SPECIALISTS have been called in to remove asbestos from historic stables as part of major project to upgrade the visitor experience at Newhailes House and grounds in Musselburgh.

The work is part of a decade-long programme of investment called ‘The Newhailes Revival’ being undertaken by the National Trust for Scotland, which owns the property.

The specialist contractors will have the task of removing asbestos used in past renovations of the stables ahead of their conversion to provide new visitor and catering facilities, as well as offices for the conservation charity’s regional team.

The building will feature a new ‘arrival space’ and cafe themed on the Enlightenment, along with outdoor space in the courtyard for events and catering, estate walks information and visitor orientation.

This is the latest in a series of stages that have so far led to investment of £2.4 million and creation of the Weehailes play area, a ‘mothbusting’ programme in Newhailes House and landscaping of the grounds and gardens.

The preparatory removal of asbestos from the stables should be completed by next Friday (August 23).

Stuart Maxwell, the trust’s general manager for Edinburgh & East, said: “Our regular visitors to Newhailes shouldn’t be disturbed if they see masked, suited and booted individuals walking around as they are there for their safety and wellbeing.

“Although the stables date back to the 18th century, heating and insulation was retrofitted in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and asbestos was routinely used for lagging.

“It’s perfectly harmless if it’s not disturbed but, clearly, we need to remove it before we proceed with the major works we have planned.

“The removal will be conducted by properly equipped specialists and the stables will be out of bounds to the public for the duration so we can assure complete safety.

“Once all asbestos is gone, our other contractors and conservationists can get on with the main works and we anticipate these will be complete by Easter 2020.”

Newhailes is a Palladian mansion which was once home to the influential Dalrymple family, who gave the house its important library, rococo interiors and fine collections of paintings, ceramics and furniture, along with the significant 18th-century designed landscape.