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Stirling’s Heritage: Spotlight on The Granary

Kerse Cornmill 1974
Kerse Cornmill captured in 1974 Copyright HES courtesy of J R Hume

In a new series of posts on Stirling’s Heritage, we turn our spotlight on The Granary building.

The B-Listed Kerse Cornmill, which currently lies empty, is one of the few industrial buildings left in Stirling which date from the early 1900s. Kerse Cornmill has been mostly unused since 1991; this led to its owners applying to Stirling Council for permission to demolish it after commissioning an independent appraisal from Hypostyle Architects. Hypostyle stated that the building was unsafe and posed a health and safety risk to users. They also felt that:

The building cannot be adapted for use as part of the surrounding car dealership operations. The only function previously considered had been storage and offices, the adoption of which is not economically viable as there is not requirement or need for it.[1]

The grain store is now surrounded by later modern buildings, which have hemmed it in, and it is currently on the Building’s at Risk Register for Scotland as it is in a very poor condition.

In c.1904 this 3-storey red brick building was erected to store the grain of Robert Walls and Sons of Kerse Mills on what was the Polmasie Estate, and it still contains numerous industrial fixtures and fittings from the period. The store was also used to prepare and mix grains to produce a type of horse feed known as ‘chop’. Kerse Cornmill is considered to be ‘a uniquely sophisticated building of its type in Scotland’[2], and for this reason alone it is worthy of rescue.

The grain store, or Granary as it is colloquially known, was ideally situated near Stirling’s train station, enabling the easy transportation of goods to and from the store. In this image taken by architectural historian Professor John Hume in 1974 you can see the following text painted on the side of the building:

ROBERT WALLS & SONS

OATMEAL & PROVENDER MILLERS

AGRICULTURAL MERCHANTS

Unfortunately, the paint has now completely faded, and the timber awnings seen in this image have long since gone; they would originally have sheltered carts loading and unloading building from the worst of the Scottish weather.

Kerse Cornmills in 2019, copyright Daily Record.
Kerse Cornmills in 2019, copyright Daily Record.

The Cornmill is just 1 of 53 Buildings at Risk in the Stirling area. There are 17 buildings have been placed in the high risk category, and 3 are in the critical risk category, which means that there is an immediate threat to the building either through demolition or further deterioration. However, things can be turned around. SCHT’s new office is located in Cameron House at The Barracks behind Stirling train station.

The Barracks prior to refurbishment
The Barracks prior to refurbishment Copyright the Daily Record, 2017

The Barracks were built by the British Army c.1886 and had been on the Building’s at Risk Register since 2009. Purchased by the Robertson Trust in 2017 and subsequently refurbished, The Barracks is now an important Third Sector Hub and is home to a number of Scottish charities including Enable Scotland and Barnardo’s. The success of this redevelopment, and others like it across Scotland, is encouraging. A state of climate emergency has been declared by numerous countries, which has made the heritage sector even more aware of the importance of the embodied energy contained in our historic built environment. Embodied energy is the energy consumed by a building throughout its life, from the energy needed to create the building to the energy required to maintain, operate and demolish.  This means that there is a strong argument for retaining traditional buildings, which are generally constructed from durable and long-lasting materials. Historic Environment Scotland research has shown that:

Retaining existing buildings and seeking to enhance their energy performance in sensitive ways is in keeping with building conservation, sustainability and progress towards a low carbon society.[3]

As a society we need to focus our energies on adapting our traditional building stock. Those taking an active interest in Stirling’s heritage are playing a part in this positive movement.

The Barracks Offices and Conference Centre, copyright the Robertson Trust, 2019

[1] https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/local-news/stirling-car-firm-bids-demolish-15025126

[2] https://canmore.org.uk/collection/431547

[3] https://pureapps2.hw.ac.uk/ws/portalfiles/portal/645924/technicalpaper13.pdf

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