File Reference: AMH/5012/1/1
Date of Visit: 24 November 2010

Architect’s Report: Graeme F. Bell


This unroofed and ruinous distillery erected in the 1770’s sits on the north shore of the Forth Estuary, between Kincardine and Clackmannan and formed part of a large industrial complex supplying malt spirit to the gin and whisky industries.

To the south west of the distillery a large warehouse or bond also survives. Between the two buildings, to the immediate east, a natural confluence of a local burn has been modified where former piers and timber jetty were created to serve the transport needs of the facility. The timber pier remains in upright stubs in the mouth of the confluence. Fragmentary masonry remains of inner piers on the west bank.

This report will deal primarily with the distillery building, being that which requires more urgent attention. That been said it would be prudent, at the warehouse, to consider installing some precast concrete lintels in window/door apertures where the former timber safe lintels have rotted out. At the distillery the owner applicants have started a programme of selective vegetation removal to deal with rampant ivy growth and self seeded saplings in and around the structure. This should continue where possible in a careful and organised manner.

The distillery currently appears as a large 2/3 storey rectangular building reduced at wall heads to window lintel levels and currently supporting large colonisations of ivy particularly on the west and south elevations. These growths of ivy restrict the ability to identify the condition of much of the structure where it is covered and continued removal of ivy will need to progress carefully to allow fuller assessment of the structure. However from initial inspection the building appears to have been erected in phases as evidenced by the vertical risband joints (un-bonded masonry) which run through the building. The layout of the building therefore suggests a large central block, square in plan of 3 bays, ( with a rectangular planned engine room in the NE corner). To its south, a block of two storeys, in a single bay, but with two internal spaces and to the north a large square plan building of three bays but extending eastwards from a risband joint on the north elevation. This eastern part of this block is ‘L’ shaped in plan. The build is predominantly grey/red sandstone in coursed and squared rubble with ashlar dressings. Traces of harl appear on the upstanding south wall of the south block.

A number of mature trees have established close to the monument on its north west corner and in the internal angle between the central and north block on the east side outside the engine room. In addition smaller self seeded trees colonise interior spaces and at the south block.

The following work is required to bring the building fabric into an acceptable condition for grant purposes.


The applicants should now submit detailed proposals incorporating all of the recommendations set out below, including costs, for all proposed repair works itemised according to the sub-paragraph numbering of this report. A copy of the contract drawings and specifications, tender report, priced tender will be required for approval by HS before work can proceed. These scheme details will form the basis of the approved scheme.


Continued cutting back of ivy should proceed up to head height however higher
levels can only be reached by secure scaffolds giving safe access to high levels.
Particular care should be taken at high wallhead levels. The masonry here may have
been disturbed by the ivy and there is a possibility of loose masonry being supported by vigorous ivy stems or roots particularly at wallhead areas. On completion of the vegetation removal a further assessment of the structure will be required to identify further repair needs previously concealed.

1.1 Continue to remove ivy, from the fabric of the monument. The density of the
growth on the walls is such that cutting back to within 300mm of the wall surfaces
can be achieved thus removing some 900 mm depth of growth. This should
expose the masonry surface and a series of horizontal and vertical cuts through
the remaining stems attached to the masonry, in a grid pattern of 500mm
spacing, using secateurs, will ensure that most sources of moisture feeding the
ivy will have been cut off. Similar methodology should be employed using secure
scaffolds to allow safe access at high levels. This will expose those areas of
active growth which have their root systems established in the core of the walls
and thus indicate areas where applications of systemic herbicides should be
applied. Where ivy is rooted into the masonry this should be left to die back
entirely and on no account should attempts be made to pull roots out of the

1.2 Larger ivy roots at the base of the monument should be carefully cut through
removing a 300mm section of the root. Cutting back the bark to provide a frill
girdle will allow the application of herbicide paste to the stump, which should
ensure die back. Herbicide pastes must be used in strict accordance with
manufactures instructions and Health and Safety precautions. If herbicides
cannot be used on the site an alternative would be to hammer copper nails into
the root stumps which will kill the growth but at a slower pace.

1.3 Large roots, which are embedded into the masonry, should be left to die back.
No attempt to dig roots out from the masonry should be undertaken.

1.4 The tree saplings growing within the monument should all be cut down to within 300mm of the ground level. Frilling the bark on the remaining stumps and
applying herbicide pastes or copper nailing as described above in item 1.2
should be undertaken. Under no account pull up roots of the saplings as this will
have implications for underlying archaeology. Roots must be left to die back and
rot away naturally.

1.5 Mature trees should be taken down in sections by a professional tree surgeon
lowering limbs to the ground rather than felling. Particular care will be need
where the tree is deeply embedded in the masonry on the south wall of the north
block at the engine room. Again lowering in sections will be required after which
poisoning should be the course of action which should see the embedded stump
rot away.


Working from the north end of the structure the following repairs are required and
should be tackled on a phased basis making best use of scaffolds when erected.

North Wall of North Block

The western end of the northern block has seen some significant collapse at its mid
section where a number of structural openings have formerly existed. The wallhead
has collapsed leaving the remains of window opening to the west and a stub of
masonry between that and a much larger opening on the east side. The stub is clad
in ivy restricting view of the underlying masonry. Ground lines are covered over in
significant amounts of masonry tumble from the collapses. The ground level opening has a cracked lintel at its west bearing which is supporting open jointed masonry
above. The wallhead at the NW corner is supporting ivy and the mid section wallhead is supporting a topping of fine grasses. Where this is providing a good level of wall head protection it should remain, otherwise rough racking should be employed to protect the wall heads to ensure that rainwater is shed appropriately. Closer inspection from safe scaffolds will be required to determine the level of works required here. The upper masonry courses of the mid section of the block shows wash out of mortar beds and will generally need repointed after consolidating the wallhead. To the east of the mid section a large section of masonry wall has collapsed. Brick infill repairs here seem sound but upper exposed courses should be checked at high levels. The two mature trees mentioned in the introduction should be removed in accordance with 1.5 above.

2.1 At the lintel to the ground floor opening insert a non ferrous metal stub into
masonry bed joints at its west bearing to support the cracked lintel. Consolidate the voids in the open jointed masonry above by tamping with a lime mortar and pinning with small pieces of stone. Keep the finished face of this repair set back 25mm from the outer face of original masonry.

2.2 Generally selectively tamp voids in masonry, insert new stone pinnings and
repoint in appropriate lime mortars.

2.3 After close inspection of the exposed wall heads seal the wall heads by rough
racking using rubble masonry to match the wall core as closely as possible. The
rough racking and pointing should be profiled in such way that rainwater will be shed off the wallhead and ensuring that no pockets are formed where water could pond (and ultimately lead to breakdown of the repair works). Soft topping of the wall heads may be considered using clay, soil and turf but care should be taken with locations for turfing with regard to the proximity of mature trees and the risk of saplings reseeding.

East Wall of North Block

The east wall is complete to two storey wallhead level. One upper large window and smaller squarer window are bricked up and wallhead courses are generally open at the NE corner. Otherwise the general external face of the walling appears sound with the exception of some voids in base courses. The SE corner of the block here is clad in ivy which will require removal.

2.4 As necessary consolidate wall heads by rough racking and filling minor voids with stone pinnings.

2.5 Selectively rake out joints, tamp with lime mortar and stone pinnings and point up voids in base courses.

2.6 Remove ivy as described above at section 1.

South return wall of North Block

The elevation of two bays here is largely concealed by ivy and also has a mature tree embedded into the masonry. This tree is embedded in low remains of masonry and brickwork in the internal angle of the eastern end of the north block and the east face of the central block. The removal of this tree will require a delicate operation to ensure that the historic fabric is disturbed as little as possible. Using the services of a professional tree surgeon, the tree should be taken down in sections with limbs being lowered to the ground rather than felling. It is likely that a large section of the basal stump will have to be left in situ and poisoned so that it rots away allowing easier removal. This will take a number of years and the process will require regular monitoring and potentially re applications of herbicides to ensure that no regeneration of the stump takes place.
Some of the masonry and brick work will require consolidation to fill in voids and
stabilise the fabric.

2.7 Remove ivy as described above and consolidate wallhead with rough racking or
soft topping if appropriate as necessary.

2.8 Employ the services of a reputable tree surgeon and seek method statements for the removal of the tree which is embedded in the masonry. Extreme care will be
required on the down taking to avoid damage to the historic fabric.

East Wall of Central Block

A dense growth of ivy colonises the northern section of the wall here which conceals a paired window opening, at first floor level and upper single window aperture at wallhead level. These windows serve the engine room. The wallhead and lintel are missing at upper level. The paired window opening has its original internal timber lintel but it is close to being rotted out and the masonry above being supported by a slender brick and masonry mullion must be a risk. Close inspection by a structural engineer, from safe scaffolds, will be required to fully inform structural condition and repair proposals. It is likely that the replacement of the inner lintel will be necessary.Wall heads in this location should be inspected for repairs when ivy is removed.

The lintel at the ground floor window is broken through at its north-most bearing
point. From here, the masonry above is also cracked up to the cill of the window
above where open joints in the masonry indicate structural movement. The majority of the wall head is reduced to cill level of the third storey windows. Open joints in the masonry here is to be expected due to wash out and consolidation by rough racking will be necessary. Some voids exist around the cill and lintel of the upper windows.

Base course masonry has been robbed out below the southern window of this block
and intervention to close up the resultant void will be necessary to secure the

2.9 After the careful removal of vegetation closely inspect the structural condition and stability of the timber lintels and supported masonry at the window openings.
Insertion of new concrete lintels would be appropriate to replace failing original
timbers where necessary.

2.10 Repoint open joints and voids in the upper masonry courses at wallhead.

2.11 Rough rack wall heads where necessary.

2.12 Pack and pin up voids in base courses using stone, keeping the face of the
repair work 25mm back from original wall lines.

East Wall of South Block

The east wall of the south block abuts the central block in a risband joint for much of its height. There is a marked difference in the quality of the built masonry where the lower 9 courses are in large rectangular ashlar blocks whereas above the build
reverts to a coursed and squared rubble primarily with dressed work restricted to
quoins and window dressings. The lower courses are generally tightly built with only selective repointing necessary, the upper rubble work has more voids needing
pinning and pointing. A square window at mid height in the build is bricked up in the depth of the reveals. Wall heads will require close inspection but from ground levels they seem sound. Ivy growth at the junction with the central block should be

At the SE corner the lowest base course appears to have dropped slightly evidenced by the wider bed joint. This may be related to the significant cracking on the south
elevation, (see below).

2.13 Infill the voids in the coursed rubble masonry using smaller stones bedded in an appropriate lime mortar ensuring that the finished face of the repair is set back as
described above in 2.12.

2.14 Selectively repoint open joints using appropriate lime mortars, (based on
analysis of original mortar sample taken from the monument.

South Wall of South Block

Only half of the south wall of this block stands to its two storey height. Much of its western edge is covered in ivy and a significant crack rises from the base courses at the SE corner continuing (presumably) to the concealed wallhead levels. The crack
at its widest is in the region of 40 -50 mm. A square window aperture at mid height
in the build is bricked up. There is also a relieving arch at lower levels but this is
partially concealed by masonry tumble and imported overburden. The remains of an
iron boat are buried in this overburden. Build is generally similar to the east wall
however remnants of a harl finish can be seen on the mid section of the build. The
western half of the south wall is reduced to low remains.

2.19 Selectively pin up and repoint where pinnings are being lost.

2.20 Insert non ferrous metal stitchers across the crack to tie both sides of the
masonry together. Infill the crack with a lime mortar and small pieces of stone.
Monitoring the crack for further movement is advisable and should be achieved by
installing brass studs in sets of 3 across the crack so that vertical and rotational
movement can be measured between the studs recorded. Recording should be
carried out regularly over an 18 month period to allow for seasonal variations.

West Wall of South Block

This external wall is reduced to low masonry remains encroached upon by ground
vegetation and self seeded saplings.

2.21 Clear away ground vegetation to expose low masonry walls for further
assessment on consolidation needs.

West Wall of Central Block

This section of the building stands to its full three storey height in three bays. The
wall supports a very mature colonisation of ivy concealing much of the masonry
fabric. At ground level two segmental arched openings exist at the southern end of
the block. The south-most arch has been disturbed shown by a dropping of the key
stone and a crack above leading off diagonally through the masonry towards the 1st floor window apertures.

Mature trees have been taken down here and the stumps remain.

2.22 Slate wedges and mortar should be placed into the joints at the keystone to the south-most arch to secure its position. The extent of the cracking rising from this arch should be fully identified after vegetation removal. The crack should be
monitored and pointed up as described above at item 2.20.

2.23 Cut down tree stumps to ground level at this elevation and poison the stumps to inhibit further growth. Remove all cut timber waste off site.

West Wall of North Block

The west wall of the north block abuts the central block in a risband joint. The build is generally large coursed and squared blocks with ashlar work restricted to quoins and window/door dressings. The wall supports heavy ivy growth. At the north-most opening lintels have been lost at ground and upper levels, beyond which cracking
through the masonry rises to window apertures above. Much of the masonry here is
concealed by ivy so care should be taken when investigating from scaffolds to avoid disturbing loose stones.

2.24 Install non ferrous metal stubs into masonry joints to support broken lintels.

2.25 Treat cracks as described at item 2.20 above.


General Points

Generally removal of ivy is required to allow inspection of concealed masonry. It can be assumed that all wall heads will require sealing with rough racking or soft toppingwhere the risk of re-seeding from neighbouring trees is very low. Open jointed masonry should be repointed with appropriate lime mortars and larger voids filled with new stone pinnings tamped in lime mortar ensuring that the finished face of the repair work is set back 25mm from the line of the original wall surfaces. Care should be taken to ensure former beam holes are left exposed for identification of former structure lines. Where sound plaster fragments remain the edges should be pointed up with a softer lime mortar to seal broken edges. Specific areas of attention are listed below;

North Block West space.

A deep build-up of tumble from masonry collapse and deposited overburden is piled
against the north wall. Upper courses of masonry shows open joints and wall heads
will have to be sealed. Significant areas of plaster survive and these should be edge pointed sealing broken edges where sound plaster is adhering to the masonry. On
the NW corner cracked masonry through wall and window embrasures will need
stitching to consolidate the remaining masonry fabric. On the west wall remains of
timber beams are hanging within the depth of the ivy colonisation. These should be
carefully taken down and set aside as part of the vegetation removal programme.

North Block East space.

The east wall here has a number of openings which have been bricked up. In some
of these brick blockings consolidation will be required to fill voids and open joint work.
At ground level a doorway in the NE corner has had its lintels robbed out. Similarly,
central doorways in the south wall and east wall have lost their lintels. New lintels
will have to be inserted to secure the historic fabric here. A larger first floor opening in the east wall will require additional support in the form of non ferrous stubs to support masonry at former lintel level where these have been lost. This technique should also be employed in the north wall where door lintels are missing. Here the masonry above has since collapsed but has formed a natural arching. Localised insertion of non ferrous metal stubs to secure this masonry from further collapse should be carried out.

Central Block.

On the east wall cracking through the masonry is evident between the ground and
first floor north-most windows. This is related to the cracked lintel of the ground floor window as described in section 2 above (East Wall Central Block). Additional support for this lintel will be necessary as described at 2.11. A significantly larger cracking through masonry occurs in the south wall where former openings at ground level have been blocked with rubble masonry but lintels again are lost and masonry above up to a former window at wallhead level is cracked through suggesting some level of lateral or rotational movement of the walling. A mature colonisation of ivy covers the upper half of the 3 storey wall here and this conceals a significant amount of plaster finishes.

Central Block Engine Room.

A significant feature of the central block is the engine room enclosure in the NE
corner. The south wall of the enclosure facing into the central space is built of high
quality finely jointed broached ashlar over two storeys, with segmental arches
supporting a thicker build of coursed rubble walling above. The third storey level of
the walling reverts to coursed and squared rubble which retains fragments of plaster finishes. This walling contains a number of openings, two square openings having rebated jambs and lintels presumably to receive hatches or doors. An arched
doorway exists to the east of these openings. The central key stone has dropped
slightly and should be wedged in place to avoid further movement. Lower smaller
apertures appear to relate to the levels of the masonry engine bases inside the
enclosure. Internally the engine room space is enclosed on all sides by 3 storey
masonry walls. The north wall has a risband joint between the west and east spaces of the north block suggesting a phased build here. The internal engine room space
has been plastered at some point and fragments remain. The upstanding building
archaeology is extremely interesting and would benefit from fuller assessment when the fabric is cleared of vegetation. The east wall with its paired window openings and failing timber inner lintels should be consolidated as a priority in the first phase of works.

Figures should also be provided for the following costs expressed in terms of a
percentage of the total grant eligible costs for works identified above:-

3.1 Contract preliminaries

3.2 Contingencies

3.3 VAT on works

3.4 Professional fees

3.5 VAT on professional fees.


Prioritised work should attend to areas on the monument where structural stability of the masonry is at risk. A general site clearance of vegetation and clearance, under archaeological supervision, of the numerous stones scattered around the distillery should be uplifted and stored discretely on the site taking care to avoid confusing the interpretation of the monument. The archaeologist involved must be approved by HS and the project outline must be agreed by HS prior to any works commencing on site. There should be no disturbance of existing ground levels unless a programme of archaeological investigation has been agreed with HS. Securing these areas as a first phase including site clearance of vegetation and gathering of fallen masonry would allow further phases of programmed consolidation of the monument.


It is accepted that unforeseen works may sometimes be necessary. Any additional
works must be clearly identified and agreed with Historic Scotland’s architect before being included in the scheme.

GRAEME F. BELL                                                                                                             HS ARCHITECT
8 February 2011


There are a number of significant structural cracks in the various sections of the
building. At present these are most notable at the following locations:

Vertical cracks along a line on the walls perpendicular to the east wall – on
the south wall, the south wall of the central block, the south wall of the
engine room and the risband joint on the north side of the engine room;

A vertical crack in the east wall of the central block running up between the
ground and upper floor windows;

A diagonal crack going up from the arched south opening on the west side
of the central block; and

Vertical cracking at the window line on the north end of the west wall of the
north block where the movement has caused the lintels to break and fall out.

In some areas there are cracked lintels and dropped keystones, more minor cracking
elsewhere and missing safe lintels leaving some sections of masonry in a potentially vulnerable condition.

Interestingly, John Hume’s pictures in SCRAN and dated November 1974, taken
from the south, show some of these cracks but also some sections of wall which
have collapsed in the intervening period.

The scale of the cracks and the extent of the loss of safe lintels is such that the
general stability of the various sections of the building should be assessed by a
(conservation) Structural Engineer who needs to consider areas of temporary
propping required to allow work to proceed safely and longer term structural repairs to secure the building as the vegetation clearance and general repairs/consolidation proceed.

John C Turner

Senior Engineer
Historic Scotland
15 February 2011