A Cumbrian construction and civil engineering company has started work on two major projects north of the border.

RH Irving Construction, based in Longtown, has been appointed principal contractors on a £1.4m scheme to build a bespoke bonded whisky warehouse at the Annandale Distillery.

Meanwhile, preliminary work has also begun on the redevelopment of the former Johnston School in Kirkcudbright, which will see the currently empty and unused site being converted into a multi-use community hub, including a Dark Skies Visitor Centre.

Both projects see R H Irving continuing to diversify from their core speciality of groundworks and other civil engineering operations into managing and delivering commercial, industrial and retail building projects as a main contractor.

The 2,700 sq m bonded warehouse will be built on land next to the existing distillery on the outskirts of Annan, and used to store casks of single and blended malt whisky.

Professor David Thompson, who refurbished the 180-year-old distillery five years ago and now welcomes over 50,000 visitors every year, said: “The warehouse is essential to the ongoing growth of the distillery, and I am delighted that a firm with RH Irving Construction’s many years of experience will be building it.”

The £2.5m scheme in Kirkudbright will see the town’s former primary school transformed into a centre of excellence, nursery class and youth drop-in centre.

The old gymnasium will be converted into a Dark Skies Visitor Centre, capitalising on the nearby Galloway Dark Sky Park.

Jane Brownlee, RH Irving Construction’s resource director, said: “These are very different projects with different challenges, but they also present an exciting opportunity as we continue to expand both our range of services and our reach outside of Cumbria.

“We are delighted to play our part in these important developments in south-west Scotland.”

Ongoing and recent RH Irving Construction projects include the extension of Lloyds Agricultural’s premises in Kingstown, Carlisle and construction of a new hydro power facility in Lancashire.