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Latitude: 55.7505 / 55°45'1"N
Longitude: -4.6333 / 4°37'59"W
OS Eastings: 234822
OS Northings: 653930
OS Grid: NS348539
Mapcode National: GBR 39.BPRY
Mapcode Global: WH2NB.SQVG
Entry Name: 10 and 12 Eglinton Street, Saracen's Head
Listing Date: 2 December 1980
Source: Historic Scotland
Source ID: 331366
Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB921
Building Class: Cultural
County: North Ayrshire
Electoral Ward: Kilbirnie and Beith
Traditional County: Ayrshire
Later 18th century, with alterations circa 1800 and late 19th century. 2-storey and attic, 4-bay inn with central nepus gable. 2 off-centre pilastered doorpieces circa 1800 with quatrefoils, raised curved block above cornice; 4 windows to 1st floor, 2 above to nepus gable; late 19th century piended bipartite dormers to L and R. Harled with painted window margins, base course and moulded eaves cornice.
N (REAR) ELEVATION: modern corrugated metal cladding.
Inappropriate uPVC replacement windows to ground and 1st floor; timber sash and case glazing to remaining windows. Grey slate roof; corniced ashlar stack to apex of nepus gable with 3 octagonal clay cans
INTERIOR: virtually no surviving features. Painted glass Aesthetic style stair window to rear circa 1890.
In the mid to late 18th century Beith prospered not only from industries based on textile production and finishing but from a significant illicit trade in tea, tobacco and spirits. Smugglers took refuge in the town on the way from the coast with the goods to the larger centres of Paisley and Glasgow. Many of the buildings on Eglinton Street are said to have cellars to the rear (where ground falls away steeply) where the contraband was stored and it is possible that the inn was frequented by smugglers during the period.
The architectural significance of this nepus-gabled building is given added weight by its very prominent location at the centre of the town. Looking down from the Strand, at right angles to Eglinton Street, the Saracen's Head hotel terminates the view. It is also in close proximity to the Cross, at the historic heart of the town, which has another very good nepus-gabled building at Nos 24-28 (separately listed). Other comparable examples in Beith include the adjoining 14-16 Eglinton Street (though unfortunately this is less well preserved); 2-6 Reform Street; the Smuggler's Tavern at 53-55 Main Street; and 26-30 Main Street. Beith still has a fairly good proportion of these buildings, common in Ayrshire, giving the town a very distinctive character and contributing greatly to the townscape. These are important survivals of an early period of building in the town relative to the 3-bay 2-storey villa form more prevalent in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Sadly, a number of these buildings have been demolished such as in New Street or have had the nepus gable removed such as at 21-23 Main Street (see Reid, The Story of Beith's Newspaper (2000) pp71,106 for old photographs). 19th century dormers are a common addition to this building type and are in themselves of interest being of appropriate traditional materials and scale.
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