Reclaiming history is no laughing matter

A historic feature in the grounds of the Dalzell Estate in Motherwell has been restored .

Volunteers and staff who restored The Ha-Ha in Dalzell Estate
Volunteers and staff who restored The Ha-Ha in Dalzell Estate

The Ha-Ha, a stone wall and grass ditch, was built by Archibald Hamilton, the 4th Laird, in 1724, to prevent grazing animals straying into the gardens around the house and allowing uninterrupted views of the landscape.

The name Ha-Ha derives from the unexpected or amusing moment of discovery when, as you approach, the vertical drop suddenly becomes visible.

However, there was nothing funny about how it looked prior to the work as over many years some of the stonework had collapsed and the ditch had become filled with leaf litter and other rubbish.

Volunteers and staff from Phoenix Futures, a charity and housing association which helps people overcome drug and alcohol problems, joined members of the local community and North Lanarkshire Council’s Countryside Ranger Service to restore The Ha-Ha to its original condition.

Councillor Michael McPake, convener of the council’s Environmental Services Committee, said: “I would like to thank the many volunteers from Phoenix Futures and the local community for the countless hours spent excavating the ditch and rebuilding the wall to reinstate this historic feature within Dalzell Estate.

“The estate is a popular attraction for local people and visitors to North Lanarkshire, and this project adds a new feature to this fantastic location.”

The project received funding from the Environmental Key Fund (EKF) and Heritage Lottery Fund via the Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership.

Councillor Harry Curran, chairman of the EKF, said: “The restoration of The Ha-Ha on the Dalzell Estate is a great project and it is incredibly pleasing to support an organisation like Phoenix Futures.

“I believe the project has been a success that has the potential to have a positive impact on Motherwell, all those involved and the wider community.”

Volunteers have previously carried out work around the Dalzell Estate to reinvigorate or reclaim the fruit orchard, Chestnut Walk, curling pond and lime grove.