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This building is in the Shetland Islands Council and the Lerwick Burgh. It is a category B building and was listed on 18/10/1977.

Group Items: N/A, Group Cat: N/A, Map Ref: HU 4745 4146.


David Rhind of Edinburgh, 1874-5. Irregular complex of single and 2-storey Scots Baronial buildings comprising single storey and attic L-plan entrance building (former Zetland County Police station) to S, clasping 2-storey court building in re-entrant angle to NE; single storey link at W to single storey council offices to N. L-plan police station (former Governor?s House) to E, with single storey gabled infill in re-entrant angle to SE; 2-storey 4-bay prison block linked at N end of police building by stair tower with single storey porch projecting at ground. Stugged squared and snecked sandstone ashlar walls with droved ashlar dressings and details. Major buildings with bases courses, curved corners, chamfered arrises and shallow pointed-arched lintels to windows.

ENTRANCE BUILDING, COURTHOUSE, AND COUNCIL OFFICES: S ELEVATION: asymmetrical; 4-bay elevation, centre bays advanced, 6-panel 2-leaf timber entrance door at ground in bay to left of centre, datestone above with stepped hoodmould. Gabled bay above; bipartite windows in flanking bays, chimneygable in bay at right, dormer with crowstepped stone dormerhead breaking eaves in bay at left. Gabled bay recessed at outer right.

W ELEVATION: windows in centre bay, that at 1st floor breaking eaves with crowstepped stone dormerhead, flanking bays gabled; blank at right, 2 small windows at ground in gable to left with large stair window centred above. Single storey, 2-bay link extending to left, W elevation of courthouse rising behind with single window at centre, breaking eaves with crowstepped stone dormerhead. Symmetrical single storey 3-bay office to left of link, centre bay advanced and gabled with paired windows at centre, and windows in flanking bays.

E ELEVATION: 2-storey 3-bay near-symmetrical courthouse with 2-bay end elevation of entrance building extending to left. Modern door centred at ground, window in bay to right offset to left, large regularly spaced windows at 1st floor. Entrance building extending to left, blank bay at left, window at 1st floor in bay to right breaking eaves in crowstepped stone dormerhead with wallhead stack adjacent to left.

N ELEVATION: 2-bay gable end of courthouse to left, large windows in each bay at 1st floor, blank gable end of office advanced at right.

POLICE STATION AND PRISON; S ELEVATION: 2-bay elevation comprising gabled 2-storey bay at left with lean-to entrance porch to outer left connecting to courthouse, single storey infill with single central window in bay to right.

E ELEVATION: 2-bay asymmetrical elevation of police station to left, left bay gabled with door centred at ground, 2-storey gable in right bay with paired windows at ground, and single window centred above. 2-storey stair tower recessed at right, single storey flat-roofed entrance porch (circa 1960) projecting at ground with window to left and door to right, segmental-arched stair window with iron bars centred in tower behind, corbel table staggered over lintel with small segmental-arched window to left. 4-bay prison building slightly advanced to left comprising vertically-boarded timber doors at ground in bays to left of centre, cell windows with curvilinear lintels in bays to right, corbel table at 1st floor, regularly fenestrated bays with segmental-arched cell windows.

N ELEVATION: wide gable end of jail building; ground floor obscured by later cement-rendered and lined garage building, corbel table articulated around segmental-arched window centred at 1st floor, matching window in gablehead above, both with iron bars.

Predominantly 4-pane timber sash and case windows, modern at 1st floor and stair of courthouse, some 8-pane to police station. 6-pane timber sash and case window to prison stair; cast-iron multi-pane cell windows. Purple-grey slate roof; decorative brattishing to ridge of courthouse. Cast-iron gutters and downpipes with decorative hoppers (dated 1875) and brackets. Stugged and corniced ashlar stacks with circular cans; ashlar crowstepped skew copes, some with ball or wrought-iron finials at apex.

INTERIOR: grey marble slab chimneypiece, 4-panel doors, panelled shutters and coved plaster ceiling in County Hall. Boarded ceiling in County Clerk?s office. Stone stair with cast-iron balusters and timber handrail accessing courtroom. Most fittings surviving in Court Room, including bench, witness box, jury box, dock, public bench and press bench, all in panelled pine. Judges? chair front 3-centred arched niche; oak table bearing initials ?VR? in well of court. Vertically-boarded timber wainscoting, panelled shutters, architraved doors, coved and coffered ceiling. Stone prison stair with plain balusters and timber handrail.

BOUNDARY WALLS: stugged ashlar retaining wall to Market and King Erik Streets; ashlar cope surmounted by wrought-iron rails with decorative cast-iron balusters. Square stugged ashlar gatepiers with polished ashlar bases and pyramidal caps; wrought-iron lamp bracket oversailing S gate and stone steps. High random rubble wall with stugged ashlar cope to former prison yard, stugged and droved ashlar gatepiers to S with polished ashlar bases and pyramidal caps. Stepped random rubble walls with saddleback copes to E and W of N end of complex.


The architecture of this civic building is unusually low-key, but in his book of 1923, Manson states in his description of the opening celebrations that "a Court House and Prison are not exactly the class of building that the public can be expected to wax enthusiastic over; for the former stands for litigation, trial and sentence; the latter is frequently the home for a time of those who appear at the bar in the room above. But seeing that both are necessary, apparently, in this evil world, it is as well that they are erected in a style as prepossessing and unforbidding as possible. So at least thought those who forty-five years ago found that the erection of the new buildings was necessary". Despite this, the building?s effective massing produces a strong element in the group that includes the Town Hall and War Memorial (see separate listings). Similar elements of detailing can be seen in the rear elevation of Rhind?s County Buildings and Sheriff Courthouse in Selkirk of 1868-70. Old photographs show the prison yard with its high wall intact. A view S in 1903 shows traditional railings fronting the County Buildings with 2-leaf gates and cast-iron lamp standards with square lanterns.


Roderick Brown (Editor) THE ARCHITECTURAL OUTSIDERS (1985). Mike Finnie SHETLAND (1990) p27. James W Irvine LERWICK (1985) p253, plate 19. Norman Hudson SOUVENIR POSTCARDS FROM SHETLAND (1992) p17 and 20. John Gifford HIGHLANDS AND ISLANDS (1992) p489. Thomas Manson LERWICK DURING THE LAST HALF CENTURY (1991) p229.

© Crown copyright, Historic Scotland. All rights reserved. Mapping information derived from Ordnance Survey digital mapping products under Licence No. 100017509 2012 . Data extracted from Scottish Ministers' Statutory List on . Listing applies equally to the whole building or structure at the address set out in bold at the top of the list entry. This includes both the exterior and the interior, whether or not they are mentioned in the 'Information Supplementary to the Statutory List'. Listed building consent is required for all internal and external works affecting the character of the building. The local planning authority is responsible for determining where listed building consent will be required and can also advise on issues of extent or "curtilage" of the listing, which may cover items remote from the main subject of the listing such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. or interior fixtures. All category C(S) listings were revised to category C on 3rd September 2012. This was a non-statutory change. All enquiries relating to proposed works to a listed building or its setting should be addressed to the local planning authority in the first instance. All other enquiries should be addressed to: Listing & Designed Landscapes Team, Historic Scotland, Room G.51, Longmore House, Salisbury Place, EDINBURGH, EH9 1SH. Tel: +44 (0)131 668 8701 / 8705. Fax: +44 (0)131 668 8765. e-mail: hs.listing@scotland.gsi.gov.uk. Web: http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/historicandlistedbuildings.

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Buildings are assigned to one of three categories according to their relative importance. All listed buildings receive equal legal protection, and protection applies equally to the interior and exterior of all listed buildings regardless of category.

ACategory A

Buildings of national or international importance, either architectural or historic, or fine little-altered examples of some particular period, style or building type. (Approximately 8% of the total).

BCategory B

Buildings of regional or more than local importance, or major examples of some particular period, style or building type which may have been altered. (Approximately 51% of the total).

C(S)Category C(S)

Buildings of local importance, lesser examples of any period, style, or building type, as originally constructed or moderately altered; and simple traditional buildings which group well with others in categories A and B. (Approximately 41% of the total).