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Delnies Ice House and Bothy, The Nairn Golf Club, Nairn

A Category B Listed Building in Nairn, Highland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.5846 / 57°35'4"N

Longitude: -3.9281 / 3°55'41"W

OS Eastings: 284821

OS Northings: 856590

OS Grid: NH848565

Mapcode National: GBR J8NP.5DK

Mapcode Global: WH4G1.MMPF

Entry Name: Delnies Ice House and Bothy, The Nairn Golf Club, Nairn

Listing Date: 18 February 2020

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 407324

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB52544

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Nairn

County: Highland

Parish: Nairn

Traditional County: Nairnshire

Description

Delnies Ice House and Bothy are the only known buildings to survive from the Easter Delnies Fishing Station. These two buildings are located on the course of The Nairn Golf Club between the 9th green and the 10th tee close to the south coast of the Moray Firth.

Dated 1877, the ice house was built as a cold store for a fishing station. The arched ice house, built into the shore, is constructed of stone and the lower portion of the walls are harled. The ice house has a barrel-vaulted roof that is topped with turf. It has an internal storage chamber and a smaller entrance chamber with a large, weighted timber door separating the two. There is a small opening in the rear wall where ice was loaded into the building. In the north wall is the entrance with a replacement door. Above the entrance is a stone plaque which is engraved with the date 1877 and the initials J A .

Built after 1904, the bothy is an early 20th century, detached single-storey and attic, three-bay, rectangular-plan former salmon bothy. The building is constructed in rubble that has been painted. The bothy has one room with timber floorboards and a fireplace on the east wall. The window openings have replacement uPVC sash and case glazing and replacement exterior timber shutters. The roof is slated with straight skews and there is a chimneystack on the east gable. A plaque, dating from 2011 and commemorating the ice house and bothy, hangs on its east gable.

Historical development

The ice house, dated 1877, is first shown on the 2nd Edition Ordnance Survey map (revised 1904, published 1905) as the ice house for Easter Delnies Fishing Station, which is shown further north by the shoreline. The bothy is not depicted on the 2nd Edition Ordnance Survey map, indicating it was built after 1904. Its traditional design and construction materials suggests it was likely to have been built in the early-20th century, perhaps to replace an earlier fishing station building at the shore. It is not known when Easter Delnies Fishing Station closed but the buildings close to the shore were gone by the early 1970s (as they are not shown on the 1973 Ordnance Survey map).

Nairn has a long history of fishing, particularly salmon, herring and white fish. Fishing was an important part of the economic development of the town and its surrounding area from the 18th century. Salmon fishing from coble boats was organised on a commercial scale along the Moray coast from around 1768 when a fishing station was built at the mouth of the River Spey at Tugnet. The land at Easter Delnies was owned by the local landowner, the Earl of Cawdor, and the fishing station was later managed by James Adamson of Nairn, until the Moray Firth Salmon Fishing Company was formed in 1920 (Dundee Courier).

By the late-19th century, there were five salmon fishing stations operating between the Old Bar (to the east of Nairn) and Fort George to the west (as shown on the 2nd Edition Ordnance Survey map). These fishing stations usually had their own ice houses and bothies because they were geographically remote, and they needed to store the catch and provide some shelter for the fishermen. Of these five stations, Delnies Ice House and Bothy are the only buildings known to survive largely unaltered that relate to the historic Moray Coast salmon fishing network.

A photograph from the early-20th century shows golfers on the 9th green with coble boats and salmon nets visible on the foreshore (The Nairn Golf Club). By the early 1980s, salmon stocks were dwindling, and the Moray Firth Salmon Fishing Company stopped trading. The Nairn Golf Club bought the ice house and bothy from the Cawdor Estate in 1987. In the 2010s, the Bothy was renovated and has been in use as a halfway house and refreshment point for golfers. Delnies ice house is currently used as a store.

Statement of Interest

Delnies Ice House and Bothy meet the criteria of special architectural or historic interest for the following reasons:

Architectural interest:

Design

Delnies Ice House is a distinctive building in the landscape. Its utilitarian and functional design whilst standard for this building type is largely unaltered. Features such as its barrel-vaulted roof, hatch in the rear wall and interior layout continues to show what the building was used for.

Ice houses for the salmon trade were typically stone-built with barrel-vaulted roofs and with one ice chamber within. They were covered with either turf or thatch and concealed within a natural slope. In the winter they were filled with ice collected from nearby rivers to keep fish fresh before being shipped to domestic and overseas markets. This solid construction is designed to withstand harsh weather as well as keeping the store's contents cool for long periods of time. There is minimal external architectural detailing, but that is to be expected for a rural, commercial fishing station store and further indicates its functional use.

The interior of the ice house, seen in 2019, is little altered and the survival of its large and weighted inner door with its vertical hatch opening is particularly interesting, as it clearly shows the function of the building and how the entrance was separated from the cold storage.

The design and plan form of Delnies Bothy is standard for this building type. Its single interior room with fireplace at one end would have been used by fishermen during the fishing season and provided a place for shelter and recuperation for crews made up of four or five men. Internal features, such as the low ceilinged room with attic space above, fireplace and painted internal walls indicate its previous use as a shelter for fishing crews. Whilst the design of this bothy is not exceptional it is of interest because it is part of a pair of buildings associated with the fishing industry.

Setting

The historic and functional relationship of Delnies ice house and bothy can still be seen by the close proximity of the buildings to each other and the shore. The position of the ice house close to the shore shows how catches needed to be stored close by and remain easily accessible for being transported. The orientation of the ice house and bothy, with the bothy entrance facing the ice house, shows the need for security and ease of access by the fishermen, as well as providing shelter from the worst weather.

The immediate setting of the ice house and bothy was minimally altered in 1987 when the golf course expanded and took these buildings within its boundaries. No buildings have been built close by and the ice house and bothy remain in a rural, shore-side location. Although not prominent buildings as they are only visible when viewed from the golf course and from the Moray Firth, they are distinctive buildings in the landscape.

The wider coastal setting has been altered by the loss of other buildings relating to the network of fishing stations westwards from Nairn to Fort George, and further afield along the upper and lower shorelines of the Moray Coast. Delnies ice house and bothy are the only known remaining pair of buildings associated with the historic fishing industry of Nairn.

Historic interest:

Age and rarity

The majority of Scotland's ice houses were built between 1750 and 1875. Most salmon fishing stations were built with their own ice houses to keep fish fresh, particularly those in isolated positions along the coast. The use of ice to preserve fish helped to meet the increased demand for fresh fish for overseas and domestic markets.

The survival of Delnies ice house and bothy close to the shoreline of the Moray Firth is of interest because most of the salmon fishing stations along this stretch of coast no longer survive. The largest commercial ice house in Scotland is nearby at the former Tugnet fishing station at Spey Bay (listed at category A, LB1604). There are a handful of listed commercial ice houses along this stretch of Scotland's coastline, including those at Findhorn (listed at category B, LB8668) and Hopeman (listed at category B, LB2311). Delnies ice house and bothy are the only buildings relating to fishing stations known to survive between Fort George and the Old Bar, east of Nairn.

Delnies ice house and bothy are the only remains of the Easter Delnies Fishing Station, as well as significant reminders of the history and economy of the wider area. They show that salmon fishing continued into the early years of the 20th century.

Social historical interest

Commercial ice houses and bothies are important buildings related to Scotland's fishing industry. These buildings were once common along many stretches of coast. Delnies ice house and bothy was part of a network of commercial salmon fishing stations along the Moray coast and are representative of Scotland's 19th century fishing economy. The ice house and bothy are a largely unaltered group of buildings of the former Easter Delnies Fishing Station and are rare survivals of the once bustling industry along the Moray coast between Fort George and the Old Bar, to the east of Nairn.

Association with people or events of national importance

There is no association with a person or event of national importance.

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