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- Category: A
- Date Added: 12/01/1971
- Local Authority: Fife
- Planning Authority: Fife
- Burgh: Dunfermline
National Grid Reference
- NGR: NT 8952 87412
- Coordinates: 308952, 687412
J C Walker, 1876-79. 2 and 3-storey and basement; L-plan; asymmetrical French-baronial town hall with dominant 6-stage clocktower at NE corner; elaborate principal (N and E) elevations with bartizans, ogee and crowstepped gableheads breaking eaves and Gothic detailing. Lightly stugged sandstone ashlar with polished ashlar dressings to principal (N and E) elevations; coursed stugged sandstone with polished ashlar dressings to rear. Base course; moulded band course over most of ground floor and moulded cill course to 1st floor to principal elevations; moulded eaves band; chamfered architraves to basement windows to principal elevations. Gableted crowsteps to crowstepped gables; pinnacles with decorative wrought-iron finials at apex and to outer crowsteps. Droved cills to rear windows.
E (KIRKGATE) ELEVATION: built into ground sloping upwards to N. Elevation divided into 2 approximately equal sections by central stair turret. 6 irregular bays to right have pair of band courses between 1st and 2nd floors and curvilinear tracery parapet at eaves level. Mainly 2-light mullioned and transomed windows with moulded surrounds to ground and 1st floors; hood-moulded and with carved central panel at head. 2-light transomed windows to outer left bay and small segmental-headed windows with moulded surrounds and projecting cills to 2nd bay from right. Crowstepped gableheads breaking eaves to 2 central bays and one with attic window with elaborate ogee hood-mould to 2 bays to left. Shared balcony to 2 central 1st floor windows and one (semi-oval in plan) to that to outer right; both with curvilinear tracery balustrades with 2 pairs of posts surmounted by urn-like finials with coronets and 2 pairs of brackets below with pendant bosses and polished granite supporting shafts with foliate capitals; shafts of left balcony supported on brackets carved as grotesque heads and dragons; those of that to right on 2 pairs of buttresses set at right angles to either side of main entrance. Slightly projecting round-arched main entrance with elaborately carved surround incorporating flanking nook shafts, foliate spandrels and sphinx in high relief with ram's head as keystone; 2-leaf panelled timber door. Slight projection continued upwards to 6-light mullioned and transomed balcony window with flanking elongated nook shafts, moulded cornice with projecting gargoyles to either side and crenellated parapet incorporating coat of arms at centre. 3-stage stair turret to centre of elevation; lower sections semi-circular in plan; upper one semi-octagonal; each stage corbelled out over moulded and carved band courses; high relief torso of man at base; gargoyle projecting from centre of central stage; small 2-light transomed window with stopped moulded surround to outer faces; projecting gargoyles at angles of eaves above; surmounted by crenellated parapet and conical copper-clad roof. 6 irregular bays to left. Mainly 4-light mullioned and transomed windows with moulded surrounds with elongated nook shafts to 2nd floor; 3 2-light transomed windows with moulded surrounds towards centre of 1st floor; flanking carved heraldic panels and outer 4-light hood-moulded mullioned and transomed windows with carved central panel at head. Mainly single light windows with stopped roll-moulded surrounds to ground floor; former central pair of entrances now entrance with window to right; 2-light mullioned window to left. Crocketed ogee-headed breaking eaves pediments incorporating cusped tracery to each of 4 main windows of 2nd floor; each with decorative wrought-iron finials and flanking posts with urn-like finials with coronets supported on brackets carved as grotesque heads. Caernarvon-arched entrance with flanking nook shafts to outer left; panelled timber door with boarded panels; carved heraldic panel above; 2-light mullioned window with Caernarvon-arched heads above; architraved window to 2nd floor. Octagonal turret above at SE corner; Caernarvon-arched windows with moulded surruounds to outer faces; small corbelled semicircular-plan balcony with curvilinear tracery balustrade over chamfered stepped upper section of wall at SE corner; flanking posts with urn-like finials with coronets and grotesque heads as brackets below. Similar short flanking balustrades to turret; projecting gargoyles to each angle at eaves level; parapet and copper-clad conical roof with decorative wrought-iron finial.
N (BRIDGE STREET) ELEVATION: 5 irregular bays; curvilinear tracery parapet with termination posts with urn-like finials at eaves level; brackets carved as heads of kings and queens of Scotland below. Hood-moulded entrance with moulded surround and elongated nook shafts to right of centre; cable-moulded lintel rounded at edges; low flanking buttresses; 2-light fanlight with adjoining carved panel at centre above; panelled timber door. 2 pairs of flanking windows with moulded and stopped surrounds; 2-light transomed windows, apart from that to outer right, which is 4-light mullioned and transomed. 2 small windows with Caernarvon-arched heads and moulded and stopped surrounds to outer left. 4-light mullioned and transomed 1st floor window to each of 3 central bays; moulded surrounds incorporating flanking and central elongated nook shafts with foliate capitals; crow-stepped gablehead with heraldic panel to central window. Oriel window stepped out over corbelled base with moulded and carved band courses to outer left of 1st floor; carved torso of medieval soldier (thought to be Robert the Bruce) at base; flanking projecting dragons above; 8-light mullioned and transomed window with moulded surround with elongated nook shafts with foliate capitals to vertical members; carved cornice with gargoyles projecting at angles; stone roof stepped back in 2 stages; crocketed upper stage with crocketed engaged finial. Octagonal-plan bartizan corbelled out over moulded band courses wraps around outer right corner; squat engaged column carved with spiral design to either side of base; each with foliate capitals and ornately carved supporting brackets; 2-light transomed windows with moulded surrounds and elongated nook shafts to 3 outer faces; carved corbelled eaves band below crocketed gableted parapet; small pinnacle with wrought-iron finial at apex of each gablet; projecting gargoyles in between; carved 3-sided panels to each face of parapet.
TOWER: square-plan with circular-plan bartizan at each corner. Crocketed and finialled ogee-arched panel to lower stage of tower to N and E sides; circular inner panel of cusped tracery; cusped arcading below; flanking engaged shafts with gableted bases supported on grotesque heads; foliate capitals surmounted by gargoyles. Bartizans corbelled out in 3 stages over moulded and carved band courses; gargoyles project from 2 outer cardinal points to each of upper stages; small window with stopped roll-moulded surround and carved projecting cill above each; plain cornice surmounted by open cable-moulded eaves band; conical copper-clad roof with spiked ball finial surmounted by wrought-iron weathervane. 3 louvred openings in between bartizans, except for W side, which has 2; variously treated with roll-moulded surrounds/flanking nook shafts and carvings (carved head to W); bracketed machicolation-like mouldings above; surmounted by carved or moulded band courses and parapet-like cornice. Dormer window with crocketed shouldered gable with fleur- de-lys finial to all except W side, which has wallhead stack; traceried window with moulded surround and projecting cill (small balcony supported on lions' head brackets to N and E sides); flanking projecting gargoyles. Copper clad pavilion roof rises to gable-headed clock-face on each side; moulded band course below; flanking pairs of vertical shafts; small pinnacle with wrought iron finial to each gable. Copper-clad pyramidal spire above; decorative wrought iron finial surmounted by weathervane.
W ELEVATION: stepped back in 3 sections. Gable end, built into sloping ground projects to left. Moulded band course beneath upper floor. Moulded semi-octagonal bartizans project from upper level to either side (see N elevation for that to left); that to right is corbelled out with moulded band courses; moulded cill band; 2-light transomed windows to 3 outer faces; cornice and moulded eaves band above; conical copper clad roof. Entrance with droved chamfered surround to left; plain timber door with rectangular fanlight. Irregular one and a half-bay elevation to right return. Irregular 4-bay elevation set back to right; angle quoins to right. Architraved windows with cornices to 2 central 1st floor windows; 6-light mullioned and transomed window to outer left of 2nd floor. 4-bay section set back to right; angle quoins to right. Architraved windows with cornices to 1st, 3rd and 4th bays of 1st floor; 4-light mullioned and transomed window to 2nd floor to each bay. Small windows with cast iron bars to basement and ground floor. Slightly later one and a half-storey lean-to to outer right.
S ELEVATION: built into sloping ground with single pitch crow-stepped roofline stepped back once to left. Octagonal turret to outer right (see E elevation). Wall chamfered and stepped out twice below turret to outer right (see E elevation). Moulded band course across cill of window to right of upper level. Slightly later 1 and a half-storey lean-to adjoins to left.
Mainly 2 and 4-pane timber sash and case windows. Grey slate roof. Ashlar stacks with moulded base courses, flanking octagonal flues and bracketed cornices to W gable end, W side of tower and 3 ridge stacks; round cans where visible. Cast-iron rainwater goods to principal elevations; PVCu to rear; 2 original downpipes with barleysugar twists and decorative hoppers cast as dragons to E elevation.
INTERIOR: retains majority of its most significant fittings and room suites. Entrance hall with inlaid polished granite floor and ornately carved timber fireplace; open-well staircase with elaborate wrought-iron balustrade with timber handrail and newel posts of Gothic design opens off to one side. Hammerbeam roof with pendant bosses and carved brackets to 1st floor Council Chamber; panelled timber dado and ornately carved timber fireplace; timber wall clock with circular casing mounted on brackets; early pendant copper light fittings suspended from ceiling. Parallel roof bracing to Court Room with turned and chamfered struts, decorative spiked pendant bosses and carved heads (representing 'the passions')to supporting corbels; later panelling to dado. Elaborate timber fireplace surround to 1st floor landing. Panelled timber doors throughout. Cast-iron clock mechanism (probably earlier 20th century) and large cast-iron bell (stamped 'John Wilson and Co, Founders') with intact striking mechanism in tower.
Statement of Special Interest
A well-preserved, richly embellished eclectic High Victorian town hall. It incorporates some very finely carved stone detailing and sculpture and retains its original decorative schemes with elaborately carved ceilings to its principal interior suites. The rough chiselled edges of some of the sculpture suggest that it may not have been quite finished (a more polished finish would be expected). James Campbell Walker, a former pupil of William Burn, carried out a number of commissions for public buildings, including Hawick Town Hall and the Central Library in Dunfermline.
John Gifford, FIFE, in the 'Buildings of Scotland' series (1988) p188; Bert McEwan, DUNFERMLINE - OUR HERITAGE (1998) pp50-51.
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