Banff Preservation and Heritage Society and Museum of Banff


Below are some of the projects that the Society has either completed in recent years, or that are currently in progress.


This last year has been both our 50th Birthday and also an exciting time in the latest developements on the town.

The withdrawal of Tesco's store plans has removed the uncertainty that has been hanging over the town for a number of years.

One such project that the Society has driven forward is the revival of silversmithing in Banff 
which used to be a main source of income for the town in the late 18th/early 19th Century. Exhibits of this fine work can be found in the Museum of Banff. Working with Aberdeenshire Council, the Old Smithy (once the MealHouse), as part of the CARS Bridge Street project has been identified as a suitable building to house a silversmith workshop.

Consultants were appointed (Kirkhill Associates) to look into the feasability of ressurrecting silversmithing and the report was very favourable. Work was then carried out to stabilise the building and restore the bell tower (see picture above).
A grant application was put forward to the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund and we are pleaseed to say it has passed Stage One of the application and we are now awaiting the results of Stage Two (due in February 2016).
Aberdeenshire Area Committee have fully supported the project and, in principle, have agreed to lease the Smithy to the Society for the purpose of the silversmith workshop.
We also greatly appreciate the support and encouragement of the local councillors and the Community Council.

June 2015.

The Society's latest publication, 'The Carved Stones of the Royal Burgh of Banff' by Charles J Burnett and Henry J Mantell, both previous committee members of the society, was met with great interest at our launch in June. The book is avaliable to buy from the Museum of Banff and also at Imagine at Twenty Seven,27 Low Street, along with all our other publications and leaflets.

December 2014

The Society's latest publication, 'The Kirkyard Vol 2 (complete with location map of all the tombstones) by Dr David Clark and Henry J Mantell,was launched in December with a short and very interesting talk held in the old Kirkyard, followed by warming mulled wine and mince pies at The Market Arms public house.

October 2011.

The Society's latest publication, Banff Through Time (published by Amberley Publishing) was launched. showing a colourful pictorial history of Banff, then and now. 

1 Mar 2009

Since the last Newsletter there has been little movement with the restoration of the Meal House as much depends on the creation of the adjacent Tesco supermarket. There is still one more legal process to be undertaken before Aberdeenshire Council can release the land for construction to begin. Work on the Meal House will then follow.



1 Mar 2009

Various Society members were given areas of the kirkyard to record by photography and note-taking. Inscriptions, heraldry, decoration, and condition have been noted and compared with the printed list made by William Cramond in 1891. A report on the restoration of the Sharp tomb has been received and this will prove an expensive exercise. The Committee has decided to await completion of the recording exercise and then prepare a comprehensive report on the condition of the kirkyard in order to seek grant-aid for the repair of the Sharp tomb and other memorial stones which have been broken or toppled.



12 Nov 2008

In November 2008 a new book was published in hardback called The Book of Banff.
. About 80,000 words and over 200 pictures present a social history of the community which covers well-nigh a millennium. It is not the first book to feature this Royal and Ancient Burgh. Dr W Cramond's "Annals of Banff" 2 Vols. (1891-93), James Imlach's "History of Banff and Familiar Account of its Inhabitants and Belongings" (1898), Dr A E Mahood's "Banff and District" (1919) and Prof. H Hamilton's (Ed.) volume on Banffshire in "The Third Statistical Account of Scotland" (1961) are but four of the main sources from which the editors and writers of this new book have drawn. More recently, the Banff Preservation and Heritage Society has produced a booklet "Royal and Ancient Banff' 4th Edn. (1998) which is a pocket-sized guide best appreciated as one walks with it around the town.

The initial impetus for the book came from one of our newer members, Julian Watson, who had come to live in Banff after a sojourn in SW England where he had been made aware of a publishing company, Halsgrove, which specialised in producing such community histories of other towns, even villages, according to a designed format. He was able to show the Committee other examples of that company's work, with the inevitable result that he was immediately voted on to an Editorial Committee of four with a brief to produce "The Book of Banff" within the year! Three others, including myself, made up the team - but in the end we were able to recruit with, surprisingly, little or no arm twisting, more than twenty other contributors - all working to tight deadlines. Little did we know how much work we were letting ourselves in for!

There is a lot in the book which will titillate the interest of many readers - and for non-readers there is such a wealth of intriguing and historic pictures that they may even buy a coffee table to put it on. The book is not a history book in the ordinary sense. It has tried to be historically as accurate as possible but also to present history in as personalised a way as possible. It is the history of a community and its people. There will be personal reminiscences which are openly nostalgic. But there are also references to the more substantial visitors to our town - King Robert Bruce H, King Haakon VII of Norway, Robert Bums, Dr Johnson and Boswell, Lord Byron, the Duke of Cumberland etc. etc. But how many of you know about James Edward Kyber or Susannah Emmet or Captain George Duff? And how many of you know about "riding the stang" or that fines for fornication were part source of the cash to build a new harbour?
David F Clark OBE

* Previously referred to in these project articles as - 'A New Community History of Banff'

The book is available at many good bookshops and from the Society itself by contacting: Dr Alistair Mason, Hon Secretary, 14 Old Castlegate, Banff, 
Price £19.99, plus £3.01 for postage.



1 Mar 2008

The Publication sub-committee has copied a lot of raw material for the history, and carefully filed them in 10 categories, so for some parts of the book we can hand over the evidence, and say "write this up in 500 words".

Julian Watson has constructed a mockup of the final work. We know there will be 160 pages, and about 250 pictures, and so we have Roughly planned what will go on every page. There is still room for flexibility in case something important is found to be missing and we can squeeze it in.

We have found at least one artist who has already given us drawings of historic events before the days of photography. Based on the mock-up and earlier outlines we have drawn up a list of over one hundred subject areas which will be covered by a variety of authors with specific expertise and knowledge.

We shall be sending off all the material for printing the preliminary flier describing the book. This will be used to attract purchasers and those wishing to become a subscriber. The book will contain a printed list of subscriber names. It is hoped all Members will decide to become subscribers. The new Community History will not cost more than £25.00 per copy. Postage will be extra for delivery outwith Banff.



1 Mar 2008

The Meal House Proposals.

As part of the development on the site for the new Tesco supermarket, Banff Meal House will be restored and enlarged for use by the Society. Committee member, Harry Mantell, has produced a plan and views of the proposed appearance of the building. The original building [the three gables to the right of the entrance] will be used as a meeting/exhibition space. There will be French doors on the south elevation leading to a terrace which could be used in the summer months for serving teas. This will look on to a new public square. An office, store, small kitchen, lavatories and entrance foyer will be contained in a new extension which reflects the original building.

A quantity surveyor has prepared an estimated cost for the works involved. Restoring the Meal House will cost £144,000, building the new extension will add £130,000. Other works, plus a contingency sum, will make a grand total of £315,000, excluding VAT. Committee are confident that this sum can be obtained through grants from various bodies. Further sums for fittings and furniture have yet to be calculated, but by considering the possibilities of hiring the building for various events and operating a tearoom in the summer, the building should be self supporting.

Committee will keep members informed of progress with the Meal House.

Banff Preservation and Heritage Society and Museum of Banff

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