The catalyst for the formation of the Society was the demolition in 1965 of the building shown in the centre of the above photograph in Banff's High Street. This building was replaced with a stark, basic, flat-roofed box, shown in the present-day photograph below and now occupied by the Co-operative Society. This act of civic vandalism stimulated a number of people into forming the Preservation Society, in an attempt to prevent further acts of destruction and to protect the built heritage of the town.
A group led by Mrs Urquhart of Craigston and Banff architect Jack Meldrum brought together people who felt as passionate as themselves about Banff's architecture. Sir John Betjeman was one of the Society's Presidents and still among us is Mrs Anne Meldrum, widow of Jack Meldrum,who was amongst the founder members.
At the time of the founding of the Society, Government legislation enabled local Councils to provide grants for the improvement of suitable buildings. The legislation prohibited the sale of a grant-aided improved building for a number of years, but a scheme similar to the 'Little Houses' project begun by the National Trust for Scotland allowed the properties to be rented for a period of 3 years, with the tenant having the first option to buy at the end of the period with all rental payments credited against the purchase price. The first property purchased by the Society for this purpose was 12 Deveronside, Banff, for £12.00 in 1966. The house was restored and sold on, and, impressed with what could be achieved, the Society was encouraged to buy the house next door.
The next house to be restored was No.1 High Shore, Banff, which had been gifted to the Society. This historic high turretted pink house (on the corner of Carmelite Street) when completed had an official opening with many coming to view the restoration, including the Earl of Wemyss and Sir James Stormonth-Darling from the National Trust for Scotland. Both gave the Society a lot of encouragement, as very few National Preservation Societies had then been established. The property was sold on some years later.
Restoration and conservation work carried out by the Society then continued with 9 Carmelite Street, 3 High Shore, 41 - 47 High Street and the Banff Castle gates.
The Lord Lyon King of Arms granted a coat of arms to the Society in November 2006. It incorporates the Virgin and Child from the old Royal Burgh Council Arms which ceased to exist in 1975. The shells are taken from the former Macduff Burgh Council arms to serve as a reminder of the Duff family connections with that Burgh. The legal fees to the Lyon Office were generously donated by the Banff Common Good Fund and the St Andrew Fund for Scots Heraldry.
(pics to be uploaded soon)
Banff High Street post 1965 at the same location
Banff Preservation and Heritage Society and Museum of Banff