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Annan Townscape Heritage Initiative

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Dumfries and Galloway Council and Scottish Enterprise Dumfries and Galloway have jointly funded a conservation led regeneration project in Annan called Annan Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI).  A sum of £890,000 from these organisations was placed in a common fund for the restoration and repair of selected buildings in the town centre as well as the improvement of some of the public spaces.  Solway Heritage co-ordinated the bid to the HLF on behalf of the Council and also manage the Initiative.
The overall aim of Annan THI is, through conservation, to regenerate the historic centre and help secure a viable economic future for the town. The character of the centre is shaped by the quality and diversity of its older buildings.  In recent years changes in the local economy have led to low levels of investment and many of these buildings have fallen into varying levels of disrepair and redundancy.  By investing in the built heritage the THI helps preserve and enhance the historic character of Annan and stimulates further regeneration to a high conservation standard. 
Through grants to historic buildings, the project is restoring confidence and strengthening Annan’s position as a commercially viable centre, reducing the amount of under-used and empty buildings as well as providing an attractive built and landscaped environment for the benefit of residents and visitors.

The Townscape Heritage Initiative Programme is promoted by the Heritage Lottery Fund and further details of this programme can be viewed on their site by clicking here.

Specific Projects

Bridge House

Following a lengthy sale process, the new owner of Bridge House, DS Properties, has been offered £100,000 towards the cost of restoring this significant historic landmark building.

Bridge House is one of the finest Georgian town houses in the South of Scotland and of critical importance to Annan due to its rich history and strategic location near the Bridge.

Built in 1780, Bridge House was originally to be called the Queensberry Hotel but in the 1790’s the building was sold to the Town Council to house the new academy, also referred to as the ‘Old Grammar School’ or ‘Old Academy’.  During it’s time as an academy, Edward Irving (radical preacher) and Thomas Carlyle (writer) were pupils there.  Carlyle returned briefly as a teacher of mathematics and recorded memories of it in his books Sartor Resartus and Reminiscences.

The new owner has begun to restore the building to its most recent use as a house and small shop.  This will fortunately mean that the interior can largely be retained in its original condition.

Public Realm

The THI funded work on the public spaces in front of the Town and around the War Memorial.  This work involved laying traditional materials, including restoring and re-laying some of the original surfacing.

Partners of the THI were delighted when excavations revealed a long hidden historical treasure, a large brass ring which was laid to mark the completion of an earlier phase of street paving.

By the early 1880s the streets of Annan were in poor condition, not only had the increased traffic caused wear and tear on the surface but the recently laid drains and water pipes had added to the damage.  The provost, John Nicholson, set about the task of raising funds though public subscription from townspeople both home and abroad as well as landed gentry in the neighbourhood.

The whole of the street was laid with setts with kerbstones along the sides and stone flags or concrete on the pavements.  The works were started on 20th September, 1882 and were completed within a year at a total cost of £3,500.

On the 20th September, 1883 the town council and inhabitant of Annan celebrated the completion of the works by holding a Riding of the Marches, at that time a rare event which was only organised to celebrate special occasions.  The provost laid the final sett within a brass ring with the inscription “John Nicholson, Provost, 1883” on the site of the old market cross in front of the Town Hall.

Partners in the THI are delighted to have been able to encorporate this historic feature into the recent surfacing.

War Memorial

The area around the War Memorial was chosen as a priority area for the second and third phases of work on the public spaces of Annan Town Centre.  This work has recently been completed and has provided safe and free movement for both pedestrians and vehicles as well as enhancing the setting for the War Memorial.

Erected in 1921, the war memorial is a bronze soldier modelled on a local farm worker who had served in the First World War.  It stands on a white granite plinth and provides a central feature for the open space and a focal point in the town.  The war memorial helps to define and divide an irregular space used for car parking adjacent to the main street.

The design involved removing parking spaces from adjacent to the memorial, resurfacing with Caithness flags and whin setts, and removing some bollards to reduce clutter in the area.  During the excavation of the parking area the setts laid in the 1860s were revealed and retained to increase the heritage character of the area.

The War Memorials Trust, a charity that works for the protection and conservation of war memorials in the UK, is delighted with the project.

Although the THI public realm improvements are now complete Dumfries and Galloway Council hope to continue the good work by exposing setts and relaying pavements to the same standard in other parts of the town.

Hann and Co, 1-3 Bridgend

Work is complete to the exterior of 1-3 Bridgend.  This involved conservation work to the slate roof, rainwater goods, stonework, windows, doors and shop front.  George Hann, the owner, is very pleased with the quality of workmanship and overall improvements to the appearance of his property.

He said "I am very grateful for the support of Solway Heritage in our Restoration project. Without their help and the skilled craftsmen from William Waugh and Son this would not have been possible.  I would encourage other property owners in the town to seriously consider upgrading their properties as I am sure it will make a great difference to the overall prosperity of the Town of Annan in due course.  We have a rich heritage of architecture to protect for future posterity.  Hann & Co were grateful for the opportunity to preserve such a prominent building. "

Annan THI Introductory Leaflet

Click Here

Annan THI Property Grant Leaflet

Click Here

Annan THI Eligible Repairs Leaflet

Click Here

The treatment of older buildings require traditional skills.  More information on these skills can be found on Dumfries and Galloway Council's website and may be of further interest to you:


For information on some of the projects the THI has supported please click below

For more information on Annan, visit the Annan Online website, maintained by Annan Initiative.

Work begins at Bridge House - March 2010

The re-positioned brass ring

The area around the war memorial - past

The area around the war memorial - present

Work is complete at Hann and Co, Bridgend