Orkney Islands Council
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Kirkwall Townscape Heritage Initiative

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Work Starts on Two Major KTHI Projects in Kirkwall

The Storehouse

Work has started on two major projects in Kirkwall the ‘The Storehouse’ in Bridge Street Wynd and the ‘Old Library’ in Laing Street.
Wife and husband team Judith Glue and David Spence are creating a ‘Restaurant with Rooms’ in The Storehouse. This project will see the historic B Listed building, built in 1880 and originally used as a Herring Curing Store, transformed with a large restaurant on the ground floor with eight bedrooms on the two floors above.

As the building was vacant and given its size and history it was designated a ‘Priority’ building by the KTHI, which allowed funding to be allocated toward finding a new use for it.

Under normal circumstances, due to the buildings listed status and the extra construction costs associated with re-using old buildings, it was highly unlikely that a viable business use would be found for the building. The KTHI support has allowed the owners to bridge that gap and create a sustainable business idea for the much loved building. The KTHI could not have achieved its aim of bringing the building back into use without the vision and drive of the owners, and their desire to see the project to this stage.

The building has been in the current ownership since 2011. Previously the building was owned by George Leonard and it was used as a print works and stationery storage. The building has changed very little since 1880 and it still retains many of its original internal timbers some of which were believed to be salvaged from tall ships. The Storehouse and Restaurant and Rooms is due to open May 2018, creating twelve full time equivalent jobs.


 The Storehouse.

Storehouse owners Judith Glue and David Spence.

Storehouse owners Judith Glue and David Spence.

The Old Library

Work has also started on the Old Library in Laing Street.

This project will see the large vacant B listed property brought back into use through creating a multiuse venue centred around an expanded existing entertainment shop, complimented with a café and coffee shop, art gallery and music venue. This will create a destination hub just off the main high street promoting local art, music and food. The completed facility is expected to create six or seven full time jobs and up to twelve new part-time.
The main library building will be the centre piece for the new hub, with the existing Librarian’s house and Library wings making up key components of the venue, which is to be largely THI funded. Furthermore, the applicant is investing significant sums in non – THI funded new build works through modifications to the former modern archive building to create the complementary café and coffee shop space, all of which will contribute to making this an excellent multi-use venue centred around one of Kirkwall’s key historic buildings.

The Old Library Laing Street.The Old Library Laing Street.

The Kirkwall Library dates from 1683 and is recognised as Scotland’s oldest Public Library. The Library relocated to a new building in 2003. The old library building was opened in 1909 by Andrew Carnegie, who twenty years earlier had gifted funds to ensure that the Library was free and open to all. In 1903 Carnegie gifted a further £1500 for the construction of a new Library building. The building is classical in style with a doric portico and pedimented semi dormers. In the 1960s a flat roofed, stone fronted extension was wrapped around the main building. The site includes a two storey dwelling house, formerly housing the archive, which dates from the early nineteenth century.

News of the opening of the new Library….. in 1909.

News of the opening of the new Library - in 1909. 

Historic Environment Scotland and Heritage Lottery Fund logos.

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