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New Book Celebrates Scotland's Sporting Heritage

11 June 2014

In what promises to be a landmark year for sport in Scotland, a new book has been launched by Historic Scotland, celebrating some of the country’s most interesting and iconic sporting buildings.

Image from Scotland's Sporting Heritage Book

Scotland’s Sporting Buildings, is the end result of months of detailed work by heritage listing experts, who visited hundreds of sites across the country for assessment. Their findings have been compiled into a beautifully illustrated book by the author Nick Haynes.  

Many of the pavilions, club-houses, huts, stadia and swimming pools reviewed had never been assessed before for listing, or had records which hadn’t been updated for up to forty years. With fresh research, a fascinating and more accurate picture of the special interest of Scotland’s sporting architecture has emerged.

As a result, 20 properties were listed for the first time, including the unique weighing room at Hamilton Park Racecourse, and seven existing listed buildings were recognised as of national or international importance by having their category of listing changed from B to A, including the Grange Cricket pavillion in Edinburgh and Gala Fairydean’s Nether Road football stadium in the Borders. Eighty-four listed building records were updated with new information, one of the most eye-catching being Gleneagles Hotel Golf Resort, which hosts the 2014 Ryder Cup.

One of Historic Scotland’s duties is to compile and maintain statutory lists of buildings of special architectural or historic interest. Many buildings are of interest, architecturally or historically, but when considering a building for listing this interest must be special.

The book’s author Nick Haynes commented: “Scotland has always had a fascinating, sometimes tumultuous relationship with sport. Although most of the sports popular in our country today are accessible to everyone, this wasn’t always the case, and these buildings reveal a lot about the people who built them and the communities surrounding them. Hopefully it offers a useful introduction to anyone interested in architecture, history or sport in Scotland.”  

The Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop said: “In this landmark year for sport in Scotland, when the country hosts two of the world’s biggest sporting spectacles in the form of the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup, it seems an appropriate time to take stock of our incredible sporting heritage.

“For a relatively small country, we have had made several key contributions to the history of sport, with innovations that have shaped most of the world’s best played sports such as Golf, Rugby Union and Football, as well as Curling, Shinty, Swimming, Highland Games and others. This new book offers a fascinating insight into how this came to be.”  

The buildings featured in the book reflect more than just fashions in popular sports, they tell us about many wider factors in society at the times they were built.

Some of the earliest buildings are associated with grand properties, showing the strong link between wealthy individuals and recreational pursuits. Scotland’s oldest sporting building, the Royal Tennis Court at Falkland Palace, is a fine example of this, built in 1539-41 for King James V.

Other games, such as curling, were famously played by all ranks of society, particularly among farmers, masons, and others whose work was disrupted by hard frost and freezing temperatures.

Some of the most iconic sporting buildings were built in the 19th and 20th centuries, designed to cater for mass participation or viewing. Stadiums such as Celtic Park, Ibrox and Murrayfield are fine examples, as is Edinburgh’s Royal Commonwealth Swimming Pool, designed for the 1970 Commonwealth Games, and listed at Category A.

Sample of buildings listed in the book – more information available on request:

Royal Tennis Court, Falkland Palace, East Port, Falkland, Fife, 1539-41       Listed Category A
Royal and Ancient Golf Club, Golf Place, St Andrews (1853)Listed category A
Murrayfield Ice Rink, 13 Riversdale Crescent, Edinburgh (1938-9)Listed category B
Arlington Baths Club, 61 Arlington Street, Glasgow (1871)Listed category A
The Western Baths Club, Cranworth Street, GlasgowListed category A
Grange Cricket Club Pavilion, Portgower Place, Edinburgh (1892-3)Listed category A
Barrie Pavilion, Hill of Kirriemuir  (1929)Listed category B
Partick Curling Club Pavilion, Victoria Park, Glasgow (1900)Listed category C
Gala Fairydean Football Club stand, Nether Road, Galashiels (1963-4)Listed category A
Northern Meeting Park Grandstand, Ardross Street, Inverness, 1865Listed Category B

Notes for editors:

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.


  • Scotland welcomes the world in the Year of Homecoming 2014 providing a year-long programme of events alongside the Ryder Cup and Commonwealth Games. The Year of Homecoming Scotland will run until 31 December 2014 throughout the length and breadth of the country. Visitors from around the world are invited to join in a celebration of the nation’s food and drink, active pursuits, cultural heritage, nature and ancestral heritage. Homecoming Scotland 2014 is a Scottish Government initiative being led by EventScotland and VisitScotland, supported by numerous partners. To find out more visit www.homecomingscotland.com. For more on Historic Scotland’s Homecoming activities visit  www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/homecoming or tweet us using #hshomecoming.

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For further information


Alan Bannon, Media & PR Officer
Historic Scotland Media Office
0131 668 8588 or 07854 366 805
alan.bannon@scotland.gsi.gov.uk