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Many members enjoy and are experts at delivering works on repairing and maintaining different types of traditional buildings. In Scotland we are blessed with an abundance of traditional buildings from Shetland to Stranraer and from Eyemouth to Islay. In 2019 the FMB got involved in the Edinburgh Traditional Building Festival. The festival is part of the world famous Edinburgh Festival Fringe and was set up to celebrate and advocate the many traditional buildings throughout Edinburgh and beyond.

The event has grown in recent years with each of the shows regularly sold out well before the start of the Festival Fringe. At the traditional buildings festival, expert craftspeople deliver a series of live skills demonstrations on how to maintain or repair key features of traditional buildings.

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Alison Johnstone MSP & Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament will be opening this year’s event. She is pictured at the 2019 festival receiving a roofing mini-masterclass.

This is where Alex Ferguson was once again a great help: not the former Manchester United manager but a former employee of FMB Scotland member, H.M Raitt & Sons Ltd.

FMB called upon to help

The festival organisers asked if the FMB could help deliver a skills demonstration on Sash & Case windows. I would say these vertical slider windows are the most recognisable window style in the UK. They can be found in thousands of tenements across Scotland’s main cities and towns, as well as in detached homes. So this was on obvious topic to add to the programme.

In August 2019, Alex kindly volunteered his time and expertise to give a live skills demonstration to an audience just off the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. Such was the success that Alex, HM Raitt & Sons and the FMB were looking forward to getting involved in the 2020 festival. The pandemic struck and the 2020 event was cancelled.

This year the show is back with the organisers turning their eyes to the future, COP26, and the sustainability of traditional buildings in a dynamic and ever-changing world. Technology has been embraced ahead of this year’s event which opens on 23rd August. Volunteers are relied upon to deliver the skills demonstrations and so volunteers were needed to film these ahead of the 2021 festival. So this is where I found myself trying my best to film Alex displaying his expert knowledge and craftsmanship of Sash and Case windows in HM Raitt & Sons yard in Musselburgh one afternoon in July.

An expert at work

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Now I am no Oliver Stone but I think I managed to capture Alex, whose expertise meant that he needed no script nor direction. To see the film, you will need to book your free place here for the Sash & Case window demonstration which will be broadcast at 2pm on Wednesday 25th August. Alex will be available live on the day, via Zoom to take questions on any aspect of his demonstration. My thanks to Alex and to the team at HM Raitt & Sons Ltd for their time, expertise and help.

For 2022 I am hoping to get more Master Builders involved in the festival, so please get in touch with me in the first instance if this is of interest.


Gordon Nelson

Gordon Nelson

FMB Scotland Hub Director, Federation of Master Builders

Gordon has nearly twenty years’ experience of working in membership organisations in Scotland and joined the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) in 2014. Prior to this, he worked at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) and Unilever. As Director for FMB Scotland his responsibilities are public affairs, media relations, governance and representing member’s interests to Scottish policy makers and stakeholders. Gordon is the Secretary of the Cross-Party Group on Construction in the Scottish Parliament, a member of the Scottish Building Standards Futures Board and represents the FMB on Scotland’s Construction Industry Collective Voice. Gordon is actively involved with Site Safe Scotland, the principal committee for construction health and safety in Scotland.