Efforts to save rare Scots ‘mudwall’ building under threat

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One of the last “mudwall” buildings in Scotland is under threat after being repeatedly flooded, it was revealed yesterday.

The Old Schoolhouse in Cottown, near St Madoes, Perthshire is at “significant” risk if water levels in the River Tay continue to rise, current owner, the National Trust for Scotland (NTS), has warned .

Cottown stands on the flood plain in the Carse of Gowrie to the north of the Firth of Tay.

NTS said that the flooding problem is a long-standing one which goes beyond the building itself. It has now called on Perth and Kinross Council to help find a long-term solution.

A letter to council chief executive Bernadette Malone from NTS director of strategic development Pete Selman has asked for a meeting with council officials, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa), and the community council serving St Madoes.

In his letter, Mr Selman wrote: “Fundamentally, the problem is the location of housing at Cottown on a low-lying area with a high water table.

“A recurring flood problem has been exacerbated by the increased rainfall and the level of surface water run-off created by development.

“We are increasingly concerned by the plight of neighbouring properties.

“Residents understandably want a solution and, because the schoolhouse is at the lowest point, the trust has been criticised for failing to ‘solve’ the wider problem.

“Given the increasingly wet and windy weather, this is not a problem that is going to resolve itself – a holistic solution is required.”

Heavy rain in recent years, including in 2011, have put the property at risk with, the NTS calling in contractors to ensure that the mud construction is not badly affected.

The Old Schoolhouse is believed to have been built around 1745, at the time of the Jacobite uprising that ended at Culloden, and is thought to have become a home in the mid-19th century.

It was abandoned in 1985 and quickly fell into a state of ­disrepair.

In recognition of its rarity and value, as an almost intact example of 18th century mudwall construction, the building was given a category W listing in 1991, although an estimated 120 similar properties were built nearby around the same time as the ­schoolhouse. It was meticulously repaired by the NTS 20 years ago after lying empty for more than a decade.

A spokeswoman for Perth and Kinross Council said yesterday that the authority would respond to the NTS directly.

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