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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: 12/08/1996


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

National Grid Reference

  • NGRHU 47340 41229
  • Coordinates447340, 1141229


John M Aitken, 1902, with additions of 1933. Symmetrical Scots Baronial former school comprising 3-storey, 3-bay principal block with lower 3-storey, 2-bay wings flanking to N and S, each with 2-storey, 10-bay classroom wing extending from rear (W) giving U-plan. Stugged, squared and snecked sandstone walls with stugged, droved and polished ashlar dressings and details. Base course, string course articulated around lintels at ground, cill course at 1st floor, string and eaves courses at 2nd floor.

E (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: centre bay of principal block gabled and slightly advanced; modern pointed-arched opening at ground; modern inscription with flanking quatrefoil decoration over lintel, hoodmould articulated around segmental-arched panel above, containing inscription reading "CENTRAL PUBLIC SCHOOL 1902". 4-light mullioned and transomed windows at floors above; hoodmould articulated around pointed-arched panel bearing burgh arms at 2nd floor lintel. Transomed bipartite windows at all floors in flanking bays; those at 2nd floor with pointed-arched lintels. Framed stone plaque at ground to outer right with inscription reading "Foundation Stone Laid 7th August 1901 by John M Aitken, Arch." Circular bartizans with blind arrowslits, quatrefoils, and machicolated and corniced eaves corbelled out at corners and framing 2nd floor. 3-storey 2-bay wings recessed at right and left; concrete covered steps with stugged and coped sandstone balustrades accessing pointed-arched doors adjacent to re-entrant angle with "GIRLS" and "BOYS" inscribed on lintels; single windows centred above at 2nd floor, bipartite windows at each floor in bays to outer left and right.

N ELEVATION: gable end of principal block with bipartite mullioned and transomed window to outer left of elevation, and centring gablehead at 2nd floor. Gable of N wing with bipartite windows at each floor to outer left, stair windows at outer right. Classroom wing extending to right; 10 bays, grouped 3-3-4 with bipartite windows inserted in centre bays of 3-bay groups.

S ELEVATION: mirrored image of N elevation except for no bipartite windows inserted in 3-bay groups of classroom wing.

Modern glazing throughout. Purple-grey slate roofs; square lantern centring ridges of principal block comprising slate-hung battered base, louvered timber sides, corniced at eaves with bell-cast pyramidal roof surmounted by bird weathervane. Conical bell-cast roofs with ball finials to bartizans. Crowstepped E gable of principal block with octagonal shaft finial engaged at apex. Crowstepped skew copes flanking coped 2-flue apex stacks with circular cans to principal block and wings. Ashlar skew copes to classroom wings; coped single-flue apex stacks with circular cans.

INTERIOR: symmetrically disposed timber stairs in N and S wings; turned spindles and newels with urn finials. Pyramidal cupola over central hall at 1st floor, formerly galleried with balustrade around. Basket-arched arcaded screen to E, staircase behind with decorative cast-iron balusters and timber handrail. Vertically-boarded timber wainscoting and pointed-arched door openings to classrooms; panelled doors with 6-pane uppers.

PLAYSHELTERS: oriented N-S, and flanking rear wings of main building. Purple grey slate roofs; basket-arched openings now infilled.

BOUNDARY WALLS: coped random rubble retaining wall to King Harald Street surmounted by iron railings with finialled stanchions. Flanking gatepiers with droved ashlar piers comprising stop-chamfered shafts with bases and pyramidal caps; 2-leaf iron gates, 3 cast-iron lamp standards remaining. Wall terminated to N and S by matching piers. Coped random rubble boundary walls to N and S.

Statement of Special Interest

The 4-bay westernmost extent of the classroom wings are additions of 1933. A photograph of circa 1970 shows there to be a window (matching the floors above) centred at the ground floor of the principal block. After closure of the school, conversion to use as a community centre was made in 1978-80. Aitken?s obituary of 1923 stated "there is no finer Public School in the north of Scotland - either as to internal arrangements or architectural beauty". Although the modern timber doors and glazing are out of character with the rest of the building, the new central arch is in keeping with the architecture and this remains one of the burgh?s most important buildings.



Mike Finnie SHETLAND (1990) p30. Shetland Islands Council Archive. James W Irvine LERWICK (1985) p217. Norman Hudson SOUVENIR POSTCARDS FROM SHETLAND (1992) p21. Shetland Islands Community Council ISLESBURGH HOUSE (1980) p12. Thomas Manson LERWICK DURING THE LAST HALF CENTURY (1991) p105 and 247.

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.

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