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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 48007 40955
  • Coordinates448007, 1140955


W Laidlaw MacDougall and W W Reid, dated 1914-23, with boundary walls by John M Aitken. 2-storey and attic, 3-bay symmetrical hostel with classical details, gabled 3-storey wings projecting at rear giving U-plan. Harled walls with polished and droved ashlar dressings and details. Base course, cill course at 2nd floor, band course and mutuled cornice at eaves. Stop-chamfered window arrises. Stone transoms to ground floor windows.

NE (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: symmetrical, channelled pilasters framing elevation and broad centre bay, entrance door with panelled pilasters recessed at ground behind distyle screen of Tuscan columns; stone steps to glazed and panelled timber entrance door with semicircular 6-pane fanlight at centre, flanking 6-pane timber fixed-lights with matching fanlights above. Entablature corbelled out to frieze bearing script "BRUCE HOSTEL" with flanking heart sculptures; 5-light window at 1st floor, downward-swept parapet breaking eaves above with segmental-arched armorial panel containing date 1919 and shield at centre. 7-light mullioned and canted bays at ground in outer bays; tripartite windows at 1st floor framed by channelled pilasters, segmental-arched pediments at eaves.

SE ELEVATION: asymmetrical, 3-bay end elevation of principal block to right framed by channelled pilasters, transomed windows at ground, bipartite at bay to left, additional window at 1st floor to left of centre bay. 2-bay wing recessed at left, transomed windows at ground, 2 in bay to left, 3 narrow windows in bay to right with door below that at centre. Regular fenestration at 1st and 2nd floors, bipartite windows, gabled dormerheads breaking eaves at 2nd floor.

NW ELEVATION: mirrored image of SE elevation; except bipartite window at ground floor blind, mullioned bipartite windows at ground floor of wing.

SW (REAR) ELEVATION: near-symmetrical, modern infill at centre, flanking gabled wings, each with 2 windows in inner left bay at ground, narrow window offset to left, door in inner right bay, tripartite windows at 1st and 2nd floors.

Modern glazing throughout. Purple-grey slate roof, piended and bell-cast to main block, cast-iron gutters and downpipes with semi-octagonal hoppers, red terracotta ridge tiles with finials. Corniced timber dormers to NE pitch, bipartite at centre and outer bays, tripartite at SE and NW pitches. Overhanging timber eaves to wings, slate roofs with terracotta ridge tiles to dormers. Harled wallhead stacks at SE and NW elevations of main block, deep ashlar copes with battered red circular cans.

INTERIOR: entrance hall; decorative timber floor, vertically-boarded timber panels to dado with incised hearts to rail. 6-panel architraved doors. Timber screen below staircase (matching dado) with arched and glazed upper section. Ornate bronze urn supported by Chinese figures and surmounted by eagle (2 dragons recently removed). Timber stair and balustrade with panelled newels and incised hearts in urn finials; plain square balusters with octagonal stanchions and incised hearts, herringbone patterned soffit. 3-pane stair window with border glazing. Pair of architraved 3-pane round-arched with bracketted cills at 1st floor landing. Timber chimneypieces in rooms flanking hall.

TERRACES: ashlar steps at centre with channelled parapets terminated by dies with bases and caps; flanking harled retaining walls with ashlar balustraded parapet, circular bastions at corners to outer left and right with crenellated parapets, terrace returned along side elevations. Secondary terrace wall to NE, random rubble wall with channelled cope, wide opening at centre, stugged drum piers with channelled caps. Wall terminated to N and S by conical-capped drum piers integral with boundary walls.

BOUNDARY AND RETAINING WALLS: boundary random rubble retaining wall to W, terminated to N by harled drum gatepiers with bases and conical caps. Random rubble boundary walls to N, S, and W with square-section channelled cope. 2-leaf timber entrance gates to NW; incised hearts and trefoils, with wrought-iron hinges, square ashlar piers with corniced caps; flanking stugged squared and snecked quadrant walls with base course and blind arrowslits, curving forward to drum piers with arrowslits and conical caps. Stone steps at centre, square piers at top with bases, caps and urns matching internal stair. Random rubble quadrant wall at NE corner, stugged, stop-chamfered gatepiers, 2-leaf vertically-boarded timber gates with wrought-iron hinges, cope oversailing as arch with keystone bearing heart motif at centre. Stugged ashlar drum piers with bases and conical caps flanking quadrant.

Statement of Special Interest

Although dated 1919, construction work had already begun in 1914 and was not completed until 1923. It was gifted by Robert Hunter Bruce of Sumburgh and Lunna. W Laidlaw MacDougall was the agent of the Sumburgh estate, and W W Reid was later to become burgh surveyor. The loosely baroque detailing suggests that its design might have been influenced by J J Burnet?s Bank of Scotland. John M Aitken was the contractor, and is credited with the design of the perimeter walls, gates, and gatepiers. Like the neighbouring Anderson Institute, this building is a striking feature on the burgh?s skyline, particularly when arriving by sea. It is of good quality construction and an important part of the history of education in Shetland.



Mike Finnie SHETLAND (1990) p31. James W Irvine LERWICK (1985) p165, plate 42. Thomas Manson LERWICK DURING THE LAST HALF CENTURY (1991) p4 and 165. John Gifford HIGHLANDS AND ISLANDS (1992) p489.

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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