COUNCILLORS have approved a £600,000 plan to preserve a 260-year-old Port Glasgow building.

Members of Inverclyde Council’s environment and regeneration committee have approved proposals to carry out the first phase of work on the historic King George VI building in the town centre.

The property is made up of a masonic hall at 9 King Street, which was built in 1758 and is one of the oldest purpose-built lodges still in use in the world, and the original Port Town Hall at 11 King Street, which was constructed a few years later.

The first phase of work will see £590,000 spent making the building wind and watertight and replacing the electrics.

Councillor Michael McCormick, convener of environment and regeneration, said: “The building is in very poor condition and the roof is in urgent need of replacement.

“We had been hoping to carry out a full refurbishment but we do not have sufficient funding available at the moment.

“What we must do however is ensure we make it wind and watertight.”

The council has already set aside £1m towards the project, which is expected to cost £1.5m in total.

Mr McCormick said: “The building is an important link to Inverclyde’s past and it is vital we preserve and protect that heritage for future generations.

“They are the oldest buildings in Port Glasgow apart from Newark Castle (1478) and John Wesley - the founder of Methodism - visited the original town hall back in 1772.

“This work will ensure we halt the decline and can plan further refurbishment work as part of the ongoing budget setting process.”