Sweet news as historic Sugar Sheds are saved

IN ITS heyday, it was a marvel of cutting-edge architectural engineering and a symbol of Greenock's position as the centre of the UK sugar trade.

The Sugar Warehouse which spanned the length of the John Watt dock was a technological feat that made it the envy of other port towns when it was first built in 1885.

But within a hundred years and with the advent of the container ship, it fell into disuse during the 1960s and, following a serious fire in 1996, a state of disrepair.

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Unexpectedly, however, the A-listed historic structure's future was secured with the announcement yesterday that it is to undergo a 3.7 million refurbishment. Known locally as the Sugar Sheds, the building will be converted into apartments and leisure and business premises as part of the area's regeneration project.

Speaking after the announcement, Historic Scotland principal inspector Ranald Macinnes said: "The Sugar Warehouse is a marvel of 19th-century engineering and ambition. It is a reflection of not only the industrial past of Greenock, but of Scotland.

"This announcement came through at a critical time. To have lost the building would have been damaging for the town's psyche, such is its importance."