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

Paisley Sheriff Court and Justice of the Peace Court, excluding 3-storey extension to north, St James Street, PaisleyLB39103

Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NS 48162 64379
248162, 664379


William Clarke and George Bell, 1885 with addition by George Bell, 1890 and extended to Love Street after 1891 by Thomas Graham Abercrombie. Imposing classical U-plan court house consisting of 1885 2-storey, 7-bay, L-plan symmetrical building to left with linking bay to 1890 2-storey, 7-bay asymmetrical, L-plan former County building with prominent Ionic pedimented portico to right. The 3-storey extension to the north is not considered to be special in listing terms at time of review. Situated on prominent corner site with 3-storey, 11-bay return elevation Love Street. Ashlar, channelled at ground. Base course, cill courses, cornice and parapet with urns to left.

1885 building to left has advanced end bays with linking balustraded Doric colonnade with steps leading to advanced central porch with mutuled frieze. Central key-stoned round-arched doorway. Windows within the colonnade have architraves rising from the floor and recessed panelled aprons and there are lugged architraves, carved friezes and consoled cornices to the centre windows above. Windows to the end bays are tripartite with square colonettes between. The upper storey windows have decorated friezes, consoled cornices and flanking paired Ionic pilasters. Single archway to far left.

The 1890 building to the right has a prominent advanced 3-bay portico to off-centre right with Ionic columns rising from first floor to pediment with sculpted frieze behind by F W Pomeroy depicting Greek mythological figures. Advanced Doric-columned porch to left. Architraves to first storey windows.

Predominantly plate-glass in timber sash and case windows. Grey slates.

The interior was seen in 2014. The long rectangular entrance hall contains Doric columns supporting a surrounding balcony with decorative metal railings. The court house was refurbished in 1998 and the main staircase and part of this entrance hall balcony dates from this period. Courtroom 1 to the rear is the original 1885 court and has clerestorey windows and an imposing pedimented timber bench with elaborately carved consoles to sounding board. The courtroom retains its late 19th century raked public timber pew seating and some former timber jury pews. There is a coffered ceiling and cornice. Steps lead directly to the cells from the dock. Courtroom 8 is the former council chambers and there is extensive, elaborate oak panelling to the walls and semi-barrel-vaulted ceiling with paired pedestalled Ionic columns at either end, flanking a stone fire place and the former entrance door. Sculpted figurative panels around room, depicting mythological figures working in local trades. Other rooms and halls with decorative cornicing, panelled timber doors, and carved fire surrounds. Open-well staircase with carved timber banister.

There is a low boundary wall with iron railings to the south elevation with a pair of octagonal gatepiers at the entrance.

Statement of Special Interest

Paisley Sheriff Court is the combination of an 1885 sheriff court by William Clarke and George Bell and an 1890 county buildings by George Bell, which was extended after 1891 by the Paisley architect Thomas Graham Abercrombie. It was one of the last 19th century large courts to be built in the grand classical style, with a highly distinctive and prominent portico and fine decorative detailing. It is an important and striking building in this busy area of Paisley. Internally, the court house has a wealth of decorative detailing, particularly the exceptional oak- lined courtroom 8.

Paisley Sheriff Court was built at a cost of £23,000. The court was previously accommodated in the former county buildings, which was situated on the east side County Square in the centre of Paisley. There was a prison to the rear of this building, which was demolished in 1968.

The County Buildings, built to the immediate east of the court house in 1890 and extended after 1891, was taken over by the Scottish Court Service in the 1970s and considerable substantial refurbishment work was carried out in 1998, when a new stair was built and the reception hall opened out to link the two buildings. The former county hall is now courtroom 8.

The practice of William Clarke and George Bell ran between 1841 and 1903 and was based in Glasgow. The two architects met while working for William Burn and had early success in the competition design for the City and County Buildings and second Merchants' House in Glasgow (1841-5). The practice was a prolific and highly regarded one. Their work spanned many types of premises, from large public buildings and schools to private houses.

Frederick William Pomeroy (1856-1924) was born in London and was an early sculptor member of the Arts and Crafts movement. A member of the Royal Academy, his work can be seen throughout Britain, with perhaps his most famous being the statue of Justice on the Old Bailey in London.

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. 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.

The early 1990s 3-storey extension to the north is not considered to be of special in listing terms at the time of review (2014-15)

Statutory address and listed building record revised as part of the Scottish Courts Listing Review 2014-15. Previously listed as 2 separate listings: 'St James Street Sheriff Court House' and 'St James Street, Procurator Fiscal's Office'.



Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. CANMORE ID 198596.

Ordnance Survey (Surveyed, 1896, Published 1896) Renfrewshire, Sheet 012.02. 25 Inches to the Mile. 2nd Edition. London: Ordnance Survey.

The Scottish Civic Trust (1983) Historic Buildings at Work. Glasgow: The Scottish Civic Trust p.200-201.

Walker, F. A. (1986) The South Clyde Estuary. Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press p.19.

Dictionary of Scottish Architects. Clarke & Bell at [accessed 27 October 2014].

Historic Scotland (2014) Scottish Courts Preliminary Report at

Further information courtesy of Scottish Court Service staff (2014 and 2015).

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.

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Text: Paisley Sheriff Court and Justice of the Peace Court, interior of courtroom 1.
Paisley Sheriff Court and Justice of the Peace Court, principal elevation, looking north, during daytime on cloudy day, with traffic lights and road signs in front of the building.

Printed: 09/08/2022 09:22