Demolition Threat: Port Murray House
by Peter Womersley, South Ayrshire, Scotland, 1960-1963
DATE: 4/9/2015
"Planning permission granted to replace Port Murray House in Maidens, South Ayrshire. Modernist Port Murray House, in Maidens, South Ayrshire, is awaiting demolition. Built between 1960 and 1963, it is an outstanding and early house design by the architect Peter Womersley (1923-1993), mostly known for his residential designs, including Farnley Hen, his first house, built between 1952 and 1954 in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, for which he won the RIBA Bronze Medal, and High Sutherland, Galashiels, Scottish Borders, which he designed, in 1956, for the artist and textile designer Bernat Klein (see next article). (In 1969, Womersley also designed Klein’s nearby Studio, which is also ´at risk´.)

Situated right on the beach and in close proximity to the historic harbour of Maidens, the single-storey Port Murray House (bar a small lower ground floor level) is a complex composition of interlocking cubes, providing amazing views over Maidenhead Bay and the Firth of Clyde, with the Isle of Arran in the distance. Although Womersley has left a small, yet very significant legacy of Modernist buildings in the Scottish Border and the Lothians, Port Murray House is not only an early design by this renowned British architect but also his only work on the Scottish west coast. It has never been statutorily designated as heritage, despite winning a Civic Trust Award, in 1965.

Port Murray House has, in the past, been altered and extended (compare the 1964 RIBApix photos to the 2009 CANMORE photos) and the building remained unoccupied for some years, slowly falling into disrepair. In May this year, South Ayrshire Council has granted Planning Permission for the construction of a new house directly on the footprint of the original. The new house will have of similarly sized foot print in plan, but be two storeys high. Presumably, the demolition of Womersley’s Port Murray House will start in early 2016, if not already later this year."

Image: Alison Clayton.

[by Docomomo Scotland]