History in Structure

This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.

Front section of former office block of Victoria Works, Pilmuir Street, Dunfermline

A Category C Listed Building in Dunfermline, Fife

We don't have any photos of this building yet. Why don't you be the first to send us one?

Upload Photo »

Approximate Location Map
Large Map »

Coordinates

Latitude: 56.0755 / 56°4'31"N

Longitude: -3.4611 / 3°27'39"W

OS Eastings: 309151

OS Northings: 687921

OS Grid: NT091879

Mapcode National: GBR 1Y.P8D7

Mapcode Global: WH5QR.TK1B

Plus Code: 9C8R3GGQ+5H

Entry Name: Front section of former office block of Victoria Works, Pilmuir Street, Dunfermline

Listing Name: Front section including two-bay returns of central office block only and engine house of the former Victoria Works, excluding interior and rear of central office block, adjoining mill buildings (numbe

Listing Date: 12 January 1971

Last Amended: 16 August 2019

Category: C

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 362514

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB26041

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Dunfermline

County: Fife

Town: Dunfermline

Electoral Ward: Dunfermline North

Traditional County: Fife

Find accommodation in
Dunfermline

Description

Description:

The former Victoria Works was designed by Robertson and Orchar and built in 1876 as a textile mill. The central block of the former offices of this mill is two storeys, five bays (with two-bay side returns) in an Italianate style. It fronts Pilmuir Street in Dunfermline.

It is constructed in a mixture of chamfered and plain sandstone blocks. The ground floor is built in rusticated stone and the first floor is built in ashlar block, separated by a prominent projecting string course. The three central bays of the central block are slightly advanced.

The large central doorpiece has double flanking pilasters topped by carved decorative brackets. The door is a timber replacement flanked by narrow, two-paned lights and semi-circular fanlight. Above the entrance is a tripartite window with engaged Corinthian pilasters and columns with a small square balcony with a moulded stone balustrade. There are alternating triangular and arched open pediments on decorative brackets above the first floor pilastered windows and there is a prominent deep and dentilled cornice below the eaves.

The windows are replacement two-pane timber sash and case. Those at the ground floor have arched fixed lights above. The roof is hipped and reslated with two chimneystacks abutting to the rear.

The engine house is a separate building located at the east end of the former Victoria Works site. It is currently being converted housing (2019).

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 interior and rear of the central office block, adjoining mill buildings (numbers 1-16 Lady Campbells Court) and boundary walls.

Historical development

The Victoria Works was built as a steam-powered linen damask mill in 1876 (Hume, p.133). It was designed for Inglis and Company of Dunfermline by the Dundee-based architectural firm, Robertson and Orchar.

The former Victoria Works is situated to the north of the former Dunfermline Brass and Iron Foundry and encompassed a large rectangular-plan site from Grants Bank Street (now Pilmuir Street) to Hill Street to the east. By the early 20th century the site included an office, weaving sheds, an engine house, chimney stalk, boiler house and other ancillary buildings.

The former Victoria Works closed as a weaving factory between 1926 and 1928 before being converted and reopening as an embroidery works for Wilson and Wightman in 1928 (McEwan, p.262). The Ordnance Survey map of 1938 records the Victoria Works as producing fancy linens, however the Third Statistical Account (written in 1952) notes linen production had practically disappeared from Dunfermline by the mid-20th century (p.336). Many of Dunfermline's remaining factories switched to the production of pure and artificial silk. An advert describing the machinery used by the works confirms the former Victoria Works had switched to the production of viscose sometime in the early-20th century (Belfast News-Letter, p.1).

The Victoria Works was bought in 1965 by Glazin and Berry and in around 1990 it was acquired by Castleblair Limited as a storage facility (Dunfermline Heritage, p.16). The site was sold for redevelopment in the mid-2000s.

Since 2006 there have been a number of planning applications for the partial demolition, internal and external alteration and conversion of the former Victoria Works to form housing. This work was completed by 2018, with the exception of the engine house.

Statement of Interest

Statement of Special Interest:

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 interior and rear of the central office block, adjoining mill buildings (numbers 1-16 Lady Campbells Court) and boundary walls.

Architectural interest:

Design

The central office block of the former Victoria Works is an elaborate Italianate-style building with a wealth of good quality and intricately carved stonework. Prominent features such as the dentilled cornice below the eaves, round-arched ground floor windows, first floor windows with deep pediments. The central tripartite window with flanking pilaster and column detailing and the pilastered doorpiece with carved brackets supporting a small balustraded balcony are particularly striking architectural details.

Many of the new power loom factories built in Fife and Angus between the 1850s and the late 1890s were designed by Dundee-based mill engineers and textile manufacturers, Robertson and Orchar (Dictionary of Scottish Architects). These were often Italianate in design with decorative ironwork interior features. Robertson and Orchar built six mills in Dunfermline in the 1860s and 1870s, including Pilmuir Works, Albany Works and St. Margaret's Works. The Victoria Works was one of their last commissions before focussing on refitting and small-scale commissions and is typical of their mill buildings in that it's designed in an Italianate style.

The central office block section is an architecturally distinctive surviving part of a much larger mill complex. It continues to remain readable as the formal entrance because of its imposing position at the centre of the streetscape and level of architectural quality.

Setting

The former Victoria Works is located to the north of Dunfermline town centre and extends from the corner of Victoria Street, fronting Pilmuir Street, to Lady Campbells Walk.

The 2nd Edition Ordnance Survey map shows this area of Dunfermline was once heavily industrialised with three large linen works surrounding a railway station, coal depot, engine works and timber yard. The Victoria Works were located close to the northern edge of the town and the mill site was immediately surrounded by terraced housing. This immediate setting has altered from that shown on the 2nd and later Edition Ordnance Survey maps by the addition of later housing to the north and the change in the industrial skyline.

The 19th century former mill site has been drastically reduced by the demolition of the single-storey weaving sheds to the rear of the building, the removal of the chimney, boiler-house and other associated mill buildings. The recent redevelopment of the area with 21st century housing has further altered the immediate setting which is increasing residential in character.

The front elevation of the former office block does, however, remain an important component of the former Victoria Works. The Italianate front adds to the streetscape and continues to have a visual relationship with the nearby former mills of Pilmuir Works, directly to the southwest, and St. Margaret's Works to the west. Together these surviving parts of these once larger mills evidence the heyday of the linen industry and its importance to the growth and wealth of Dunfermline.

Historic interest:

Age and rarity

Damask weaving was introduced to Dunfermline in the early-18th century as a cottage industry. By the mid to late-19th century it had become the leading British town for the manufacture of damask table linen and large-scale weaving was one of the major industries of Fife (Buildings of Scotland, pp.54, 175). Dunfermline represented the weaving industry at the Great Exhibition of 1851 and the International Exhibition of 1862 (McEwan, p.60). The town and its textile industry expanded with the advent of the railways for the distribution of goods and the receiving of coal from the Fife coalfields, and by the increased use of steam looms.

By the late-19th century there were eleven large damask mills in Dunfermline, with a concentration around the Pilmuir Street area. As linen declined, there was a move to silk production from around the 1920s. There are now no working mills in Dunfermline and many of the former mill buildings have been demolished or adapted for other purposes.

The Victoria Works was built during the peak of linen manufacturing in Dunfermline and was one of the largest mills in the town. The front central section of the former office block is a remnant of the larger Victoria Works mill complex. It has been remodelled extensively as part of its conversion to housing but retains its architecturally distinctive front elevation with its good quality stonework and Italianate design. It is a distinctive and increasingly rare survival of this once familiar industrial building type in Dunfermline.

Social historical interest

Large textile mills and their distinctive tall chimneys, once dominated the town of Dunfermline. The cotton and linen damask, and later silk, weaving industry was an important industry for the growth and wealth town, alongside coal, in the 19th century with cotton and linen damask production dominated until the turn of the 20th century.

The Victoria Works was built for Inglis and Company, which was one of the three major textile manufacturing firms in Dunfermline. The Victoria Works was built following the rapid expansion of their textile business that commenced at Castleblair Works in Dunfermline, which was built in 1868.

Working textile mills and their associated ancillary businesses, such as spinners, embroiderers and finishers, no longer survive in Dunfermline. The few large industrial mill buildings that do remain in the town are often the former offices or warehouses with most weaving sheds now demolished. Many of these surviving buildings have been adapted for other purposes.

The central block of the Victoria Works has social historical interest because, in its current form, continues to illustrate an industry that no longer survives which was vital to the economic and social history of this part of Scotland.

Other Information

The current listed building record (written in 1971) describes the engine house as the most complete of its type in Dunfermline.

Statutory address, category of listing changed from B to C and listed building record revised in 2019. Previously listed as 'Pilmuir Street, Victoria Works (Castleblair Ltd), including boundary wall to south and west'.

Recommended Books

Other nearby listed buildings

BritishListedBuildings.co.uk is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact BritishListedBuildings.co.uk for any queries related to any individual listed building, planning permission related to listed buildings or the listing process itself.

British Listed Buildings is a Good Stuff website.