Elgin Museum


The Moray Society


LDN Architects

Background Information

Harper & Allan Masonry Ltd were awarded the contract for repair works to Elgin Museum in October 2017. Works commenced onsite in early November of the same year.

Elgin Museum opened in 1843, and is Scotland’s oldest independent museum. Elgin Museum remains independent, and is owned and managed by The Moray Society.
The design by architect, Thomas Mackenzie was chosen for the, now Category A listed, building.
In 1896, the Museum was extended and an extension was built to the rear, and in 1921, the Hall, was added.

The original scope of works allowed for raking and repointing the front façade and tower, undertake stone repairs to the North/West Gable and reapply harling, slate and lead renewal to side hall and also minimal joiner repairs and painterworks.



Survey from Scaffold

Scaffold was erected by mid-November and an initial survey with Pinny Neill Architect for LDN Architects took place. What we found was the stone was in a far worse condition than anticipated. Upon closer inspection particularly on the tower, many stones suffered from Contour Scaling and stones laid face bedded during original construction where ready to delaminate in layers.

Also found in numerous locations were inappropriate stone repairs carried our during previous repair works. This included 20mm thick pieces of stone resined into ashlar, string course mould cut back to wall line and new mould resined onto the face without any proper ties and fixings and an area to the rear of the tower where the corners of the quoin stones had been cut away losing its inband/outband key and leaving new thin indents balancing on top of each other.


Scaffold Inspection

Photo’s below show the area described on the previous page where quoin stones had been cut and lost there bond with thin pieces of stone indent put in it’s place sat precariously on top of each other.


Stone Repairs

Various stone samples were taken to site to look at. The chosen replacement stone type was Witten Fell sandstone. This was felt to be the best match both in terms of the stone make up and aesthetics. The photographs show some of the stones quoins and window jambs replaced. The dressed sandstone had been previously heavily repaired with cement mortar.

Below shows the corner of the tower where new sandstone quoins have been installed where inappropriate repairs had been undertaken previously.



Apart from the tower and front façade the Museum had originally been harled. Evidence of this could be found on the face of some stones where remnants of the original harl was showing. The detailing of the stonework with its protruding edge margins and rubble build also shown it to be detailed for harling. The harling was applied stages using a hot mixed gauged lime mortar with a hand cast finish.

At the rear of the tower we removed what the cement render that covered the wall. Below this we exposed what would have been an ashlar wall originally. Due to it’s condition this had been cut back to sound previously and covered in a cement render. We undertook a defrassing exercise on the exposed stonework, consolidated it with a coat of limewash and applied a hot mixed lime harl over the area. The harling was the coated with several coats of limewash. The photograph at the bottom right shows this area complete with new stone plinth and left hand side quoins.


The Works – Roofworks

Again during initial inspection of the main roof once access was available the roof was found to be in poor condition. It had been patched over the years with various different types of slate to various standards.


The decision was taken to strip and reslate the roof removing all variable slate. Dow Slater’s were sub-contacted to undertake the works of stripping and relsating the roof.


The Works – Lead

McDonald & Munro from Elgin were sub-contracted in to carry out renewal of the leadwork including gutters, hips, chimney vents and cover flashings around the building.


On the lower roof pitches of the Main Building Water Ingress was an issue around the Patent Glazing. Patch repairs with flash band had been carried out previously. This was stripped back and removed new lead coverings/details installed around the glazing.


Joinery Repairs

Glazing and timber repairs undertaken by Stewart Wilson Joinery


Before and After

Below shows pictures of areas before and after repair