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Aberdeen Sheriff Court Annex and High Court of Justiciary (Formerly Bank of Scotland), 53 Castle Street, Aberdeen

A Category A Listed Building in Aberdeen, Aberdeen

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.1476 / 57°8'51"N

Longitude: -2.0936 / 2°5'36"W

OS Eastings: 394436

OS Northings: 806307

OS Grid: NJ944063

Mapcode National: GBR SD3.55

Mapcode Global: WH9QQ.TL7X

Plus Code: 9C9V4WX4+2H

Entry Name: Aberdeen Sheriff Court Annex and High Court of Justiciary (Formerly Bank of Scotland), 53 Castle Street, Aberdeen

Listing Name: Aberdeen Sheriff Court Annex and High Court of Justiciary (Formerly Bank Of Scotland), 53 Castle Street, Aberdeen

Listing Date: 12 January 1967

Last Amended: 9 September 2015

Category: A

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 405637

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB20174

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Aberdeen

County: Aberdeen

Town: Aberdeen

Electoral Ward: George St/Harbour

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire

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Description

James Burn, 1801 with circa 1859 addition to Marischal Street by William Smith. 3-storey, 5 x 5-bay classical former bank on prominent sloping corner site. Grey granite ashlar, channelled at ground floor. Base course, impost course, band and string courses, triglyph and disc frieze. Deep modillioned eaves cornice. Piended and platformed roof. Balustraded parapet with blocking course to east. Ground floor openings set within round-arched recesses. Shallow steps lead to recessed 4-panel, 2-leaf timber entrance door, with semi-circular glazed fanlight above, set in round-arched opening. Giant order Doric pilasters separate upper storey bays to Castle Street elevation. Some blind windows to east elevation.

Predominantly plate glass replacement in timber sash and case windows. Grey slate. Coped wallhead and gable stacks.

The interior was seen in 2006 and contains an impressive entrance hall with fluted Corinthian columns (some not structural) and pilasters, sectioned ceiling with quality deep decorative plaster cornicing. Some vaulted cells in basement. The remainder of the building has been comprehensively modernised into courts and offices.

Statement of Interest

Constructed in 1801 the former Aberdeen Banking Company Bank (now Aberdeen Sheriff Court Annex and High Court of Justiciary) was the first fully dressed granite ashlar building to be built in Aberdeen. Built in the Classical style, it set the precedent for the city and the Classical style became the favoured style of 19th century Aberdeen. The workmanship of the exterior masonry detailing is outstanding and particularly unusual for its date. Before steam-powered technology was introduced later in the 19th century, it was difficult to create intricate detailing from the exceptionally hard granite stone. The building is prominently positioned at a crucial corner site in the city centre and it forms a significant part of the streetscape.

Aberdeen Sheriff Court Annex and High Court of Justiciary was constructed in 1801 for the Aberdeen Banking Company and is an early example of its building type. Originally with 2 bays to Marischal Street, William Smith added an extension in 1859 and refurbished the interior decorative scheme. The Aberdeen Bank was incorporated into the Union Bank in 1849 and later into the Bank of Scotland. The building was converted into use for the Scottish Court Service in 2004-5, to accommodate the High Court as well as Sheriff Court Jury sittings.

James Burn (1748-1816) was an architect builder from Haddington, whose main output was houses in the East Lothian area. The Aberdeen Banking Company Bank was one of three buildings he designed in Aberdeen at this time.

William Smith (1817-91) was an Aberdeen based architect who designed domestic, educational, public and private buildings in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. He produced designs for the limited competition of Aberdeen Sheriff Court, where he lost out to Peddie & Kinnear, the practice he replaced in the design of Peterhead Sheriff Court.

Although a number of county buildings were adapted for court use when the adjacent court house required additional accommodation it is rare to find a court house adapted from an entirely different type of building. The monumentality of the classical architecture of banks is appropriate for the status of court buildings, and another example is former Glasgow Sheriff Court and Justice of the Peace Court in Ingram Street, Glasgow (built in 1841 as the Glasgow and Ship Bank) (see separate listing).

Statutory address and listed building record revised as part of the Scottish Courts Listing Review 2014-15. Previously listed as '53 Castle Street, Sheriff Court Annex and High Court of Justiciary (Formerly Bank Of Scotland)'.

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