Dreel Halls is the name for the listed building complex formerly known as the Anstruther Wester Town Hall, the Hew Scott Hall and the St Nicholas Tower. Until 2013 they were owned by Fife Council through the Common Good Fund and the Church of Scotland. They were operated in two separate parts by the local church and Anstruther Improvements Association.
Townscape Heritage Initiative
The building complex formed part of a bid for grant funding to the Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI), funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and designed to help communities regenerate Conservation Areas. In April 2010 £915,000 was awarded to Anstruther with a large chunk for the purpose of conserving and restoring important local historic buildings to bring them back into productive use. The Hew Scott Hall, St Nicholas Tower and Wester Anstruther Town Hall, together with the Murray Library, were the two main priority projects within the Initiative and this opportunity prompted the buildings’ owners (Fife Council and the Church of Scotland) to consider how best to secure their future as a central part of the Anstruther Wester community.
The Anstruther Improvements Association’s role
After much exploration and consultation, the Church of Scotland and Fife Council endorsed a decision for the building to be sold to the AIA, given its status as a community-led charitable organisation.
The project – Phase I
In 2013 ownership of the buildings transferred to Fife Historic Buildings Trust, who oversaw Phase I of an ambitious capital project, working with architectural practice ARC to restore the external fabric of the building so that it is weatherproof and sound. Early in 2014, at the end of Phase I, ownership passed to the AIA. Phase I funders were the Townscape Heritage Initiative (Heritage Lottery Fund), Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (Historic Scotland), Fife Environmental Trust, Fife Council, LEADER in Fife, the Church of Scotland, the AIA, North East Fife Area Common Good Fund and the Fife Historic Buildings Trust.
The project – Phase II
The AIA has secured funding of £520,000 for the next phase of capital works to upgrade the interior of the building from Fife LEADER (The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas) and the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund. This will improve its long-term sustainability by increasing energy efficiency and extending and increasing its use and will ensure accessibility and an improved experience for all users. The project will incorporate:
- a DDA-compliant WC on the ground floor
- upgrading the services, particularly combining 2 heating/ lighting systems
- creating a flexible, third space to include a kitchen suitable for caterers
- new doorways to graveyard and a terraced area, incorporating an ancient well discovered in 2016
Planning permission and listed building consent for designs for the next phase are in place (you can view the drawings here), all conditions have been met and in May 2019 construction began.