Listed Building

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Lochmaddy Sheriff Court, Lochmaddy, North UistLB17575

Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Local Authority
Na h-Eileanan Siar
Planning Authority
Na h-Eileanan Siar
North Uist
NF 91774 68901
91774, 868901


James Matthews & William Lawrie, Architects, 1875 and addition by Alexander Ross & Robert John McBeth Architects, 1892. 2-storey, L-plan court house in Italianate Gothic style on a corner site in a rural settlement and sited on ground falling away to the rear. Principal 2-storey, 3-bay symmetrical block with lower 2-storey 3-bay section forming second entrance to east and small single storey bay beyond. Later (1892) single storey range to west gable. Rendered with ashlar quoins and window dressings. Pointed openings, some with hoodmoulds. Continuous string between floors with angled wide chamfered quoins below and corbelled out at first floor. Shallow stone entrance porch with angled top and brattishing to north entrance with 3 dormer windows breaking eaves and finalled to courtroom at first floor. Tripartite windows to gables. Shouldered and crenulated stone doorpiece to east entrance with single plain dormer over. Small gable belfry detail to south gable.

Boarded 2-leaf entrance doors. Non-original glazing pattern in timber sash and case windows with fixed panes to arch points. Replacement slates to roof with projecting eaves and rendered end stacks.

The interior, seen in 2014, has a good gothic styled decorative scheme with good quality carved timber detailing throughout. Ground floor corridor with dado panelling and 4-panel timber doors with pen lights leading to offices with unpainted timber fire surrounds. Turned stair with decorative cast iron ballusters leading to a symmetrical open first floor upper hall with dado panelling and 2-centred arches, some on banded and clustered wooden columns. Rare survival of a near complete interior decorative scheme to the courtroom thought to be contemporary with the construction of the building. Long judges bench with arcaded, cusped-panelled front, dock and pew style public seating. Combed ceiling with delicate timber ventilator panels. The single storey cell wing to northwest has reinforced and modified four panel doors to cells.

Statement of Special Interest

Lochmaddy Sheriff Court dates to 1875 and is a significant example of civic architecture in a remote rural setting. The court was built in high quality materials for the area and makes a strong contribution to the streetscape particularly when grouped with the former prison which is sited immediately adjacent to it. Internally the building retains its late 19th century gothic styled decorative scheme to the principal public area and timber detailing, which is of notable quality for a small rural court house.

Lochmaddy Sheriff Court was built by the Inverness architects

The architectural partnership of James Matthews and William Lawrie ran from 1864 until 1887, with offices in Aberdeen and Inverness. Matthews and Lawrie were commissioned to design a number of court houses in the Highland region, such as those at Kingussie (1864), Portree (1865-77) and Fort William (1876) (see separate listings).

The building was originally built of exposed rubble stonework but has since been rendered (post 1988) leaving only the stone margins exposed. The paired stone entrance porches add considerable interest to its design along with the more standard Scots Baronial detailing of pitched dormers with finials.

The development of the court house as a building type in Scotland follows the history of the Scottish legal system and wider government reforms. The majority of purpose-built court houses were constructed in the 19th century as by this time there was an increase in the separation of civic, administrative and penal functions into separate civic and institutional buildings, and the resultant surge of public building was promoted by new institutional bodies. The introduction of the Sheriff Court Houses (Scotland) Act of 1860 gave a major impetus to the increase and improvement of court accommodation and the provision of central funding was followed by the most active period of sheriff court house construction in the history of the Scottish legal system, and many new court houses were built or reworked after this date.

Court houses constructed after 1860 generally had a solely legal purpose and did not incorporate a prison, other than temporary holding cells. Exceptions to this were the more remote island locations including Kirkwall; Lochmaddy, North Uist; Stornoway in the Western Isles and Tobermory, Mull (see separate listings).The courts were designed in a variety of architectural styles but often relied heavily on Scots Baronial features to reference the fortified Scottish building tradition. Newly constructed court buildings in the second half of the 19th century dispensed with large public spaces such as county halls and instead provided bespoke office accommodation for the sheriff, judge and clerks, and accommodated the numerous types of court and holding cells.

Statutory address and listed building record revised and category changed from B to C as part of the Scottish Courts Listing Review 2014-15. Previously listed as 'Lochmaddy Courthouse'.



Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland: CANMORE ID 171555.

Ordnance Survey (surveyed 1877, published 1882) Inverness Hebrides, Sheet XXXV.8. 25 inches to the mile. 1st Edition. London: Ordnance Survey.

Groome, A. F. (1884) Ordnance Gazetteer Of Scotland. p.542.

Gifford, J. (1992) The Buildings of Scotland: Highlands and Islands. London: Butler and Tanner. p.619.

Miers, M. (2008) The Western Seaboard: An Architectural Guide. Edinburgh: The Rut Press. p.322

Historic Scotland (2014) Scottish Courts Preliminary Report at

Dictionary of Scottish Architects: Lochmaddy Court at [accessed 30 October 2014].

About Listed Buildings

Listing is the way that a building or structure of special architectural or historic interest is recognised by law through the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The only legal part of the listing is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing and if a number or name is missing from a listing address it may still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing can also cover structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The planning authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. Since 1 October 2015 we have been able to exclude items from a listing. If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.

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Lochmaddy Sheriff Court, principal and northeast elevations, looking west, during daytime on an overcast day.
Interior of main courtroom, Lochmaddy Sheriff Court.

Printed: 19/04/2019 11:48