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

Dundee Sheriff Court including former screen wall and pavilion block to east and boundary wall, and excluding 1979 Justice Of The Peace Court and 1993-96 additions and alterations, 6 West Bell Street, DundeeLB25631

Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NO 39837 30441
339837, 730441


George Angus, 1833, eastern pavilion (former Governor's House) and screen wall. William Scott, 1863, principal court house following 1833 design by George Angus. Additions and internal alterations, including district court infill by Gauldie, Wright and Partners (1979) and by Nicoll Russell Studios (1993-96), not considered of special interest in listing terms at time of review.

2-storey, 9-bay, classical court building (1863) with prominent Roman Doric portico with royal arms sculpture at tympanum, located on high ground on West Bell Street at the head of Court House Square, Dundee. Polished sandstone ashlar. Steps flanking portico. 2-leaf panelled and studded door with consoled and pedimented moulded door piece. Moulded cill course and string course. Bays and angles delineated by Giant Order Doric pilasters. Moulded round-headed windows to first floor. Corniced entablature with blocking course. 2-bay, single storey outer wings. 2-storey Courtroom wing to rear with round-headed windows and louvered ventilator-cupola.

Earlier 2-storey, 3-bay, rectangular-plan classical pavilion (1833) to east. Grey ashlar, linked to main block by 3-bay screen wall. Impost course at first floor of pavilion. Concealed piended grey slate roof. Continued as 5-bay curtain wall with round-headed glazed opening (formerly a pend leading to former prison blocks to the rear) flanked by two decorative bracketed lamps.

The interior was seen in 2014. Courtroom 1 has a fine compartmented ceiling with ornate plasterwork. Gallery to south supported on narrow fluted cast-iron columns. Grained woodwork and timber panelling. Consoled canopy over judicial bench to the north. Marble chimneypiece in sheriff principal chambers. Moulded architraves, some decorative ceiling plasterwork and cast iron panel balusters.

Statement of Special Interest

Dundee Sheriff Court is a significant example of our legal civic architecture which forms a conspicuous and prominent focal point on Bell Street, terminating the vista of Court Square. Designed in 1833 but not built until 1863 (shortly after the 1860 Sheriff Court Houses (Scotland) Act), its neoclassical style, with an imposing pedimented portico and Giant Roman Order Doric columns, reflects the early 19th century preference for classical architecture in court house design.The interior of Courtroom 1 is finely detailed, taking the form of a large and symmetrically proportioned double-height Palladian cube with an elaborately detailed coffered plasterwork ceiling.

Plans for the Dundee Sheriff Court were first drawn by Edinburgh-based architect George Angus in 1833. Only the east pavilion on West Bell Street was built in 1835-7 at the same time as the new jail or bridewell was built at the rear of West Bell Street. The court house was postponed due to cost. The scheme was eventually completed in 1863 by Dundee's Town Architect, William Scott, creating the two-storey principal court house with imposing tetrastyle Roman Doric portico, reworked from George Angus's original plans. It is shown on the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey Map of 1885 (surveyed 1872) with the west pavilion and screen wall in place, and a large radial plan prison block to the rear (demolished in the mid-20th century). The western pavilion and linking screen wall to the west were demolished in 1974, resulting in a loss of symmetry for the court buildings.

An additional courtroom was added behind the facade of the eastern linking wall in 1979-81. Local architects Nicoll Russell Studios refurbished and extended the court buildings between 1993 and 1996 at a cost of £3.7 million. The building was officially reopened by The Princess Royal in 1997.

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 late 20th century a

Category changed from A to B, statutory address revised and listed building record updated as part of the Scottish Courts Listing Review 2014-15. Previously listed as '6 West Bell Street, Sheriff Court Buildings, Including Boundary Walls And Railings'.



Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland: CANMORE ID: 184396.

Groome, F.H. (1896) Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland. p.416.

Ordnance Survey (surveyed 1872, published 1885) Forfar, 25 miles to the inch. 1st Edition. London: Ordnance Survey.

Ordnance Survey. (surveyed 1900, published 1901) Forfar, 25 miles to the inch. 2nd Edition. London: Ordnance Survey.

McKean C. and Walker D. (1993) Dundee – An Illustrated Architectural Guide. Pillans & Wilson: Edinburgh. p.55.

Gifford J. (2012) The Buildings Of Scotland: Dundee And Angus. London: Yale University Press. pp.115-116.

Historic Scotland (2014) Scottish Courts Preliminary Report at

The National Archives of Scotland. Guide to Sheriff Court Records at [accessed 02 September 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.

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Dundee Sheriff Court, East Pavilion and Linking Screen Wall, looking northwest, during daytime on an overcast day.
Dundee Sheriff Court, principal elevation, looking northwest, during daytime on an overcast day.

Printed: 21/05/2024 15:16