Design Awards 2015
Annandale Distillery, near Annan
Fiona Sinclair Architect
Winner: Design Award
First operational in 1830, Annandale Distillery was acquired in the late 1890s by John Walker and Sons Ltd. Investing heavily in the machinery, the company commissioned improvement proposals from architect Charles Doig, whose iconic “pagoda” style kiln ventilator appears on distilleries across Scotland. By 1919, however, with the economic and social consequences of WW1 being felt, the distillery was mothballed and then partly demolished to extricate the valuable plant. From 1924 until 2007 the remaining buildings were used for grain drying, storage, and cattle.
Category ‘B’ listed and featured on the Buildings at Risk Register, the complex was eventually bought by a Dumfries-born whisky enthusiast and his wife. With the buildings insufficiently large for use as a modern distillery, plans were put in place to underpin the original mash house and mill room and create two subterranean basements for washbacks and tank storage. Archaeological excavations established the location of the original tun room around the remains of which a new stone-built, sedum-roofed boiler house and filling store were curved; the new (locally manufactured) steam boiler being flued through an existing brick-built chimney that was fully restored.
Roofs were for the most part replaced on the maltings, kiln, mash house, still house and bonded warehouses, with salvaged Welsh and Cumbrian slate throughout. The pagoda kiln ventilator was substantially rebuilt and clad in lead, and new timber doors and windows made to match the originals (including bespoke iron-forged hinges). New timbers (principally larch and Douglas Fir) were left untreated in anticipation that the small retail centre will one day return to use as a working maltings. One building – the mash house – presented complex water-management issues (including the re-routing of the lade supply pipe) and had to be dismantled and re-built. The shortfall in stone was made up through contributions from two nearby country estates (and a demolished Glasgow picture house), resulting in the completed buildings using salvaged sandstone from Corsehill, Creca, Carlisle and Castlemilk.
The project was on site for three-and-a-half years, underlining the complexity of the process and a construction programme developed around the need to build in large items of distillation plant as walls and roofs were undergoing restoration.