PRESS RELEASE: Council and Government must act on decaying grand Ayr station hotel

26th August 2020

Absentee owners must now sell the building. 

SAVE Britain’s Heritage today publishes a new report Ayr Station Hotel: the new journey asking the public to call for the restoration of Ayr’s category B listed landmark, as South Ayrshire Council launch a three week public consultation on the hotel’s future.

Marcus Binney, executive president of SAVE Britain’s Heritage says: “this is a splendid landmark in one of the loveliest resort towns in Scotland. A determined effort must be made to wrest it from its owners who cannot be contacted and whose agents do not respond to inquiries.”

SAVE’s report showcases the splendour of the hotel, opened in 1885 and built in a French Chateau cum Scottish baronial style. The report also illustrates numerous examples of grand station hotels which have been handsomely revived, including examples in Canada built to echo the splendours of Scottish architecture.

Mr Binney continues: “Scotland has the strongest and most effective powers in Britain to serve repairs orders and initiate compulsory purchase orders on neglected heritage properties. South Ayrshire Council, Historic Environment Scotland and Government ministers must use these powers to put a final stop to decay and start a revival”.

SAVE asks South Ayrshire Council and Network Rail for a two-year period to develop plans, costings and funding for a rescue plan.

SAVE is seeking support for a new building preservation trust to take on the hotel, initiate roof repairs and carry out phased renovation floor-by-floor. Network Rail has taken a welcome first step by proposing works to reopen the ticket office on the ground floor of the hotel’s north wing, and relocating temporary staff facilities to a new modular building.

In October 2019, the council finally received a full Structural Condition report from Mott MacDonald regarding the cost of restoring the Station Hotel building. The report estimated the total cost required to restore the building back to compliance with baseline Building Standards to be £9.95million. This figure is understood to be less that the estimated cost of possible demolition for a new-build station, an idea previously mooted by Network Rail and Transport Scotland in 2018. 

There is no doubt that the size of the hotel makes it a major challenge but SAVE has successfully initiated ventures on this scale before. One example near Ayr is Dumfries House where, in 2007, SAVE launched the initial £25million appeal to acquire the house, land and contents. SAVE had raised £19 million in pledges when HRH The Prince of Wales took over and completed the restoration project, which remains a huge success to this day.  

A second example is 18th century Wentworth Woodhouse in Yorkshire, one of the grandest and largest Georgian mansions in Britain. In 2014, with the house at risk of collapse, SAVE inaugurated a charitable trust, raised pledges of £7m for acquisition and took the initiative in securing central government support for roof repairs for the mansion and stable courtyard. This resulted in a £7million grant for full roof repairs which are now virtually complete.  

SAVE also played a leading role in preventing the demolition of Seafield House in Ayr, the former home of Sir William Arrol, the engineer contractor for the mighty Forth Bridge.

SAVE has initiated and championed rescue projects for numerous large historic buildings including Saltaire Mills near Bradford; the General Market at Smithfield, London; Peninsula Barracks, Winchester; the Royal Aircraft Establishment in Farnborough and Boathouse 4, Portsmouth, all multi-million pound projects needing funding.

The council’s three week public consultation on the future of the station hotel is now live, so make your voice heard HERE!

CLICK HERE to view SAVE’s responses. All views are anonymous, and the consultation closes on the 14th September 2020.


1. For more information contact Ben Oakley, conservation officer at SAVE Britain's Heritage – / 07388 181 181.

2. See here for the consultation website.

3. See here for SAVE's report

4. SAVE Britain's Heritage is a strong, independent voice in conservation that has been fighting for threatened historic buildings and sustainable reuses since 1975. We stand apart from other organisations by bringing together architects, engineers, planners and investors to offer viable alternative proposals. Where necessary, and with expert advice, we take legal action to prevent major and needless losses.    

5. See here for details on our current campaigns.