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Oban Sheriff Court, Albany Street

A Category B Listed Building in Oban, Argyll and Bute

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Latitude: 56.4113 / 56°24'40"N

Longitude: -5.4734 / 5°28'24"W

OS Eastings: 185818

OS Northings: 729759

OS Grid: NM858297

Mapcode National: GBR DCVS.5MV

Mapcode Global: WH0GK.W3ST

Plus Code: 9C8PCG6G+GJ

Entry Name: Oban Sheriff Court, Albany Street

Listing Name: Oban Sheriff Court and Justice Of The Peace Court, Albany Street, Oban

Listing Date: 12 October 1995

Last Amended: 9 September 2015

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 405630

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB38801

Building Class: Cultural

ID on this website: 200405630

Location: Oban

County: Argyll and Bute

Town: Oban

Electoral Ward: Oban South and the Isles

Traditional County: Argyllshire

Tagged with: Courthouse

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David MacKintosh of Oban, 1886-1889. 2-storey, 5x2 bay, rectangular-plan, Italianate court house on prominent corner site with large round-arched windows at first floor and shorter 4-bay annex to rear (southeast) containing principal stair and offices. Sandstone ashlar to main block, channelled at ground. Base course, cill courses. Splayed, moulded window surrounds to round-arched first floor windows. Dentil cornice. Parapet above with pyramidal capped dies. 2-leaf, 6-panelled timber entrance doors set in pilastered door-piece with decorative consoles supporting cornice surmounted by urns and balustrade.

Predominantly squared and snecked granite with sandstone dressings to annex (rubble to south east gable elevation). Ground floor cill course continues from principal block to northeast. 3 windows to ground floor and 4 windows at first floor. Plain cornice at eaves surmounted by blocking course. Central bipartite stair window to centre of east gable elevation. Small window in gablehead.

8-pane glazing in round-arched timber sash and case windows. Predominantly 4-pane glazng in timber sash and case windows elsewhere. Square leaded coloured glass to bipartite stair window at southeast gable. Grey-slated, piended roof to front block, concealed by parapet. Intersecting grey slated, pitched roof to annex with skew copes at gable. Box gutters behind blocking courses. Cast iron downpipes with plain hoppers. Annex stacks at gable and ridge with square, panelled and modillioned cans

The interior, seen in 2014, has a vestibule screen by James G Falconer, 1911, 2-leaf timber doors with glazed upper panels and square-leaded lights to sides and above. Parquet flooring to entrance hall. Wide stone dog-leg stair with decorative cast iron balusters and timber handrail. 6-panel timber doors to offices from landing, timber door with replacement glazing in upper panel. Courtroom has coved ceiling with decorative cornice. Partially refurbished fixtures, circa 1990, with pine wainscoting, panelled timber bench with fretwork decoration of anthemion and palmette motifs. The main offices at ground and first floor level show evidence of corner fireplaces (now covered or infilled). Decorative 19th century gas-lamp fittings and brackets survive throughout the building.

Statement of Interest

Oban Sheriff Court is an imposing and well-detailed Italianate-Renaissance county court house. Completed in 1889 the building is classically proportioned with bold detailing to its principal north and east elevations, including moulded bandcourse between first floor windows, dentilled parapet and blocking course and the large, moulded round-headed windows indicating the courtroom at first floor level.

Oban Sheriff Court is located on a prominent corner site on Albany Street, the principal thoroughfare through the burgh, It is at the centre of a group of late 19th century civic buildings including a Police Station and County Municipal Buildings opposite (see separate listings).

David Mackintosh was a local architect of considerable ability, having been in partnership with the renowned and highly prolific Highland architect, Alexander Ross, between 1875 and 1883. Oban Sheriff Court was one of his most high profile works, commissioned shortly after he set up practice on his own around 1886.

The development of the court house as a building type in Scotland follows the history of the Scottish legal system and wider government reforms. The majority of purpose-built court houses were constructed in the 19th century as by this time there was an increase in the separation of civic, administrative and penal functions into separate civic and institutional buildings, and the resultant surge of public building was promoted by new institutional bodies. The introduction of the Sheriff Court Houses (Scotland) Act of 1860 gave a major impetus to the increase and improvement of court accommodation and the provision of central funding was followed by the most active period of sheriff court house construction in the history of the Scottish legal system, and many new court houses were built or reworked after this date.

Court houses constructed after 1860 generally had a solely legal purpose and did not incorporate a prison, other than temporary holding cells. The courts were designed in a variety of architectural styles but often relied heavily on Scots Baronial features to reference the fortified Scottish building tradition. Newly constructed court buildings in the second half of the 19th century dispensed with large public spaces such as county halls and instead provided bespoke office accommodation for the sheriff, judge and clerks, and accommodated the numerous types of court and holding cells.

Statutory address and listed building record revised as part of the Scottish Courts Listing Review, 2014-15. Previously listed as 'Albany Street, Sheriff Court-House'.

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