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9 November 2021

Alford Heritage Museum gains A listed status

Alford Heritage Museum has been awarded Category A listed status by Historic Environment Scotland (HES)

The exterior of a distinctive green, timbered auction building. As large, hand-painted signs indicate, it has been converted into a local heritage museum. Various agricultural artefacts, along with flower pots, are on display in front of the building.

Alford Heritage Museum has been awarded Category A listed status by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) in recognition of its special historic interest as a rare surviving example of an early 20th century livestock auction mart, and an important piece of Aberdeenshire's rural and agricultural heritage.  

Opening in 1905, the Alford Auction Mart was built for and operated by Aberdeen cattle salesmen Reith and Anderson, the largest cattle firm in Aberdeenshire at that time. As regulations changed and livestock sales centralised in the years following the Second World War, small, rural livestock marts declined and the Alford Auction Mart closed in 1986 after 80 years of near-continuous operation. 

The site remains today as a largely complete and very rare example of a pre-1914 livestock mart of timber construction in Scotland, and is open to the public as a museum which aims to preserve the rural heritage of the north-east of Scotland.

A auction ring surrounded by wooden seating. It was originally used for the sale of cattle but has been repurposed into a museum space displaying various items

Dara Parsons, Head of Designations at HES, said:

"Scotland has an incredibly rich and diverse built heritage, and listing is an important way of celebrating this history and ensuring that its value is recognised by future generations. 

The Alford Heritage Museum is a welcome addition to the List. Only the most outstanding examples are given a category A listing, and in this case we have recognised the important contribution the former mart makes to our understanding and appreciation of agricultural life, economy and society in this part of Scotland during the 19th and 20th centuries."

Alison Kennedy, Trustee of Alford Heritage Museum, said:

"While Trustees, volunteers and members of Alford Heritage Museum realised the importance of the former Alford Auction Mart building to the local community, the national significance has come as a huge surprise and we are overwhelmed and thrilled with the Category A listing awarded.   

"We would like to thank all at HES for their help in the listed building application and look forward to working with them in the future."

You can view the full designation report on the HES website.

About Alford Heritage Museum

The old Aberdeen and Northern Marts building in Alford, Aberdeenshire has been in existence since 1905. As the local auction centre, it was a hub of activity for the village and the surrounding countryside. It was a place to buy, sell, meet people, exchange news and gossip. It was always the centre of comings and goings until 1986, when the Company that owned the building and land – Aberdeen and Northern Marts Ltd. – implemented a process of rationalising their operations.

All local auction centres around the North East of Scotland were to be closed and centralised at a brand new centre in Inverurie. In this planned fate, the Alford Mart was to be sold off like all the others. Allegedly the land was earmarked to be used for a supermarket. Fortunately, a group of local farmers and enthusiasts were determined the Old Mart should survive for the benefit of the local community and after many meetings and fundraising events, the present Museum opened to the public on the 20th March 1991.

The museum aims to preserve and educate people about the traditional way of life that the people of the North East lived for hundreds of years, a way of life that is now dying out due to globalisation.

About Year of Coasts and Waters 2021

The Year of Coasts and Waters (#YCW2021), led by VisitScotland, will be showcased throughout 2021. Activities and ideas will shine a spotlight on the impact our waters have had on Scotland, from the formation of beautiful natural features to the creation of our national drink - whisky.

About Historic Environment Scotland (HES) 

  • We are the lead public body charged with caring for, protecting and promoting the historic environment. We will lead on delivering Scotland’s first strategy for the historic environment, Our Place in Time.
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For further information, please contact:

Claire Mullaney
Historic Environment Scotland Media Office
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