William Robertson, 1822-23; John Fowlie, 1899-1900, additions to town hall (facing The Square), repaired after fire by George Legg between 1951-53. 2-storey, L-plan corner range comprising 3-bay bowed corner flanked by 5-bay ranges with advanced outer bays, facing Seafield Street (hotel) and The Square (town hall). Further 2-storey, 5-bay stable court frontage extending to east along Seafield Street. 1899-1900 4-bay addition to The Square elevation. 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 1822-23 (rebuilt and remodelled circa 1972) and late 19th century (remodelled circa 1972) 2-storey and attic, rectangular plan wings adjoining the rear (north) elevation of the hotel.
Harled with ashlar dressings and margins. Ashlar faced bowed pivotal corner angle with 3 segmental-headed entrances in ground floor approached by curved flight of steps and first floor windows set in round-headed shallow recesses. First floor windows in advanced bays are set in shallow round-headed ashlar recesses, all other first floor windows have bracketed cornices. Continuous band course between ground and first floor. Deep ashlar corniced eaves band and blocking course, stepped above advanced bays and supporting Seafield coat of arms at pivotal angle bay. Blocking course removed at Seafield Street frontage to accommodate 4 mid-20th century piended dormers. Wide segmental-headed centre entrance to hotel in Seafield Street; similar entrance in original 5-bay frontage facing The Square (but no longer in centre of elevation owing to additions). Former stable court fronts Seafield Street at east with centre tall basket-arched entrance flanked by tripartite windows in shallow recessed bays. Small first floor (former loft) windows, the centre 3 are oval. Single storey with dormered attic wing adjoining to north elevation of stable court range.
Predominantly 12-pane glazing pattern in timber frames. Pitched slate roof with projecting eaves, bowed at corner. Corrugated asbestos roof (1951-3) with shallow pitch to town hall. Coped ridge stacks.
Interiors (seen in 2014) largely date to circa 1951-3 in town hall and circa 1972 in hotel, some 19th century decorative detailing evident. First floor council chamber in bowed corner with 1822 curved panelled doors in reeded doorpieces and plaster ceiling rosette. Council chamber reached by 1951-3 imperial staircase with surviving Greek key-pattern dado and banding to top light, and niche with marble statue of Venus. All other rooms in town hall remodelled in 1951-3. The hotel has a 19th century dog-leg staircase with decorative cast iron balustrade and southeast facing lounge at first floor with beaded panelled window shutters and moulded door cases.
Statement of Special Interest
Cullen Town Hall and the Seafield Arms Hotel is a well-detailed example of an early 19th century civic building and a very unusual example of one designed with an integral coaching inn. The building is designed by the local architect, William Robertson and is classically proportioned with good architectural details, notably the bowed corner articulated in ashlar and surmounted by the carved coat of arms. Located on a prominent corner site on the central square in Cullen, this building has significant streetscape presence in the new town of Cullen. The decorative scheme and the interior plan form has been altered significantly, but retains some 19th century details, including the distinctive circular council chamber, which has its early 19th century decorative timber and plasterwork.
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 1822-23 (rebuilt and remodelled circa 1972) and late 19th century (remodelled circa 1972) 2-storey and attic, rectangular plan wings adjoining the rear (north) elevation of the hotel.
Cullen Town Hall and the Seafield Arms Hotel was built as part of significant early 19th improvements to the burgh, instigated by the Earl of Seafield. The Earl of Seafield owned much of the parish of Cullen and in 1811 commissioned George MacWilliam to design a plan for the New Town of Cullen. The New Town followed the typical 'planned town' layout popularised in the late 18th and early 19th century, with a regular grid pattern arranged around a central square. It was positioned on elevated ground overlooking Cullen Seatown and has a commanding view of the Moray Firth. Cullen New Town replaced an irregular old town, which was demolished to accommodate improvements at Cullen House, with only Cullen Old Church surviving as a remnant. The 17th century burgh cross (listed at B) was moved to Castle Hill around 1820 and later to its present location on the Square.
Cullen Town Hall and the Seafield Arms Hotel was designed as a set piece, with separate entrances for the town hall and hotel (or coaching inn). The town hall had a council-room, courtroom and assembly room. The inn included a post office and stables. It was funded by the Earl of Seafield at a cost £3,000. The New Statistical Account, written in 1842 describes it as 'the only modern building deserving of notice…and add much to the appearance of the town'.
On the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey map (published 1871) the footprint of the buildings comprise an L-plan range to the corner of Seafield Street and The Square (town hall and inn) with a range of outbuildings to the rear, and a stable range to the east arranged around a square courtyard and with pend access to Seafield Street.
At the end of the 19th century the town hall was considered too small, and after purchasing the adjoining plot to the north of the square and after considerable consultation, John Fowlie, architect to Seafield estates, designed the additional 4-bay extension. This extension is shown on the 2nd Edition Ordnance Survey Map (published 1904). This map also shows a rectangular plan addition to the rear of the hotel. This was extended to the outbuildings by the 3rd Edition Ordnance Survey Map (published 1938). After 1938 the rear wing of the former stable court was demolished.
Information from the owner indicates that the 1822 wing was largely demolished and rebuilt in concrete blockwork and the late 19th century wing was remodelled, circa 1972 to designs by Seafield Builders Ltd. The interior decorative scheme of the hotel may date from this time.
During the Second World War (and possibly earlier) the town hall was used as a cinema. During a performance in 1942 the projection box caught fire and the building was severely damaged. From information formerly held at Moray District Council Record Office it was rebuilt circa 1951-3. A 1952 account in The Builder attributes this work to George Legg and the remodelling cost £12,000. As part of this work the roof line was lowered and a square lantern (evident in a photograph held in the Cullen, Deskford and Portknockie Heritage Group's Collection) was removed. The interior decoration of the town hall largely dates to this remodelling.
William Robertson (1786-1841) was born in Lonmay, Aberdeenshire and established his own architectural practice in Elgin around 1823. His work was wide ranging including churches, public buildings and domestic architecture. Robertson worked for the Seafield Estate, Cullen and designed numerous buildings in Cullen, including Cullen Harbour (1834), most of the buildings around The Square around 1823, as well as villas around the same time.
Category changed from A to B, statutory address and listed building record revised in 2015. Previously listed as '15, 17, 19 Seafield Street and The Square, Seafield Arms Hotel and Town Hall'.
Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland: http://www.rcahms.gov.uk/canmore.html CANMORE ID 17959.
New Statistical Account (1842) Cullen, County of Banff. Vol. 13. pp.328, 354.
Ordnance Survey (surveyed 1866, published 1871) Banff Sheet III.5 (Cullen). 1st Edition. 25 inches to the mile. London: Ordnance Survey.
Ordnance Survey (surveyed 1902, published 1904) Banffshire 003.05 (includes: Cullen; Rathven). 2nd Edition. 25 inches to the mile. London: Ordnance Survey.
Ordnance Survey (surveyed 1938, published 1949) Banffshire Sheet III.NW (includes: Cullen; Fordyce). 3rd Edition. 6 inches to the mile. London: Ordnance Survey.
Cramond, W (1904) Annals of Cullen. p.92
Banffshire Advertiser (13 April 1899, p.6; 15 June 1899; 1 Nov 1900)
National Archives of Scotland. GD248/784/5/56 (Specifications 1823).
Further information regarding fire and repairs thereafter (1951-3) courtesy of Moray District Record Office.
The Builder (21 November 1952) p.768
Private Collection. Drawing number 472/4, Proposed alterations and additions to Seafield Arms Hotel (October 1972).
Beaton, E. (1984) William Robertson 1786-1841: Architect In Elgin. Inverness: Inverness Architectural Association. pp.7, 26.
McKean, C. (1987) The District of Moray: An Illustrated Architectural Guide. Edinburgh: Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland. pp.128-129.
Scottish Cinemas and Theatres Project. Cullen Cinema at http://www.scottishcinemas.org.uk/scotland/cullen.html (accessed 04/03/2015).
Dictionary of Scottish Architects. William Robertson at http://www.scottisharchitects.org.uk/architect_full.php?id=201792 (accessed 04/03/2015).
Further information courtesy of Cullen, Deskford and Portknockie Heritage Group (2014) and owner (2015).
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