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1-7 Burns Statue Square, Ayr

A Category C Listed Building in Ayr, South Ayrshire

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Latitude: 55.4587 / 55°27'31"N

Longitude: -4.6286 / 4°37'43"W

OS Eastings: 233888

OS Northings: 621461

OS Grid: NS338214

Mapcode National: GBR 39.Y4V4

Mapcode Global: WH2PW.W223

Plus Code: 9C7QF95C+FH

Entry Name: 1-7 Burns Statue Square, Ayr

Listing Name: 1-7 (odd numbers only) Burns Statue Square, excluding brick hall to rear, Ayr

Listing Date: 10 January 1980

Last Amended: 12 July 2016

Category: C

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 405997

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB21517

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Ayr

County: South Ayrshire

Town: Ayr

Electoral Ward: Ayr West

Traditional County: Ayrshire

Tagged with: Architectural structure

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This 3-storey, 5-bay former administration and recreation offices for a drill hall was designed by James Archibald Morris and dates to 1901. 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 brick hall to the rear.

The building is red sandstone ashlar and there are shops on the ground floor. An oriel window at first floor level at the north end of the street elevation rises to form a 3-stage castellated tower. There is a cornice above the ground floor, a moulded eaves course and a dentilled cornice. The first floor windows are transomed and mullioned bi and tripartite windows. The first and second floor windows are predominantly small pane, with casement windows to the second floor and sash and case windows at first floor. The roof has grey slates and corniced chimney stacks with circular cans.

5 Burns Statue Square has a recessed entrance on the right with a glass and timber entrance door. There are small pane transom lights above the shop and plate glass windows. Other shops have boarded windows, with framing for small pane transom lights.

The interior of the shop at number 5 was seen in 2015 and is mostly fitted out with timber and glass fixtures and furniture, consistent with the early 20th century date. There is a timber counter with a glass fronted display area below and other glass fronted display cases lie to the rear. Timber wall shelving with cupboards and drawers below sit behind the counter.

Statement of Interest

This 1901 drill hall administration building was designed by the local architect James A Morris and is a distinctive building in the town centre of Ayr. The building has a number of good decorative stonework details to the front elevation, including a prominent castellated tower. This gives the building a strongly military appearance, which relates to its original function. 5 Burns Statue Square is a tobacconists shop with a rare surviving, largely intact and well-detailed early 20th century internal furnishings.

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 brick hall to the rear.

1-7 Burns Statue Square was built as a drill hall in 1901 for the 2nd Volunteer Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers, but it was only used by them for a few years. The Royal Scots Fusiliers was one of the oldest of the Scottish Regiments and was the county regiment of Ayrshire. The building consisted of office and recreational facilities at the street elevation and there was a large gabled drill hall to the rear. Information from the Scottish Dictionary of Architects notes that the drill hall, when built, was to have an armoury for 300 rifles, a gymnasium, a reading room, a billiards room, an officers' mess, a sergeants' mess and artistes' rooms and a platform.

A notice in the Dundee Evening Telegraph from 1909 notes that the hall, which was by then the headquarters of the 5th Battallion Royal Scots Fusiliers, was sold for £10,500 at a public roup (auction). The building was sold to a Mr Shaw, a solicitor in Ayr. As a result of the Haldane Reforms in 1907, when Volunteer forces joined together to become Territorial Associations, the drill hall was not required and had been offered to the War Office for £10,000. They declined to purchase it, and therefore it was sold at public auction. By 1910, the large drill hall to the rear had become a picture house and it was later used as a dance hall and ballroom.

No 5 Burns Statue Square is understood to have been a tobacconists shop since the early 20th century. It is one of the very few remaining tobacconist shops in Scotland. Tobacconists were once a common sight, but with changes in tobacco use, the majority have disappeared. Many tobacconist shops were small, as the goods did not need a large space to be displayed. 5 Burns Statue Square is unusual in its relatively large size. The other shops on the ground floor are currently unused (2015).

This drill hall was designed by James Archibald Morris (1857-1942), who practised in both Ayr and London. Alongside his architectural work, including Savoy Croft in Racecourse Road, Ayr (LB21795), Morris wrote a number of books about Ayrshire and its history and was also a Volunteer. It is possible that he was commissioned to build 1-7 Burns Statue Square because of his Volunteer connections.

In the late 1850s there was concern in the British Government about the Army's ability to defend both the home nation as well as the Empire. Britain's military defences were stretched and resources to defend Britain needed to be found. One solution was to create 'Volunteer Forces', a reserve of men who volunteered for part-time military training similar to that of the regular army and who could therefore help to defend Britain if the need arose.

In 1859 the Rifle Volunteer Corps was formed and the Volunteer Act of 1863 provided more regulation on how the volunteer forces were run and it set out the standards for drills and a requirement for annual inspections. Most purpose-built drill halls constructed at this time are were paid for by a major local landowner, the subscriptions of volunteers, local fundraising efforts or a combination of all three. The Regulations of the Forces Act 1871 (known as the Cardwell Reforms after the Secretary of State for War, Edward Cardwell) gave forces the legal right to acquire land to build a drill hall and more purpose-built drill halls began to be constructed after this date. The largest period of drill hall construction, aided by government grants, took place between 1880 and 1910. The Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907 (known as the Haldane Reforms after the Secretary of State for War, Richard Haldane) came into force in 1908 and the various Volunteer Units were consolidated to form the Territorial Force. The construction of drill halls largely ceased during the First World War and in 1920 the Territorial Force became the Territorial Army.

In the 20th century changes in warfare and weaponry made many of the earlier drill halls redundant and subject to demolition or change to a new use. Around 344 drill halls are believed to have been built in Scotland of which 182 are thought to survive today, although few remain in their original use. Drill halls are an important part of our social and military history. They tell us much about the development of warfare and the history of defending our country. They also, unusually for a nationwide building programme, were not standardised and were often designed by local architects in a variety of styles and they also have a part to play in the history of our communities.

The requirements for drill halls were basic – a large covered open space to train and drill as well as a place for the secure storage of weapons. The vast majority of drill halls were modest utilitarian structures. Most drill halls conformed to the pattern of an administrative block containing offices and the armoury to store weapons along with a caretaker or drill instructors accommodation, usually facing the street. To the rear would be the drill hall itself. Occasionally more extensive accommodation was required, such as for battalion headquarters where interior rifle ranges, libraries, billiards rooms, lecture theatres and bars could all be included.

Category changed from B to C, statutory address and listed building record revised in 2016 as part of the Drill Halls Listing Review 2015-16. Previously listed as '1-7 (odd nos) Burns Statue Square'.

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