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Former officers' quarters including outbuildings to rear and excluding scheduled monument SM90036, Blackness Castle, Blackness

A Category C Listed Building in Bo'ness and Blackness, Falkirk

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Latitude: 56.0057 / 56°0'20"N

Longitude: -3.5172 / 3°31'1"W

OS Eastings: 305491

OS Northings: 680236

OS Grid: NT054802

Mapcode National: GBR 1W.TMSD

Mapcode Global: WH5R3.Y9BS

Entry Name: Former officers' quarters including outbuildings to rear and excluding scheduled monument SM90036, Blackness Castle, Blackness

Listing Date: 25 October 2017

Category: C

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 406938

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB52455

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Bo'Ness and Carriden

County: Falkirk

Electoral Ward: Bo'ness and Blackness

Parish: Bo'Ness And Carriden

Traditional County: West Lothian



The building is a former officers quarters associated with Blackness Castle, built following the castle s conversion to a munitions depot in 1870, likely by 1874. It lies on the southern shore of the Firth of Forth, just west of Blackness Castle itself.

This is a two-storey, ten-bay Scots baronial symmetrical building of coursed and squared sandstone with ashlar margins. At the centre is a pair of crowstepped, gabled two-bay sections which are flanked by square castellated single bays, with parapets and entrance doors. There is a single storey recessed lodge to the right, and a small outbuilding of contemporary date at the rear northwest corner of the quarters.

The main building has arched doorways with single pane fanlights. There are four and twelve pane timber-framed sash and case windows. The roof is slated, and there are corbelled parapets, and stepped chimney stacks with round cans on both the gable ends and on the roof ridges. The rainwater goods are of cast iron, and the guttering is decorated with small lion heads.

The interior, seen in 2017, is divided into two sections of accommodation. These are symmetrical on plan, and generally plain without distinguishing architectural detailing. Timber staircases, panelled timber window surrounds, and some fireplace surrounds survive. Some alterations to the interior may have been carried out during the 20th century.

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing: scheduled monument SM90036.

Statement of Special Interest:

Dating to the period of army reforms undertaken by Lord Cardwell, the officers quarters at Blackness Castle, along with the adjacent barracks block, are a rare surviving example of small scale military accommodation buildings. Built to support the operations of Blackness Castle itself during its use as the main munitions storage depot for Scotland, the small complex of buildings and supporting facilities survive in their original layout, allowing their relationship and the function of the complex to be easily understood. The exterior of the officers quarters appears little altered, and provides important evidence of military organisation and life in the late 19th and early 20th century.

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing: scheduled monument SM90036.

Age and Rarity

This building was an officers quarters built between 1870 and1874 following the conversion of Blackness Castle to a munitions depot for Scotland. The building appears on the 2nd Edition Ordnance Survey mapping of the area, published in 1896.

The castle was used as a munitions depot between 1870 and 1919. To fulfil this function the castle buildings were altered and roofed to provide a munitions storage space. An iron pier was constructed to the north of the castle, and used for loading and transporting explosives and weaponry. In addition, new buildings such as the officers quarters and barrack block were created to provide accommodation and facilities for the men deployed to the depot.

During the last quarter of the 19th century, the expanding British Empire required more personnel for its administration and its security. To help with the recruitment and training of soldiers, the Secretary of State for War, Edward Cardwell, introduced the Military Localisation Bill in 1872, which created new recruiting and training centres around Britain. The officers quarters at Blackness were built during the period of the Cardwell Reforms , resulting in improvements to military accommodation including upgrading of existing facilities and construction of purpose-built barracks.

The quarters at Blackness are a rare example of a relatively small 19th century military facility built on the site of a medieval high status building which continued in military use into the 20th century. Other larger examples include Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle and Dumbarton Castle. The size of the quarters reflects the small garrison deployed at the munitions depot.

Architectural or Historic Interest


The interior layout of the building appears to roughly confirm with its original design, comprising symmetrical accommodation on two floors. While some features survive, these are not considered to be unusual. Moreover, alterations to the interior have been carried out since it was in use as officers quarters and this is likely to have removed many of the original fittings.

Plan form

The building is roughly symmetrical on plan. This is typical of barrack buildings of this period which were becoming more purpose built, as opposed to earlier military accommodation at Blackness Castle, and Edinburgh and Stirling, which were integrated within existing structures.

Technological excellence or innovation, material or design quality

The design of military buildings in the late 19th century often included architectural elements connected to their military function or their location. In Scotland, this often involved incorporating elements of Scots Baronial style into the design. This can be seen on the officers quarters in the form of crowstepped gables, corbelled parapets and the imitation towers. These details do not appear on the adjacent barrack building at Blackness (LB52456).


The officers quarters are situated immediately to the southwest of Blackness Castle, occupying the same narrow headland. This is a strong defensive location, overlooking the seaways of the Firth of Forth. Also to the northeast is the iron pier used for loading munitions. In front of the building is the contemporary former parade ground, while the rear looks northwest over the Forth. The main barrack building is located to the south of the officer s quarters, also facing onto the parade ground.

The setting of the quarters has not changed substantially since it was laid out in the late 19th century.

Regional variations

There are no known regional variations.

Close Historical Associations

There are no known associations with a person or event of national importance at present (2017).


Canmore: http://canmore.org.uk/ CANMORE ID 49516


Ordnance Survey (surveyed 1895, published 1896) Linlithgowshire 002.09 (includes: Abercorn; Bo Ness and Carriden) - Ordnance Survey 25 inch 2nd and later editions, Scotland, 1892-1949. 2nd Edition. 25 inches to one mile. Southampton: Ordnance Survey. Available at: http://maps.nls.uk/view/82895112 [Accessed 13 Jul. 2017].

Printed Sources

Douet, J. (1998). British Barracks 1600 - 1914: Their Architecture and Role in Society. 1st Edition. Norwich: The Stationery Office.

MacIvor, I. and Tabraham, C. (2003). Blackness Castle. 2nd Edition. Edinburgh: Historic Scotland.

May, T. (2002). Military barracks. Princes Risborough: Shire

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