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West Tornahaish, Corgarff

A Category B Listed Building in Strathdon, Aberdeenshire

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Latitude: 57.1591 / 57°9'32"N

Longitude: -3.1687 / 3°10'7"W

OS Eastings: 329403

OS Northings: 808190

OS Grid: NJ294081

Mapcode National: GBR W9.2T16

Mapcode Global: WH6LT.9BB2

Plus Code: 9C9R5R5J+MG

Entry Name: West Tornahaish, Corgarff

Listing Name: Corgarff, West Tornahaish Including Ancillary Buildings

Listing Date: 14 November 2006

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 399141

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB50630

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Strathdon

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside

Parish: Strathdon

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire

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Probably late 18th to early 19th century. Fine small single storey and attic, 3-bay, rectangular-plan former inn with lean-to outshot at rear, retaining outstanding early interior. Sited at SE gateway to Strathdon close to Old Military Road and at site of former Tornahaish Ford. Coursed and squared pink and grey granite with deep-set openings.

FURTHER DESCRIPTION: entrance elevation to E with boarded timber door and narrow 4-part fanlight at centre, windows in flanking bays. Small attic windows to N and S gables.

4-pane glazing pattern in timber sash and case windows. Grey slates and 3 cast iron rooflights. Coped ashlar gablehead stacks with thackstanes and some cans; ashlar-coped skews.

INTERIOR: fine early interior. Boarded timber doors with early ironwork latches and panelled timber doors to box beds and wall cupboards. Kitchen to S at ground floor with monumental segmental fireplace arch (see Notes) with evidence of a canopied central hearth (uncovered 2004) and working swey. Room to N with timber surround to granite fireplace and cast iron horseshoe grate, box beds at W wall boarded. Timber dividing walls at centre with evidence of former box beds; wall recess behind front door (see Notes). Timber staircase running N-S with open sleeping ledge opposite landing with 2 double box beds 5'6' long. 1st floor mostly timber lined.

ANCILLARY BUILDINGS: 2 single storey, rectangular-plan, rubble ancillary buildings to N of house. Byre to earlier N range, probably 18th century (with 2 later cart bays at N end) retaining interior timberwork with trevises and converted from former dwelling house. S range incorporating barn, stable and grain loft with ladder access to attic bothy and mill course at W, distinctive double-lap slating technique using bull nose slates from Kincardine O'Neil church. Wheel pit and mill course for horizontal mill excavated at rear.

Statement of Interest

This particularly fine group is a notable survival principally for the largely intact interior of the former inn. However, the ancillary buildings, including the early Auld Cote (see below) are also of merit, for example the outstanding barn roof, Emerton says of this technique that it displays the 'undisputed skill of the slater. Only with double-lap slating can such detail be achieved'. Strategically sited on the main Strathdon to Braemar road and quite close to the Colnabaichin Tollhouse, the Inn at Tornahaish, itself the site of an earlier toll-gate, was part of a small group most of which have totally disappeared. Purchased from the Candacraig Estate in 1984, Tornahaish had been empty for ten years from 1955 to 1965. The present (2006) owner discovered a piece of wood recording joinery repairs to the 5'6' long box beds (people slept sitting up) in the 1940s and signed by Duncan Fleeman of Bogfoot (now Rowantree Cottage). One of these box beds is still lined with the Illustrated London News of 1901 featuring the Coronation of King Edward. The very large fireplace opening is one of a very few examples found locally. The most similar being at Mains of Glencarvie, Skellater Old Cottage and Lynmore. A further example retaining its canopied centre hearth is at Begg's House, Badenyon in Glenbuchat, and a striking example with well cut voussoirs is located in an 1822 Glenfenzie farmhouse. Fenton & Walker say 'These fireplaces were much larger than one would expect in the size of building, being of a scale more suitable for the great hall of a tower house or castle'. The wall recess beside the front door, probably used for milk storage, is another feature found in some of these Strathdon houses. The roof covering was formerly of Loinherry slate.

The earliest date traced (by the owner) to a dwelling at Tornahaish is in the parish records of births and marriages for 1703. During the 18th century the owner was George Forbes of Skellater. By 1833 the original farm was divided into at least three holdings, with the ford on the main road in front of the cottage and two large barns opposite running down to the river. A very early photograph (perhaps circa 1840) shows these buildings, as well as the byre as a roofless dwelling house, the stable range had not yet been built. The photograph also shows an earlier vernacular dwelling (the Auld Cote) immediately to the south of the former inn. This is a low, heather thatched cottage with rounded angles and enclosure wall extending westward forming a rear garden. A few courses of the rubble stonework are still evident, with the rounded angles quite obvious, and the current owner has recently (2004) uncovered evidence of a hearth at the north end. A local resident recalls the heather thatch being replaced by corrugated roofing during the 1930s. There are two other dwellings in the parish in similar original condition, they are Fleuchats and Loinherry (both listed separately).

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