The Old Dreghorn Primary School was built in 1908 and closed in 2012, and was the primary school attended by First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon amongst many others. In 2014 it was acquired by the Isle of Arran Brewery to become a combined Sake Brewery, Brewing School, Testing Laboratory, Warehouse, Bottling Plant, Tourist Destination and Restaurant. The keys were received from North Ayrshire Council in the first week of October, and Arran Brewery staff first entered the site on the 10th of October 2014.
I was half of the first team to enter the site to ascertain what work needed to be done to start using the site for mainland operations for the Brewery, and took along my camera to record the state of the building, and to record what we found.
Due to break-in's at the site, vandalism, problems attaining planning permissions and restructuring within the Brewery, work at Dreghorn never really started, and the site was only ever used for storage and as a mainland warehouse (a function it retains at the date of writing). 10 staff were employed at the site at one point, but now the site is unmanned and is on the market for redevelopment.
Warning, there's quite a few pictures below.
Sited on the Main Street of Dreghorn, the Old Primary School is an imposing red sandstone building which can be seen for some distance in both directions.
The initial plans the company had for the school was to use it as a mainland warehouse. As an Island based company, the Brewery was reliant on the whims of the weather and whether it was possible to book transport onto the ferry for much of it's logistics, so we our plans were to save money we were already paying for mainland storage, and use it to fund some of the work at this site. So our initial target was the old lunch hall at the rear of the site. From an outside inspection we could see there wasn't a pane of glass left intact in the building, and vandals had likely gained access.
Inside, the building seemed actually in fairly good condition once we moved past the devastation of the lobby area which was covered in broken glass. The main dining hall looked exactly how I thought a school dining hall should look.
Obviously inside the boarded up windows there was lots of broken glass. Within a month the windows were all replaced, but were too much of a target for vandals, so they remained boarded over to protect the new glass.
The stage area was mainly clear, and behind the scene's at the rear of the stage were various props for school shows and performances. The signage in the hall mainly was about the 2012 London Olympics, held a month or so after the school closed down.
The lighting and heat lamps were all in operation, and totally useless for our intended use as a warehouse, as you store beer cold.
Menu's and healthy eating guides also dotted the walls.
White and black boards throughout had messages on them, many goodbyes to the school.
Serving hatches through to the kitchens, which had been stripped bare of all equipment, leaving capped off water and gas pipes, and cut through electrical cables. The store rooms still had some oil and other cooking supplies, by that time horrendously out of date. And the canteen staff offices were vandalised, with uncountable crude drawings of penises and statements of local boys sexuality.
Heading back outside to check out the grounds and the other buildings, we found a rear area that was probably staff parking at one point, but now was home to some foxes.
The childrens slide built into the embankment at the side of the playground, looked like a whole load of fun.
In a fenced off area, there was a smaller childrens play area, perhaps a nursery schools.
As part of the plans for this site, there was a Sake Brewery planned to be made here. Given the links between Japan and Dreghorn (the local church was disassembled, and re-assembled in Japan), there were tentative agreements for support from the Japanese embassy for this area to become a Japanese garden.
Hopscotch and other children's games are painted onto the tarmac of the playground, a playground which would cause problems later on as the site was used as a warehouse, as it was not made with the weight of delivery vehicles loaded with alcohol in mind and began to collapse in places into the drains below.
The blocked off windows indicate that this external staircase was a later addition to the building. The other side of the door at the top was more interesting, but that's still some pictures away.
The tidy school plaque beside the front doors, which is still there to this day.