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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: B
  • Date Added: 21/12/1990


  • Local Authority: Shetland Islands
  • Planning Authority: Shetland Islands
  • Burgh: Lerwick

National Grid Reference

  • NGRHU 47765 41275
  • Coordinates447765, 1141275


W T Oldrieve for Board of Works, 1908-10. Post Office built in Scots Renaissance style, picturesque composition incorporating Post Office (Counters) with entrance to Commercial Street, and Royal Mail Letters Sorting Office with vehicle access to harbour at rear. Complex, roughly L-plan; long main 2-storey range to Commercial Street, 3-storey at rear, with 2-storey wing at right angles, stair tower in re-entrant angle. Harled walls with droved ashlar margins and detailing of dormerheads, crowsteps and deep, recessed eaves course. Sash and case windows, small-paned, some bipartite with stone mullions, side and rear windows barred at ground floor. Slightly swept, bracketted eaves, roofed with blue-grey slates, harled and corniced stacks, metal rhones, rainwater-heads with star detailing.

S (COMMERCIAL STREET) ELEVATION: near-symmetrical with advanced crowstepped outer gables flanking 4-bay centre block, which has 3 tall windows with moulded architraves at ground and 4 curvilinear pedimented dormerheads breaking eaves at 1st floor. Single storey advanced, flat-roofed ashlar shopfront overlays part of centre range and right gable - bolection moulded doorway to outer right with Royal Armorial panel over, 4 tall windows, wall-mounted posting box and stamp machine. Telephone kiosk in angle (see separate listing). Advanced gable to left has moulded doorway and window in corniced ashlar panel at ground, with ashlar balustrade extending across frontage to right. Bipartite stair window above.

N (HARBOUR) ELEVATION: asymmetrical; L-plan, main 3-storey range with 2-storey wing advanced at right angles to left, and pyramidal roofed, 2-storey stair tower in angle with bipartite at each floor. Flat-roofed vehicle loading bay adjoining main range at ground, extending across the 1st of 3 regular bays with tall bipartites to each floor, breaking eaves in pedimented dormerheads. Range terminating in taller, 2-bay tower-like crowstepped gable broken by balustraded parapet, with 2 round-headed windows at 2nd floor. Adjoining lower wing projecting to harbour; 3-bay, one crowstepped gable.

E ELEVATION: irregular fenestration; bipartites at ground and 1st floor, 2nd floor window with moulded panel over set in gablehead breaking eaves. Tall, corbelled wallhead stack.

YARD WALL: harled dwarf wall with ashlar cope and drum piers.

Statement of Special Interest

The post office was built over Sinclair's Beach and the site of a house, pier and loberry. In 1887, Andrew Smith won in a dispute with Lerwick Harbour Trust over the ownership of Sinclair's Beach. Smith held that Udal (Norse) Law whereby the beach and foreshore is the property of the landowner prevailed over Scots Law which states that the foreshore is crown property. It was the scene of the arrest of 40 employees on 1st November 1914 (for an unexplained reason) who were marched to the county jail between 2 lines of marines with fixed bayonets, it is assumed, due to thoughts they had been tampering with official war mail associated with the naval base at Swarback Minn. An early 20th century photograph shows the yard wall and drum piers to be considerably higher originally. The design and siting of this building is used to far more effect than the strikingly similar one in Oban. The scale and massing of the elements respond very well to the different aesthetic and practical demands of Commercial Street and the harbour, and as such affirms this building as a fine piece of civic design.



Mike Finnie SHETLAND (1990), p13. Aurora YESC, DA STREET (1994). Liv Kjorsvik and Gunnie Moberg THE SHETLAND STORY (1988) p176. Tom Henderson SHETLAND FROM OLD PHOTOGRAPHS (1978) plate 67. James W Irvine LERWICK (1985) plate 28. Norman Hudson SOUVENIR POSTCARDS FROM SHETLAND (1992) p13 and 17. John Gifford HIGHLANDS AND ISLANDS (1992) p490. Thomas Manson LERWICK DURING THE LAST HALF CENTURY (1991) p130.

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.

Enquiries relating to works to listed buildings should be made to the local authority in the first instance. Listed building consent is required for works which a local authority considers will affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest and local authorities also decide if listed building consent is required.

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.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at