The Port House
The Port House is a Category A listed building in the historic Royal Burgh of Jedburgh. The building was purchased by the Jedburgh Community Trust in 2010 with the aim of restoring it to provide community and business space for the town. SHBT assisted with the initial feasibility study and later returned to provide project management services. The project completed on site in 2022 and the building reopened as a Community Resource Hub, having been successfully saved from the Buildings at Risk Register.
John Laidlaw and Son
The Port House, designed by James Pearson Alison, is an architecturally distinctive building with a cast iron structure and three gabled front elevation with large window openings. Iron had increasingly been used in Scottish buildings from around 1860 onwards, allowing for buildings with increased open floor space, fewer supporting walls and a larger ratio of glass in the building façade; ideal for shopfronts. The use of such designs was however very unusual outside big cities and the Port House, with its large plate glass windows, bright, open interiors and external “renaissance” detail is one of the earliest examples of its type.
The Port House was built in 1900 for the Jedburgh Co-operative Store Company at a cost of £2,105. It originally housed the Company’s registered office as well as ground floor shops and a drapery department on the first and second floors. The name Port House refers to the old town Port (gateway), which was situated just across from the building in Burn Wynd.
The Jedburgh Co-operative Store Company, established in 1866, was highly successful, with almost every second shop on the High Street Co-operative owned. The Co-op’s registered office for several years was housed in the former Jedburgh Corn Exchange building, located just off Market Place, the civic heart of the Royal Burgh. This building was unfortunately destroyed by fire in 1898.
After the fire, a decision was made by the Co-op to invest in a new building on the site of the former office as an advertisement for the Society. With the ‘client’ being the workers, the brief was for large areas of glazing to improve working conditions for seamstresses and shoemakers, and to extend working and opening hours in winter. Local architect JP Alison was commissioned to design the replacement building and achieved the brief by using a iron frame, which at the time was still fairly novel.
By the 1950s, the building became the head office for the Jedburgh Co-Operative Society, an indication of the continued strength of the co-operative movement in the town. Within living memory, workers and Co-op members can recall climbing the stair to the first-floor cash office to receive their wages or to collect their dividends. In later years, after the Co-op vacated the property, parts of the building were used as an office and store by a local electrical contractor and offices for a housing association however during this time the building fabric condition deteriorated and some inappropriate alterations took place including the replacement of the original shop frontage on the ground floor.
In March 1993 the Port House was designated a Category A listed building, as a historic building of national importance to Scotland. However, the building’s decline continued until the Jedburgh Community Trust purchased the Port House in 2010 and carried out some much-needed critical repairs to temporarily halt the decay whilst a new use could be explored. In November 2011, due to its vacant state and poor fabric condition, the building was added to the National Buildings at Risk Register. The Jedburgh Community Trust continued campaigning for the building’s restoration culminating in securing significant funding in 2020 for a major restoration and redevelopment project for the community.
A Feasibility Study was undertaken in 2010 by the Jedburgh Community Trust, assisted by SHBT, which set out a number of potential uses for the building. The study helped the JCT crystalize its vision for the building to provide space for a community resource centre with office space, community meeting rooms and workstations supported by practical office resources. Key to achieving that vision was to bring the Port House building fabric into a good condition of repair, retaining the original cast-iron structure along with reinstatement of the original façade at ground level. An approach of ‘doing as much as necessary and as little as possible’ was also adopted for the building interiors.
The Jedburgh Community Trust continued campaigning for the building’s restoration and approached SHBT to assist them with the moving forward the project development in 2019 including identification of external funding sources and appoint of a conservation accredited design team. Funding was secured from a number of sources including the Architectural Heritage Fund, the Fallago Environment Fund, and the Co-op Good Causes fund however the award of significant funding from both Jedburgh Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme and the Scottish Government Town Centre Fund was crucial to allow the project to proceed.
The project progressed on site in August 2020 with local contractor John Laidlaw & Son and completed in autumn 2022. Works carried out included repairs on a like for like basis to the historic fabric, minimal adaptation to the internal layout to suit the end-use of the building including toilet and tea making facilities and servicing for office accommodation. Disabled access was provided with the inclusion of a lift, and new services installed throughout including electrical supply and distribution, heating, water and drainage, ventilation and fire and security provision.
The Port House Today
The refurbishment project completed in 2022 and the Port House celebrated its re-opening with an open day in December 2022. The building has an anchor tenant however other spaces are available to rent. For more information please contact the Jedburgh Community Trust.
SHBT have also been appointed to assist the Jedburgh Community Trust in looking at the potential development of the rear “Bakery” building at the Port House to provide further space to complement the Port House accommodation.
More Current Projects
Jedburgh and Hawick Conservation Area Regeneration Schemes
We manage these two Conservation Area Regeneration Schemes on behalf of Scottish Borders Council.
We occupy and manage this important building in the heart of Leith whilst we develop a plan for its restoration and long-term use.