New lease of life planned for 16th-century building

Wallace Tower could be turned into a community hub featuring a café and office space.

New lease of life planned for 16th-century building Contributed

Plans have been unveiled to transform one of the oldest buildings in Aberdeen into a thriving community centre.

Wallace Tower, in Seaton Park, Tillydrone, was built in 1588, and has been used as a pub, a shop and even the home of a local councillor, but has lain derelict for 27 years.

The tower, or Benholm’s Lodge as it’s also known, was moved to its current site brick-by-brick in the 1960s from St Nicholas Street in the city centre during a Marks & Spencer redevelopment.

A community trust now wants to turn the empty building – which is said to remain in good structural condition – into a local hub, featuring a café and office space.

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Colin McFadyen, from the Tillydrone Community Development Trust, said: “We’d like to turn the ground floor into a community café and the middle floor will be a conference space.

“Over the past year, we’ve been speaking with architects and quantity surveyors to really quantify what’s needed for this project.

“The planning application has been submitted and now we have to wait for the council and hope they give us permission to move forwards.”

The tower was built by Sir Robert Keith, the younger brother of Earl Marischal, who founded Marischal College in Aberdeen.

Community trust member Linda Barclay, who has lived in the area for 50 years, would love to see the building restored to its former glory.

“I can see this from my window and I just think it’s so sad to see it like this,” she said.

“My grandfather was one of the spirit merchants in the tower, so this building does have a family link for me.

“I really think this development will create so many different opportunities.”

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