Architectural Masterpiece Renovation Complete


Above - The long room in the refurbished Custom House, Greenock. The Long Room was originally used to collect the berthing fees and to pay any customs and excise due. Picture: Colin Mearns/The Herald

A Georgian architectural masterpiece in one of the most dramatic locations in Scotland has been restored to its former glory. The four year project, which cost £4.1 million, has been completed giving a new lease of life to Greenock's Custom House which will mark its 200th anniversary next year.

Work took place over four phases with the final one including the refurbishment of the white, pillared Long Room, where berthing and customs and excise fees were paid. That phase also involved renovations to the northern entrance and the elegant Grand Staircase.

Above -  Riverside Inverclyde property manager David Martin pictured in the main entrance foyer of the Custom House, Greenock. Picture: Colin Mearns/The Herald

The A-listed Custom House was designed by architect William Burn and was originally home to the assize men who policed Scotland's burgeoning trade with the world. Sitting on the quayside, the iconic building looks across to the Argyllshire hills, and has become a symbol of Greenock and Inverclyde's maritime heritage.

It witnessed the rise and fall of the tobacco, sugar and shipbuilding industries in the town as well as the bustle of naval traffic as warships filled the Firth of Clyde in two world conflicts. More recently the quayside played host to the Queen as she joined Britannia for her annual summer cruise of Scottish waters.

AboveGreenock custom house circa 1820. From a painting by Robert Salmon Picture: Herald archive

The building continued to be occupied by HM Revenue and Customs until 2011 when it was one of the last historic purpose built customs' houses used for their original purpose. It was vacated by the HMRC in April 2011 and at that time was in danger of falling into disrepair. Regeneration company Riverside Inverclyde then acquired its lease and were responsible for the renovation work.

Above - Riverside Inverclyde Chief Executive Fiona Maguire (Left), Property Manager David Martin (Centre) and Head of Business Investment Andrew Bowman (Right). Picture: Colin Mearns/The Herald

Andrew Bowman, head of business investment and operations at Riverside Inverclyde, said:

"We wanted to make sure that we did the building justice with the refurbishment. It really is Inverclyde's Jewel in the Crown."

Several businesses have already leased office space in parts of the building refurbished earlier and Mr Bowman hopes a company will be interested in leasing the Long Room.

Above - Riverside Inverclyde chief executive Fiona Maguire outside the main entrance to the Custom house, Greenock. Picture: Colin Mearns/The Herald

The archive of the Greenock Burns Club, the oldest Burns club in the world, founded in 1801 five years after the poet's and exciseman's death, is also housed the building.

Above - The Custom House, Greenock. Picture: Colin Mearns/The Herald


This article was written by Kathleen Nutt and appeared in The Herald on Monday 28 August 2017. Full article can be located here.