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Townhall Street, Town House

A Category A Listed Building in Inverkeithing, Fife

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Latitude: 56.0313 / 56°1'52"N

Longitude: -3.397 / 3°23'49"W

OS Eastings: 313040

OS Northings: 682924

OS Grid: NT130829

Mapcode National: GBR 20.S4S6

Mapcode Global: WH6S3.SNKP

Entry Name: Townhall Street, Town House

Listing Date: 11 December 1972

Category: A

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 379536

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB35087

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Inverkeithing

County: Fife

Town: Inverkeithing

Electoral Ward: Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay

Traditional County: Fife

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1754-1755 square-plan tower, John Monroe; 3-storey, 4-bay (to upper floors) main block of 1769-1770, George Monroe. Coursed sandstone ashlar to tower; caulked ashlar to main block; random rubble to N (rear). Deep base course; eaves course; stone cills; projecting quoins (main block); rusticated quoins (tower); pedimented tower with octagonal belfry and ogee roof. Crowstepped skew to NE; beaked skewputts.

S (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: main block: central moulded and corniced doorpiece, dated "17 - 70"; flanked by keystoned doorway to left and keystoned window to right; round-arched and keystoned doorway (former pend leading to St Peter's churchyard) to far right; small square window to far left. 4 evenly spaced 1st floor windows (flagpole rising from centre). 4 square evenly spaced 2nd floor windows with iron bars (former debtors' prison) set close to eaves. Tower to left of main block: keystoned round-arched doorway with heavy pilasters to 1st stage; keystoned round-arched window to pedimented 2nd stage, bisected by string course, carved burgh coat of arms to pediment; corniced 3rd stage with raised, bracketed, blank square panel; octagonal belfry, keystoned round-arched openings with louvered panels to each face; octagonal ogee roof; wrought-iron weather vane finial. Stone forestair and rusticated round-arched doorway to left return of tower.

E ELEVATION: adjoins Nos 8 and 10 Townhall Street.

N ELEVATION: main block: 4 ground floor windows (that to far left set within former pend, evidence of rubble arch above). Single 1st floor window off centre right; large window to far right; bipartite window to left. 2 large cast-iron rooflights. Full-height flat roof extension to right (to rear of tower): small windows at ground and 1st floors. Large window at 2nd floor.

W ELEVATION: adjoins No 2 Townhall Street.

Predominantly 12-pane timber sash and case windows; timber panelled and boarded doors. Pitched and ogival roofs; grey slates; straight stone skews (single crowstepped skew to NE); beaked skewputts; corniced ashlar gable apex stacks; circular clay cans.

INTERIOR: stone slab floor and risers to central stairwell leading to 1st floor. Former council chamber to E of plan at 1st floor with late 18th century Windsor armchair (original councillor's chair) and circa 1930s semi-circular councillors' tables and leather-padded armchairs; early document store off council chamber. Coved ceiling to former debtor's prison at 2nd floor; late 19th century cast-iron and tiled fire-surround to E wall.

Statement of Interest

This building is a very fine achievement for a small burgh and possibly the most distinguished building in Inverkeithing. The interest in the Town House (or Tolbooth) lies mostly in its exterior, however the layout of the rooms still follows roughly its 18th century outline. The Town House stands on the N side of Townhall Street, at the S edge of the medieval parish churchyard and overlooking the former market area at the N end of High Street, which is now occupied by an island block. The mercat cross (see separate listing), now removed to Bank Street (1974), once stood directly in front of the tolbooth (from 1799; previously at the N end of High Street). Provision was made for prison accommodation at ground floor level, with cells in the room immediately to the E of the staircase and the steeple. The 2nd floor was altered in 1777 to provide rooms for debtors. The Town House bell, of 1667 by Johannes Burgerhuys, has been removed and is located in Inverkeithing museum. Inverkeithing had a tolbooth as early as 1550, when rents were received from the booths on the ground floor; but in 1687 it was considered insufficiently secure to prevent the escape of prisoners. However, the present building may ascribe to two main building phases in the 18th century. The steeple was built in 1754-1755, under the supervision of John Monroe, to replace one which was in danger of collapse. In 1769 the town council, after considering the ruinous state of the remainder of the tolbooth, agreed that this should be taken down, widened and repaired. This work was completed in the following year, and payment was made to George Monroe, mason, for his trouble in drawing plans. Since the dissolution of the Burgh Council in 1975, the Town House is used mostly as community centre, providing accommodation for a number of organisations including Inverkeithing Community Council, the Local History Society and a nursery (2003). (Notes compiled mainly from RCAHMS, Tolbooths and Town-houses.)

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