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Museum Building excluding shelter addition to rear, Kelburn Castle Estate, Fairlie

A Category C Listed Building in Largs, North Ayrshire

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Latitude: 55.7699 / 55°46'11"N

Longitude: -4.8439 / 4°50'37"W

OS Eastings: 221701

OS Northings: 656610

OS Grid: NS217566

Mapcode National: GBR 31.9HW1

Mapcode Global: WH2N7.K7ML

Entry Name: Museum Building excluding shelter addition to rear, Kelburn Castle Estate, Fairlie

Listing Date: 18 November 2016

Category: C

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 406545

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB52409

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Largs

County: North Ayrshire

Electoral Ward: North Coast and Cumbraes

Parish: Largs

Traditional County: Ayrshire

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Around 1892-1908. Single storey, 3-bay, rectangular-plan, timber and corrugated iron museum building, located beside the Kel Burn to the south of Kelburn Castle.

The building has a gabled porch to the central bay. Timber barge-board eaves. Brick base. Brick end stacks with clay cans. There is decorative cast iron brattishing to the roof ridge and the porch. Timber-framed, 4-pane glazing to windows.

The interior, seen in 2016, has timber boarded walls and an A-frame timber ceiling with timber panelling. To each gable end are elaborately carved timber fireplace surrounds.

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following is excluded from the listing: shelter addition to rear.

Statement of Interest

The Museum Building at Kelburn Estate is a notable example of a corrugated iron building and is among a relatively small number of good surviving buildings of this type. It was built to serve an unusual purpose as a museum and is largely unaltered from the date of its construction, currently remaining in its original use. It is distinguished within its building type by the survival of its ornamental ironwork to the ridge of the roof and to the porch and its intact timber panelled interior including a pair of ornately carved timber fireplaces. The corrugated iron museum building is a distinctive component of a group of ancillary buildings at Kelburn Estate including stable offices, lodges and worker's cottages.

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following is excluded from the listing: shelter addition to rear.

Age and Rarity

This corrugated iron and timber building is located on the south side of the Kel Burn to the South of Kelburn Castle. While not evident on the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey map, surveyed in 1855, its footprint is shown in its present location, with porch projection to the south elevation, on the 2nd Edition Ordnance Survey map, surveyed in 1908. The 7th Earl of Glasgow, David Boyle, succeeded to the earldom in 1890 and was Governor General of New Zealand from 1892 to 1897. It is understood that he erected this building in the grounds of Kelburn Castle to house his collection of artefacts brought back from New Zealand during his tenure as Governor. The building is therefore most likely to have been built between 1892 and 1908.

British engineer Henry Robinson Palmer recognised the potential of galvanised and corrugated sheet iron as a roof covering supported by a wooden frame in 1829. Corrugation involves the shaping of iron in parallel furrows or flutes to increase strength and rigidity. Tin buildings were often erected as a temporary measure while more substantial stone buildings were either being built or funding for them sought. As the technology to mass-produce building components during the latter half of the 19th century coincided with the coming of the railways, hundreds of easily assembled buildings constructed from corrugated iron were put up across the country to cater for a wide variety of purposes including drill halls, lodges, schoolrooms, village halls and perhaps most commonly and conspicuously as rural churches or 'tin tabernacles' as church congregations increased due to religious divisions and revivals during the 19th century.

Numerous companies formed to specialise in the design and manufacture of these iron and timber buildings and by the 1880s, clients could choose various designs and elements from a manufacturer s pattern book to suit their purposes and budget. The peak of production appears to have been between 1890 and 1900. Floors were usually of suspended timber, with the entire building normally sitting on a masonry or brick plinth, built prior to the arrival of the building. The corrugated iron buildings that survive reflect an important shift in engineering and manufacturing in Scotland and also contribute to our wider understanding of religious, social and economic change.

The rarity within this building type results from the fact that many were superseded by stone or brick structures. Very few examples survive in direct relation to the numbers built. The fact that some survive in a good state of repair shows that they are not only robust and long-lasting when routinely maintained, but also indicates that funds for buildings to replace them were not always found. Variations which distinguish certain examples from the more standard types can also add to the interest. The earliest known surviving corrugated iron building in Scotland is the 'Iron Ballroom' (LB51479) of 1851 on the Balmoral Estate, Aberdeenshire. Other examples that have been recognised through listing include St Fillan s Episcopal Church (1876) at Killin, Stirlingshire (LB46364), and Lamlash Community Centre (1914), North Ayrshire (LB49536).

While the company that manufactured the Museum Building at Kelburn Estate is not currently known, its design closely resembles those produced by the firm of Frederick Braby and Company (established London, 1854 and Glasgow, 1874) who were among largest and most prolific producers of iron buildings in Scotland, employing 1700 workers by 1880 and exporting iron buildings across the world. Corrugated iron was widely exported to Australia and New Zealand from the 1850s and has contributed to a distinctive regional architecture in those countries. The 7th Earl of Glasgow's 5 year tenure as Governor General of New Zealand may have influenced the decision to use an iron building to house his collection.

Kelburn is among the oldest ancestral country seats in Scotland to have been continuously inhabited by successive generations of one family, having been in possession of the Boyle family (formerly de Boyville ) since the 12th century. Kelburn has a prominent coastal setting to the south of the town of Largs, with views from the castle across the Firth of Clyde to the Isles of Cumbrae and Bute and southwest to the Isle of Arran. The Kel Burn runs through the estate, passing through a wooded ravine and over a 15 metre high waterfall into a naturally carved pool to the southwest of the castle.

Architectural or Historic Interest


The interior survives largely as constructed and includes unusual features such as a pair of ornately carved timber fireplaces, which add to its architectural interest.

Plan form

The rectangular plan with single interior space and a projecting entrance porch is a typical form within the corrugated iron building type. The fireplaces at each end is a less common feature.

Technological excellence or innovation, material or design quality

The relatively grand timber fireplaces, ornamental ironwork to the ridge of the roof and the porch, and its largely intact timber panelled interior and timber framed windows add to the material quality of this corrugated iron building which were usually built as temporary structures.


This corrugated iron building occupies the same location as it did when constructed aound the turn of the 20th century. It is part of a wider group of associated contemporary estate buildings which reflect the 19th and early 20th century development of the estate.

Regional variations

There are no known regional variations.

Close Historical Associations

None known at present. Kelburn is among the oldest country seats in Scotland to have been continuously inhabited by successive generations of one family, the Boyles.

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