Holiday accommodation plan for historic 18th century tolbooth in Fife village

A historic tolbooth in a Fife village could be set for a new lease of life as holiday accommodation under new plans revealed this week.
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The B-Listed building in West Wemyss with its distinctive clock tower is the subject of a new planning application to make a change of use.

Wemyss 1952 Trust wants approval from Fife Council for a change of use, and to carry out repairs and re-instate some of the building’s hidden features on the first floor. The two-storey tolbooth dates from the 18th century and sits at the heart of the village’s Main Street. A category B listed building located in Main Street, it is bounded at either side by a terrace of former salters and colliers’ houses. It was until recently occupied as the trust’s office, but is currently unoccupied.

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The applicants want to change its use to create “high quality short term holiday accommodation” and turn its principal room into a multi-purpose function space for the local community and a general meeting place. One of the vaults, probably part of the original Tolbooth and possible gaol, may be used in the future as an interpretation centre for the history of the village.

The tolbooth in West Wemyss could become holiday accommodationThe tolbooth in West Wemyss could become holiday accommodation
The tolbooth in West Wemyss could become holiday accommodation

Tolbooths were an essential feature of the civic architecture of towns and burghs across Scotland up until the early 19th century. As hosts to custom offices and prison cells - and occasionally a place of punishment, execution and torture - they housed the appointed officials whose job it was to carry out such duties. The Tolbooth in West Wemyss is one of 90 remaining tolbooths.

In 1525 West Wemyss was erected a burgh of barony and the burgesses were given the right to have a tolbooth. In the early 18th century, a new Tolbooth was built on the site of the old one by David, 4th Earl of Wemyss. The tower was converted from a pigeon loft to a clock tower in 1901.

A supporting statement, submitted as part of the application, said: “Refurbishing the building and bringing it once again into public use will greatly enhance the village and give a new purpose to this historic building.

Councillors will consider the application in due course.