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Scotland's Heritage Celebrates European Glory

18 June 2009

One of Scotland’s leading architectural historians has been awarded The European Heritage Awards’ highest accolade.

Professor David Walker OBE will receive the prize for his dedicated service to heritage.

The 2009 Awards have also recognised three Scottish heritage projects for their conservation work:

  • Logie Schoolhouse, Angus
  • The Pier Arts Centre, Orkney
  • Stanley Mills, Perthshire

Culture Minister Michael Russell said: “For three Scottish projects to be honoured alongside the best in Europe in this way is a significant  honour. They are very different in size, style and how they are used – but they brilliantly demonstrate the architectural legacy we have and the huge asset it is.

“Professor Walker is hugely respected at home and abroad and has literally changed the way that this country views and protects its heritage. He truly deserves this honour and with his dedication and passion for Scotland’s buildings he is not only a great example, but an inspiration.

“I would like to add my own congratulations to Professor Walker and everyone involved in the massive successes of the Logie Schoolhouse, The Pier Arts Centre and Stanley Mills.”

Born in Dundee in 1933, Professor Walker is a former Chief Inspector of Historic Buildings, adviser to the Secretary of State for Scotland and expert adviser to the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Professor Walker said: “The Dictionary of Scottish Architects began 57 years ago with my work for the National Buildings Record under the guidance of the late Colin McWilliam.  Appointment to the Scottish Office enabled me to extend my early research so that a more national dictionary of architects and their work was gradually built up; and from the mid 1970s I was greatly assisted in everything that I did by my colleagues in the Scottish Office and at the Royal Commission.

“Others most generously joined in, contributing their own research to make the database as comprehensive as possible, and once the dictionary went online, descendants found it and contributed family information and photographs. The whole project has developed in a way we could never have envisaged when my colleagues first encouraged me to develop the dictionary into printed form 16 years ago.”

The three Scottish entries winning recognition in the conservation category will all receive plaques to mark their achievements.

The European Heritage Awards promote high standards, high-quality conservation  skills and the trans-border discussion of the best ways to preserve heritage.

Other UK prize winners included High Level Bridge at Newcastle-Gateshead upon Tyne in the conservation category and the Upper Colne Valley dry stone walling project in the Education, training and awareness-raising category. In addition, the architectural survey submitted by the St James’s Conservation Trust and the restoration of Birmington Town Hall each received special commendations from the judges.


Medal of Honour
Professor David Walker OBE

Though he originally trained as an art teacher he developed an interest in architectural history in his schooldays.  Whilst still a student he began to research towns, settlements, industrial buildings and country houses on behalf of the National Building Record, now part of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

In 1961 he became a Senior Investigator with the Scottish Office’s Historic Buildings branch, the predecessor of Historic Scotland, and went on to become Chief Inspector of Historic Buildings from 1983 until his retirement in 1993.

On his retirement from public service he was made Associate Professor of Art History at St Andrews University where he began work on the online Dictionary of Scottish Architects in 2002. The website lists 7,730 individuals and practices, with 37,015 individual sites. In May 2006 it recorded 990,000 hits with a daily average of 2,400 from all around the world and has continued to grow ever since.

Pier Arts Centre, Stromness
Reiach and Hall

Neil Firth Director of the Pier Arts Centre commented: “Reiach and Hall’s sensitively designed extension and regeneration of the Pier Arts Centre has rightfully gained much critical acclaim in the two years since the centre re-opened. I am delighted that the project has been recognised by Europa Nostra for the important role of
preserving the centre and its Collection of National Significance to Scotland.”

The Pier Arts Centre re-emerged in July 2007 following a two year redevelopment project that transformed the original listed buildings and pier into an arts complex of international importance. The centre sits on one of the many piers that characterise the historic town of Stromness, a conservation area of outstanding merit and was awarded £88,950 from Historic Scotland’s Building Repair Grants.

The original building has been enhanced by the addition of a striking new modern building designed with Stromness very much in mind by Reiach and Hall Architects.

Logie Schoolhouse, Angus
National Trust for Scotland

National Trust for Scotland Chief Executive Kate Mavor said: “It is wonderful that an esteemed body such as Europa Nostra has acknowledged the significance of this little building and our role in its preservation. Indeed, it is fitting that, as we approach the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of our Little House Improvement Scheme, the Trust’s role in delivering exemplary conservation projects that bring wider benefits to the people of Scotland, is recognised at the highest level.”

Logie Schoolhouse was built in the early 19th century and is one of the most complete surviving examples of mudwall buildings in Scotland. In the past it was used as a school and a church, but it fell into disrepair and was ear-marked for demolition. However, thanks to the intervention of a concerned neighbour, Angus Council realised the importance of conserving this unusual building and developed a proposal to save it from demolition, working with the National Trust for Scotland.

The £390,000 project received funding from Historic Scotland (£155,620), the Scottish Government and Angus Council and involved a team of specialist builders and craftsmen, using traditional skills to transform the building into a modern, one bedroom residence.

Stanley Mills
Historic Scotland

Chris Watkins, Historic Scotland Head of Major Projects, said: “I am delighted that Europa Nostra has recognised the hard work that has gone into Stanley Mills. The mix of residential accommodation and heritage visitor attraction means it is once again home to a community, one that has a very proud past and I hope that this award will encourage more people to visit it and see it for themselves.”

Less than a year after opening to the public, Stanley Mills can already boast five-star rating from VisitScotland. Back in 1995, the internationally important complex of former water-powered cotton mills lay dilapidated and facing demolition. Since then, Historic Scotland and the Princes Regeneration Trust, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Gannochy Trust, have worked to bring this complex, which operated between 1786 and 1989, back into use.

The East Mill and much of the Mid Mill were converted into flats and townhouses by the Prince’s Regeneration Trust and last year Historic Scotland completed a £4.7m project to turn the Bell Mill and part of the Mid Mill into a visitor and education centre, featuring innovative interactive installations.

Notes for editors

  • An image of the winners will be distributed after 4pm on June 17th, 2009.

  • For more information about the European Heritage Awards  and Europa Nostra visit

  • Historic Scotland is delighted to be supporting the 2009 Year of Homecoming with a series of initiatives including family trails, spectacular events and the creation of a Homecoming Pass for heritage attractions in association with other heritage organisations.

For further information

Lesley Brown
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8603 or 07788 923873

Sarah Cuthbert-Kerr
0844 493 2483

The Pier Arts Centre
Isla Holloway
01856 850209

Europa Nostra
Laurie Neal
00 317 0302 4058