Historical buildings don’t necessarily present a problem to fire safety

I had the absolute pleasure last week to carry out a fire risk assessment of a very old building in Aberdeenshire.

Lickleyhead Castle was constructed in the 1600s. The original estate was owned by Clan Leslie but it was sold to Patrick Duff of Craigston who extended the building in 1723.

In 1922, Don Guillermo de Landa y Escandon, the Governor of Mexico City, purchased the castle for his daughter Maria Luiz. Maria married a Leslie and her great granddaughter, Rose Leslie, lived at Lickleyhead as a child. Her father, Sebastian Leslie, inherited the castle but he had to sell the property in 2018 when ordered by the courts for failing to pay council tax.

Rose Leslie is an actress, rising to fame as Gwen Dawson in the ITV drama Downton Abbey and as Ygritte in the HBO series Game of Thrones.

The property was purchased by the Davies family, and it is their intention to turn the building into holiday accommodation. I must say, their approach to safety is second to none because they have spared no effort improving the premises, including upgrading fire safety precautions.

As you can imagine, Lickleyhead Castle is a complex structure, and it comes with challenges regarding fire safety. However, with a little bit of patience and by taking a pragmatic approach, we were able to agree on improvements.

Fire doors were interesting! None of the seven bedrooms have fire doors, hardly surprising given that the doors are hundreds of years old. The last thing anyone would want is to replace those historic stunning doors with modern fire doors. And why should they, because those doors are solid and would most likely hold back a fire much longer than FD60-rated doors.

Several of the doors in the castle had very ancient self-closing devices. I am not sure how old they were but they must be getting on for 80 years old. No need to replace those with modern self-closing devices, because they do the job just fine.

Emergency lighting and the fire alarm system needed upgrading but it was possible to keep the units discretely positioned. There were a few tweaks needed to improve general security but nothing that would present an issue.

I hope the Davies family enjoy their new business venture and I wish them all the success.

how cool would it be to rent the castle for a holiday and perhaps stay in the room where young Rose played as a child.