A Little Bit of History

Colinsburgh, 50 Main Street, Galloway Library Including Boundary Walls

Description: Colinsburgh, 50 Main Street, Galloway Library Including Boundary Walls

Category: B
Date Listed: 2 September 2009
Historic Scotland Building ID: 51354

Latitude/Longitude: 56.2300, -4.4400

Charles Davidson of Paisley, 1903 (dated). Well-detailed single storey and attic, 3-bay library and flatted dwelling closing irregular terrace to E, with Scots Baronial and Wrenaissance references combining to make an important and unusual contribution to Colinsburgh’s Main Street. Interior contains rare retention of little-altered reading room. Squared and snecked bull-faced rubble with polished ashlar dressings. Moulded cill course, deep frieze and cornice forming attic cill course and eaves course. Pedimented, barrel-vaulted porch with columns flanking Gibbsian doorpiece under heavily mutuled cornice; segmentally-arched and oculus windows, stone-balustraded balcony between corbelled roundels, keystone and relieving arch. Stone and timber transoms and mullions.
FURTHER DESCRIPTION: asymmetrical elevations. Entrance elevation to S with balconied gabled bay projecting at left; porch in re-entrant angle at centre with steps up to broad 2-leaf panelled timber door below relief carved `GALLOWAY LIBRARY’ and dated cartouche in semicircular pediment; 6-light transomed window to right.

Multi-pane glazing patterns over 2-pane and plate glass lower sashes in timber sash and case windows. Grey slates with terracotta ridge tiles. Banded and coped ashlar stacks with clay cans. Ashlar-coped skews and flat skewputts. Cast iron downpipes with decorative fixings.

INTERIOR: much good interior detail retained including ribbed and vaulted ceilings, decorative cornicing, good joinery work including architraved and pedimented doorpieces, timber panelling and boarded dadoes. Timber fire surrounds with tiled cheeks and cast iron grates, brass door furniture and coat hooks. Porch with decoratively-tiled floor and walls, 2-leaf screen door. Boarded timber toilet cubicle with Shanks & Co china basin and timber seat. Panelled reading room with timber fire surround and cast iron grate, clock in pediment over door.

BOUNDARY WALLS: dwarf saddleback-coped squared rubble and high random rubble boundary walls.


This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.


John Gifford The Buildings of Scotland Fife (1992), p128. Glen Pride The Kingdom of Fife An Illustrated Architectural Guide (1990), p173. http://www.scottisharchitects.org.uk [accessed 11.06.09]. A H Millar Fife Pictorial and Historical Vol 2 Kilconquhar Parish (1895), p13. Information courtesy of Colinsburgh Library User’s Group.


The Galloway Library is prominently sited on Colinsburgh’s largely vernacular Main Street, contrasting with the more common dark whinstone and colourwashed buildings.

Dated 1903, this is a high quality and well-detailed building which is an important part of Colinsburgh’s streetscape. It retains its original library function and as a consequence is remarkably intact and contains good quality joinerywork and a number of fireplaces. Arts and Crafts influence can be found in the brass door furniture.

Colinsburgh was made a burgh of barony in 1686. It is named after its founder, Colin the 3rd Earl of Balcarres. The Library User’s Group note that ‘The Library was built as part of the Thomas Carstairs Galloway bequest. ‘ Galloway was a linen merchant who died at the turn of the century and left a large trust to the village of Colinsburgh ‘ The money for the trust was invested in railways and coal’. Thomas Galloway’s bequest ‘was to build and maintain the library and provide a librarian and caretaker who lived upstairs’. The library is now run by Fife Council and the caretaker’s flat was sold into private ownership in 1992. The Galloway Trust is currently (2009) planning to appoint new trustees.

The architect Charles Davidson worked almost exclusively in the Paisley area. He was born in Forfar and is thought to have been an assistant in Peddie and Kinnear’s Edinburgh office until 1875 when he went to Paisley to work on the National Bank and Bank of Scotland. Davidson set up his own practice in Paisley in 1880.

The 2009 postal address for the whole building is No 50 Main Street, but the number on the library door is 48.

Source: Historic Scotland

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.

The Galloway Library in Colinsburgh was built in 1903, at the bequest of Thomas Carstairs Galloway, a rich linen merchant, He was born in Kilconquhar, Fife, in 1846, and died at the beginning of the 20th century. He left a large Trust fund to the village. The money from the Trust was to be invested in railways and coal, and to be used to build a public library for Colinsburgh, and to provide for a librarian/caretaker who would live upstairs.

The Galloway Library in Colinsburgh, Fife


The library was still in use in 2009, at which point it was run by Fife Council. In 2013, Fife Council put all of Fife’s libraries into the control of the Fife Cultural Trust, and then slashed the funding to the Trust!!! The Trust has since been seeking ways of saving money, and this includes the closure of 16 of Fife’s libraries. Diana Jackson, whos website is https://dianamj.wordpress.com/ , has been actively campaigning to save Kinghorn Library in Fife, I believe they have succeeded in setting up a community project to run the library themselves 🙂

Getting back to the Galloway Library in Colinsburgh, it appears that it has been turned into a private residence, at some point over the last 18 months 😦

Whilst checking up on this, I found a Fife Council document dated 24th October, 2007, that states

“The Galloway Trust provides funds towards, amongst other things, the Galloway Library in Colinsburgh, bursaries for the local school, and poor relief for residents of the Colinsburgh area. The original trustees are no longer in existence and the Council has administered the trust for many years. The proposal is to ask the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) to reconstitute the trust in a way that allows joint community and Council membership on it.”