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Hamilton Place, Whitehill Bowling Green Wall, Including Piers, Railings and Gates

A Category B Listed Building in Aberdeen, Aberdeen

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.1474 / 57°8'50"N

Longitude: -2.127 / 2°7'37"W

OS Eastings: 392414

OS Northings: 806291

OS Grid: NJ924062

Mapcode National: GBR S7C.PL

Mapcode Global: WH9QQ.9MD1

Entry Name: Hamilton Place, Whitehill Bowling Green Wall, Including Piers, Railings and Gates

Listing Date: 26 May 1977

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 355731

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB20627

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Aberdeen

County: Aberdeen

Town: Aberdeen

Electoral Ward: Hazlehead/Queens Cross/Countesswells

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire

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Description

Whitehall Bowling Green walls, railings and gates along the south side of Hamilton Place, were built 1885-1886 likely to the designs of Pirie and Clyne, architects. They are a single course of rough-faced pink granite wall with contrasting grey granite Aberdeen bond snecking and coping, on top of a rubble retaining wall which has a cement render. The walls are topped by cast iron railings with a distinctive flower-like paterae finials.

The walls flank a central two-leaf gate (of a similar design to the railings) that leads to a small flight of granite steps. At the outer end of the walls are granite piers comprising a grey granite shaft swept up from plinth and a rough-faced pink granite neck surmounted by a scrolled capstone.

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing: the boundary walls returning to southeast and southwest.

Statement of Interest

These boundary walls including piers, railings, gates and steps date from 1885 to 1886 when Whitehall Bowling Club was founded and opened. The flower-like paterae design of these railings and gates is very distinctive and characteristic of the work of Pirie and Clyne – a signature element of their work. This design of the railings and the wave-like scroll of the end piers echoes the detailing of contemporary surrounding buildings on Hamilton Place. The walls are largely unaltered and are an important part of this late 19th century streetscape, with the other listed buildings by Pirie and Clyne on Hamilton Place. The flower-like paterae design of these railings and gates is very distinctive and its association with an architect is rare. The survival of an extensive run of railings is also remarkable.

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing: the boundary walls returning to southeast and southwest.

Age and Rarity

The Whitehill Bowling Green walls line the northern boundary of Whitehall Bowling Club. Whitehall Bowling Club was founded in 1885 by a group of local business men, to provide a recreational facility for this part of Aberdeen. It opened on 5 June 1886.

One of the founders was the successful builder and master mason, John Morgan. Morgan commissioned for sale the row of fine semi-detached late 19th century villas (see separate listings, LB20636 to LB20343 and LB20629), by architects John Bridgeford Pirie and Arthur Clyne, on the north side of Hamilton Place (between Fountainhall Road and Whitehall Road). Morgan and Pirie were his close friends and it may be through this connection that Pirie and Clyne were involved with the bowling club. Receipts in the John Bridgeford Pirie archive show that in 1885 and 1887 Pirie had shares in the Whitehall Bowling and Tennis Green (Reference MS 3067/5).

In 1885 Pirie and Clyne submitted working plans of the proposed new bowling green, pavilion and other accessories at a meeting of the bowling club's directors (Aberdeen Evening Press, 10 April 1885). The article of 1885 stated that the laying out of the greens, the building of the boundary walls, the erection of the pavilion and other necessary offices will cost between £600 and £700. The railings and boundary walls were a part of the original design as they are mentioned in the subsequent Aberdeen Evening Express article of 5 June 1886 which is an account of the opening of the bowling green.

The outline of the bowling green including the entrance steps and the pavilion are shown on the 2nd Edition Ordnance Survey Map (published 1901). The current pavilion at Whitehall Bowling Club is located on the footprint of the original Pirie and Clyne building. The present building has been substantially altered with very little trace of the earlier pavilion remaining.

Information gathered from local knowledge in 2000 (at the date of the last listing review) suggested that the same design of railings would have surmounted all the walls lining the street.

The distinctive design of railings survive outside a small number houses in Aberdeen that are associated with Pirie and Clyne work. They can be found at 50 Queen's Road, a villa designed by the practice between 1885 and 1887 for John Morgan (see separate listing, LB20459) as well as between 56 and 54 Polmuir Street and adjacent to 52 Polmuir Street. The architect for the villas in Polmuir Street is not known but may be one of number of early 20th century villas in the same street designed by George Sutherland, who was articled to Pirie & Clyne between 1878 and 1883.

This same style of railings also survives at 222-224 Westburn Road (see separate listing, LB46991) fronting a pair of semi-detached villas dating to the early 20th century which are thought to be the work of Clyne. The attribution is based on the similarity of this building to a known Pirie and Clyne building nearby in Argyll Place and Crescent and to the use there of the same flower-pattern railings.

Boundary walls and railings from the late 19th century are commonly found alongside villas built across Scotland. What sets the railings at Whitehall Bowling Club apart is their quality and bespoke design by the celebrated Aberdeen architectural practice of Pirie and Clyne. They were specifically designed to complement the buildings they enclosed, and the paterae are a signature motif that is repeated in their architecture.

The walls, railing, piers and entrance steps have been designed as a set piece and are contemporary with the planning and laying out of this late 19th century bowling green to integrate seamlessly within the streetscape of this residential area. They appear to be largely unaltered since they were erected in the late 19th century and are also remarkable as the longest extent of these bespoke railings known to survive.

Architectural or Historic Interest

Interior

N/A

Plan form

N/A

Technological excellence or innovation, material or design quality

Architect-designed railings are highly unusual. The flower-like paterae design of these railings and gates is very distinctive and unusual. Whilst there is no precise documentary evidence known at present to confirm the designer or maker of these railings, it is highly likely that they are a bespoke design by Pirie and Clyne.

The stylised paterae are a signature motif that appear in the majority of the designs by the architects, including the paterae found in the gableheads and parapets of their villas opposite the bowling club. The paterae are probably a development of the sunflower (a favourite motif of the Aesthetic Movement) or daffodil. A variation of the patera was also a favourite motif of Alexander 'Greek' Thomson, who is known to have been a strong influence on Pirie's work in particular.

The John Bridgeford Pirie collection in the National Record of the Historic Environment (Scotland) has a number of drawings relating to the practice's work in Hamilton Place. Whilst none of these drawings show designs for boundary walls or railings, a design of a decorative detail for a building (reference DC46494) bears a striking resemblance to the railing's finial. The drawing depicts an asymmetrical square panel with a patera flower above a leaf and scroll.

The scrolled wave-like motif of the chunky end piers are similar to the elaborate volutes flanking the gableheads of Pirie and Clyne's houses in Hamilton Place and the piers directly below the first floor bow windows. Pirie s father was a sea-captain, so it is possible that this marine connection influenced Pirie s use of this detail.

John Bridgeford Pirie (1848-1892) and Arthur Clyne (1853-1924) merged their independent architectural practices in 1881 after sharing offices, becoming known as Pirie and Clyne. Pirie was a close friend of the builder, John Morgan, who provided the practice with a steady flow of commissions for villas and terraced housing. Their finest terrace is 62-98 (even nos.) Hamilton Place (listed at category A) was commissioned by Morgan. Built between 1885 and 1891, this row of semi-detached mirrored villas are individual but unified by masonry techniques and variations of the same decorative motifs – a variety of Greek, Scots Baronial, Aesthetic Movement and even proto-Art Nouveau.

John Morgan was a successful master mason and builder who was responsible for a number of notable buildings in Aberdeen. He specialised in high quality granite cutting and carving. He was also a town councillor from 1885 to 1892, during which time he was involved in planning Rosemount Viaduct. The Dictionary of Scottish Architects notes that Morgan s travels in America and the Far East were to have a considerable influence on the decorative arts aspect of the practice through the books and prints he brought home.

Setting

Whitehall Bowling Green Walls including piers, railings, gates and steps are a distinctive feature of the streetscape of Hamilton Place.

Immediately to the east and west of the bowling club is 63 Hamilton Place (listed at category B, LB20626) and 79 Hamilton Place (listed at category A, LB20628), both designed by Pirie and Clyne. The bowling club is opposite Pirie and Clyne's finest terrace of villas, 62-98 Hamilton Place (each pair is listed at category A, LB20636 to LB20343 and LB20629). By echoing the detailing of these buildings, Whitehall Bowling Club walls form a good group with the other listed buildings by Pirie and Clyne on Hamilton Place.

The streetscape has not significantly changed from that shown on the 2nd Edition Ordnance Survey Map. The walls, railing, piers and entrance steps have been designed as a set piece and are contemporary with the planning and laying out of this late 19th century bowling green to integrate seamlessly within the streetscape of this residential area as conceived by the architects.

Regional variations

The Aberdeen bond snecking of the walls is of some is of interest as this style is particular to Aberdeen.

2.3 Close Historical Associations

There are no known associations with a person or event of national importance at present (2017).

Statutory address and listed building record revised in 2017. Previously listed as 'Hamilton Place, Whitehill Bowling Green Wall, including Piers, Railings and Gates '.

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