Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing under the Planning (Listing Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see 'About Listed Buildings' below for more information. The further details below the 'Address/Name of Site' are provided for information purposes only.

Address/Name of Site

Dumbarton Sheriff Court and Justice of the Peace Court, including boundary wall and gatepiers and excluding 2-storey extension to east, Church Street, DumbartonLB24875

Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Local Authority
West Dunbartonshire
Planning Authority
West Dunbartonshire
NS 39809 75348
239809, 675348


James Gillespie Graham with some modification by Robert Scott, 1824; William Spence wings added 1861, and extensions to north and south by Duncan McNaughton in 1895 and 1898. 2-storey, 9-bay, symmetrical, U-plan classical sheriff court house with 1824 taller and advanced central, 3-bay section with a further advanced central pedimented bay. The 2-storey extension to the east is not considered of special interest in listing terms at the time of review (2014-15).

Sandstone ashlar, channelled at ground. Base course, band course, cill courses and cornice and with a blocking course to central bays and balustrades to outer wings. Central pedimented Doric-columned porch with round-arched doorway and paired Ionic pilasters at first floor. Central first floor window recessed in round-headed panel flanked by windows with aprons and consoled cornices. The outer bays have pilastered and corniced door surrounds with round-arched doorways.

Predominantly 4-pane glazing in timber sash and case windows. Piended grey-slated roofs.

The interior was seen in 2014. The court house was refurbished circa 1998 and whilst some of the court furnishings and layout of the office spaces were altered at this time, a number of early and mid 19th century features remain. The 1824 courtroom (Court No 1) and the 1898 courtroom (Court No 2) are situated on the first floor. Courtroom 1 has some panelled timber doors with consoled cornices and an anthemion and palmette frieze. There is a small gallery with delicate cast-iron balustrade. Court No 2 is entered by a replacement door which is situated in a former Venetian window frame. The court has timber panelled doors with carved, lugged architraves, timber panelling and a timber panel behind the sheriff's bench. There is a timber framed ceiling with pendants. Some other rooms with decorative cornicing and timber panelled doors. Timber panelling to the stair well with dog-leg stair with timber balusters and decorative square-plan newels and pyramidal newel posts. Other spiral staircase with metal balusters.

Low, coped boundary wall and railings to west with pair of square-plan gatepiers.

Statement of Special Interest

Court houses are among the most significant buildings in our town centres and Dumbarton Sheriff Court is no exception. The building has some particularly fine classical detailing to its front elevation and it retains its prominent setting, set back from the road within its own ground. Internally, the 1824 court has exceptionally delicate metal work to the gallery. The various alterations and extensions to the building are in keeping with James Gillespie Graham's 1824 scheme which is clearly discernible as the central section of the front elevation.

Dumbarton Sheriff Court was built in 1824 to plans by James Gillespie Graham and the foundation stone was laid on 19 July 1824. The plans were adapted by Robert Scott, but at present the extent of his adaptation is not known. Gillespie Graham also designed a contemporary prison which lay to the east of the court house. The prison was demolished in 1973, although the doorway was retained (see separate listing). The original 1824 court house was 3 bays wide and is the central section of the current court house. The building was extended in 1862 with flanking 3-bay wings by William Spence. It was further extended in 1895 and 1898 when police offices were added to the north and a council chamber was added to the south, creating a U-plan building. The former council chamber is now courtroom 2. The court house replaced the Old Tolbooth in the Dumbarton.

James Gillespie Graham (1777-1855) was one of Scotland's most influential 19th century architects. He was based in Edinburgh and worked all over Scotland, specialising in castellated country houses and Gothic church designs. Although best known for his Gothic style work, he was also confident in the classical style, as can be seen here and his earlier county buildings and court houses commissions at Cupar and Inveraray (see separate listings).

William Spence (circa 1806-1883) was a Glasgow based architect.

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. The design of court houses in the early 19th century tended towards neoclassical or Renaissance styles to convey their status as important public buildings.

The circa 1998 2-storey extension to the east is not considered to be of special interest in listing terms at the time of the review (2014-15).

Statutory address and listed building record revised as part of the Scottish Courts Listing Review 2014-15. Previously listed as 'Church Street, Courthouse'.



Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland: CANMORE ID 121426.

Great Reform Act Plan of Dumbarton (1832) London: House of Commons.

Ordnance Survey (Surveyed 1859) Town Plan of Dumbarton Sheet XXII.6.II. Large Scale. 1st Edition. London: Ordnance Survey.

MacLeod, D. (1893) Dumbarton Ancient and Modern. Glasgow and Dumbarton: Macdonald & Co and Bennet & Thomson.

The Scottish Civic Trust (1983) Historic Buildings at Work. Glasgow: The Scottish Civic Trust p.172.

Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (1991) Tolbooths and Town-houses. Edinburgh: The Stationery Office p.71.

Colvin, H. (1995) A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840. 3rd Edition. New Haven and London: Yale University Press p.420-421.

Dean of Guild Drawings of rear additions in Dumbarton Library, Strathleven Place, Dumbarton.

Dictionary of Scottish Architects, Dumbarton County Buildings, Court and Prison at [accessed 09 October 2014].

Historic Scotland (2014) Scottish Courts Preliminary Report at

Further information courtesy of Scottish Courts Service (2014).

About Listed Buildings

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. 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 legal part of the listing is the address/name of site which is known as the statutory address. Other than the name or address of a listed building, further details are provided for information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland does not accept any liability for any loss or damage suffered as a consequence of inaccuracies in the information provided. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing. Even if a number or name is missing from a listing address it will still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing also applies to buildings or structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage (or land) of the listed building as long as they were erected before 1 July 1948.

While Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating listed buildings, the planning authority is responsible for determining what is covered by the listing, including what is listed through curtilage. However, for listed buildings designated or for listings amended from 1 October 2015, legal exclusions to the listing may apply.

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 1997 Act. 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 subsequent legislation.

Listed building consent is required for changes to a listed building which affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. The relevant planning authority is the point of contact for applications for listed building consent.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at


Text: Dumbarton Sheriff Court and Justice of the Peace Court, west and south elevations, looking northeast, during daytime on a clear day, with parked cars in front of the building.

Printed: 25/07/2024 10:31