he buildings of 49 – 53 Bridge Street, Banff are Category B listed and had been in a derelict state. On 21st January 2019, the North East Scotland Preservation Trust (NESPT) started work on restoring the buildings to bring them back into use as accommodation for tourists on learning breaks at the newly opened Centre for Excellence in Silversmithing and Jewellery in Banff.
49 – 53 Bridge Street is situated within the Banff Conservation Area and is on the Buildings at Risk Register. The Historic Environment Scotland listing states that it dates from the late 18th century and that it is a 2-storey, irregular 4-bay range with pend entrance at right. The Statement of Special Interest says that it has an unusual shop front dating from 1835 and incorporating pilasters with composite capitals. These are similar in design to those decorating the former Banff Academy, a stylistic feature much used by William Robertson, architect, Elgin. The front wallhead chimney stack is characteristic of some early houses in Banff and Portsoy.
The project will also assist in the revival of the craft of Silversmithing, an important part of Banff’s heritage, as it will be converted into three townhouses and fitted out to provide comfortable accommodation for visitors to the newly opened Silversmithing Centre, also known as ‘The Smiddy’. The accommodation is only a two-minute walk from the Centre, and the project is a collaboration between NESPT and Vanilla Ink, the operators of the Centre. Vanilla Ink will manage the letting of the accommodation as an additional part of their business, and it is aimed that work will be complete by summer 2019.
Funding for the project is being provided by North Aberdeenshire LEADER, Aberdeenshire Council, Historic Environment Scotland, National Heritage Lottery Fund and the Pilgrim Trust.