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Listed Building

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site only. All other information in the record is not statutory.


Status: Designated


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  • Category: A
  • Date Added: 13/10/1980


  • Local Authority: Argyll And Bute
  • Planning Authority: Argyll And Bute
  • Burgh: Dunoon

National Grid Reference

  • NGRNS 17656 76480
  • Coordinates217656, 676480


Clarke and Bell with Sir William Copland in collaboration with R A Brydon and C J M Mackintosh, 1896-98; incorporating earlier pier to N by Campbell Douglas, 1867-68; later 20th century alterations (see Notes). Rare and exceptional 19th century timber-pile ferry/steamer pier. Large, T-plan pedestrian pier adjoining earlier pier to N (currently used for vehicles - 2011). To pier-head: ornamental Victorian waiting room and pier master's office to centre; rare signal tower incorporating later tearoom to S arm of pier-head. Entrance ticket lodge located at slightly wider foot of pedestrian section.

WAITING ROOMS AND PIER MASTER'S OFFICE: single-storey, rectangular-plan, gable-ended, timber pavilion waiting-rooms including harbour master's office. Round-arched windows to ground floor. S Elevation: 2-storey octagonal tower to centre with crowning, ogee-roofed clock cupola and weather vane; flat-roofed verandas flanking with elaborate timber doorpieces to waiting rooms. N Elevation: 3 half-timbered gables with canted window bays and timber details including timber shingles to exterior walls. Red pantiled roofs with cupola ventilators.

SIGNAL TOWER AND ADJOINING TEAROOM: ornate 4-stage, square-plan, timber signal tower (circa 1896-8); pantiled skirt and ogee-roof to 3rd stage; pierced, ogee-roofed cupola and ornamental cast-iron weathervane finial.

Tower adjoins SE corner of single-storey, flat-roofed former waiting room and tearoom building (built 1937).

TICKET LODGE: Single-storey, cruciform-plan ticket lodge (circa 1896-8 with late 20th century alterations - see Notes) at foot of pier. Bowed to E and W elevations with conical, pantiled roof.

PIER AND RAILINGS: greenheart timber piles braced in pairs and further cross-braced by diagonal timbers. Outward facing piers are battered. Rod-iron connections with external bolts. Timber decking, rails and balustrade.

Statement of Special Interest

Dunoon Pier is the best surviving example of a timber ferry/steamer pier in Scotland. Now extremely rare, these piers played a key role in the economic and social development of coastal and island communities in the west of Scotland in the 19th and 20th centuries. Substantially retaining its character following its late 19th century programme of enlargement, the pier and its key buildings contribute significantly to the architectural and historic interest of Dunoon and to the wider maritime heritage of the West Coast.

The timber waiting room and pier master's office, located at the centre of the pierhead, is of key significance to the character of the pier and an iconic building on the Firth of Clyde coast line. Largely retaining its original form and distinctive detailing, it is the finest Victorian pier building of its type in the country. At the height of its popularity, access to the pier to non-passengers became ticketed which reflects its concurrent function as a 'pleasure pier' more commonly associated with resort towns in England. In 1937 a 220 ft long, timber and steel viewing gallery platform was built to connect the buildings on the pierhead assembly area. This structure was removed in the 1980s.

The pioneering signalling system was first installed at the pier in 1888. The tower was an early and forward thinking safety mechanism using a system of coloured discs to avoid collision of approaching steamers and to guide the operators to their designated berthing positions on each side of the pier. The signal tower was re-configured in a more decorative form as part of the 1896 rebuilding programme. It became electronically operated in later years and now, no longer in use, forms part of the 1937 tearoom addition to the S arm of the pierhead. Elements of the earlier signalling system mechanism survive inside the tower, adding significantly to the architectural and historic interest.

The 1890s entrance ticket lodge was originally an open turnstile building with covered, timber detailed walkways to either side. The building was reworked in the 1980s using a mix of traditional and non-traditional materials and broadly retaining its original cruciform plan and massing.

Dunoon was first established in the middle of the eighteenth century, with the earliest stone jetty built around 1767. The first timber pier was constructed by a joint stock company in 1835. The rail link from Glasgow to Gourock opened in 1841 leading to population swell and increasing tourism in and around the Clyde Estuary. A more substantial pier was built at Dunoon in 1845 although this was destroyed by a storm in 1848, rebuilt the following year and extended in 1867 by Douglas Campbell. In 1896, the pier was significantly enlarged to its present, inverted F-plan form.

The use of timber piling to form marine structures has a long and significant history in Scotland and on the west coast in particular. Once commonplace, they are now a rare building type. The timber piles of Dunoon Pier are braced in pairs and further braced by diagonal timbers with the outer piers battered to resist the forces of berthing ships. Structually, the pier was purposefully 'over-engineered' to account for the severity of the storms along this particular stretch of coast and the large amount of steamers and other vessels it served.

Change of category from B to A and list description revised, 2011.



1st Edition Ordnance Survey Map (1862). Evident on 2nd Edition Ordnance Survey Map (1898). John Hume, The Industrial Archaeology of Scotland Vol 2 (1978) pp149-150. Ian McCrorie, Dunoon Pier - A Celebration (1997). Frank Arnell Walker, The Buildings of Scotland: Argyll and Bute (2000).

About Designations

Listed Buildings

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest and these are selected according to criteria published in the, Annex 2, pp74-76.

The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

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Listing covers both the exterior and the interior. Listing can cover structures not mentioned which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The local authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. For information about curtilage see

Legislation introduced on 1 October 2015 allows us to state that: an object or structure fixed to the listed building; any object or structure within the curtilage of the listed building; and, any part or feature of the listed building that is not of architectural or historic interest may be excluded from a listing. If part of your building is not listed under the new legislation, the part will be excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.

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