing ahead with an exciting new project which blends cutting edge, eco-friendly design with buildings dating back 2500 years.   

Two years on from the devastating blaze which destroyed the award-winning Scottish Crannog Centre on the shores of Loch Tay, an alternative site is being cleared at Dalerb, near Kenmore, which will be home to a new and even more ambitious undertaking.   

John Langley, director of JML Contracts, admits the venture is a little bit different from their normal SIPs projects, such as Lochside House on the shores of Loch Torridon which won the Royal Institute of Architects’ House of the Year Award in 2018.   

“As a Perthshire business, we are delighted to be heavily involved in helping the Scottish Crannog Centre rise phoenix-like from the ashes of the one which was burned down on the other side of the loch in June 2021,” he said.   

“This is currently one of our biggest contracts. We are carrying out the tree felling, site clearance, drainage and earthworks on the lochside site, and will be using our modular Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) system to provide a museum and café building.  

“The building of the replacement crannog itself is in the safe hands of The Scottish Crannog Centre and their archaeological experts and volunteers, who are more familiar with the ancient techniques and skills used to create these buildings back in the Iron Age.   

“Given the environmentally sensitive location and its rich biodiversity, trees and wildlife, various ecological and environmental surveys have been completed and the Scottish Crannog Centre team have been identifying timber and other materials which can be used by them on-site.”   

While work has already begun on weaving the Roundhouse, one of the new Iron age buildings being built, John’s team are busy designing and engineering the two new 100 square metre buildings at their factory near Auchterarder.  

“In our line of work, we are used to clients seeking well-designed, energy-efficient homes, often in out of the way locations in places like the Highlands and Islands. Our extensive experience of delivering these types of projects may have helped us to secure this contact,” he confirmed.  

“Each of the buildings will be made up of five separate modules and one link building joining them together.  

“These 11 modular structures will be engineered, fabricated and constructed at our factory in Auchterarder.  

“They will then be transported to the site at Dalerb to be craned into place and pieced together.   

“We are using screw piles as a foundation rather than concrete as they have a much lighter environmental impact on the foreshore.  

“The aim is to ‘touch the ground lightly’, you won’t even know the buildings had been there when they are ultimately removed and repurposed later, which is the current plan.  

“JML Contracts is accustomed to working closely with organisations like SEPA and Historic Scotland, restoring historic properties and structures in awkward and sensitive locations, such as the 18th and 19th Century bridges at nearby Taymouth Castle and in other parts of the country.   

“It is exciting for us being trusted to drive forward these ambitious plans to create an even more exciting Scottish Crannog Centre on this fabulous package of land between the A827 and the Loch Tay.”   

Mike Benson, managing director of The Scottish Crannog Centre, is celebrating a Visitor Welcome Award in the Museum and Heritage Awards 2023 and staff are ready for another busy season. 

After an on-site meeting with John and Fiona Robertson, Perth and Kinross Council’s head of culture and communities, Mike said: “We are delighted to be working alongside a prestigious local firm to create our new museum at Dalerb.    

“We have already struck up a great working relationship with them and are looking forward to a successful project completion.”   

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