Plans submitted to the Dean of Guild court, St Andrews, Fife

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Main series of numbered plans submitted to the Court, 1-3853, with many gaps.Main series of numbered plans submitted to the Court, 1-3853, with many gaps.36 boxes of plans identified as relating to plans before 1894; water; planning; roads; outwith Fife; modern series with planning application number; red numbers; unidentified series; to be disposed of.36 boxes of plans identified as relating to plans before 1894; water; planning; roads; outwith Fife; modern series with planning application number; red numbers; unidentified series; to be disposed of.7 boxes of annotated Ordnance Survey maps.7 boxes of annotated Ordnance Survey maps.3 boxes of miscellaneous plans.

Administrative / Biographical History

Dean of Guild courts have their origin in Scotland's medieval royal burghs. The monopoly of foreign trade and the right to buy and sell goods wholesale was reserved to merchants who organised themselves into merchant guilds to safeguard their privileges. An elected Dean of Guild sat at the head of this exclusive group of the wealthiest of the citizens of the burgh. The Dean also assumed the status of a magistrate with a legal jurisdiction over cases arising from trade. However, the lasting role of Dean of Guild courts in discharging supervisory powers over buildings only developed from the seventeenth century.

By the nineteenth century many of the Dean of Guild courts had dwindled in influence and the powers given to Police Commissioners encroached on their traditional areas of jurisdiction. There was a proliferation of authorities responsible for buildings and planning matters until the situation was rationalised under the 1892 Burgh Police (Scotland) Act. This specified the duties and procedure to be followed by all Dean of Guild Courts. There was no compulsion to have a building control authority until 1903. The Dean of Guild courts were abolished by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 on 16 May 1975 and their functions are now discharged by the building control department of district councils.

Any proposal to erect, alter or demolish a building within the burgh of St Andrews required the sanction of this Court. The only building work outwith its jurisdiction was that undertaken by the Crown, railway companies and Scottish Health board. Consent for building work was sought by a petition, (an application from 1964) accompanied by drawings detailing the nature of the proposal. The drawings were inspected to ensure that they met the regulations on stability, access to light, ventilation and sanitary arrangements of the new building. Petitions could be opposed and objections were sought.

Drawings usually had to be submitted in ink on tracing cloth or linen. In order to judge the proposals the Court required plans of the foundations, of each floor and of the roof; elevations and sections of the building and a block plan showing the size and position of the building relative to adjoining street and buildings. Coterminous proprietors were to be marked on the block plan. Drainage, means of ventilation and the dimensions of structural features had to be shown to demonstrate adherence to building regulations and if engineering work was required then engineering drawings were also to be submitted. Drawings for rejected petitions did not have to be kept by the court, however, drawings with successful petitions were retained as a permanent record of the proposals for which a warrant was granted. At least one of the drawings was signed and dated by the Dean of Guild.

Source: Ian Gray, A Guide to Dean of Guild Court Records, (Glasgow, 1994).

Conditions Governing Access

By appointment with the Archivist. Access to unpublished records less than 30 years old and other records containing confidential information may be restricted. Special conditions apply to photographs.

Acquisition Information

Deposited by the building control department of North East Fife District Council on the sale of the old burgh chambers, Queens Gardens, St Andrews.

Note

The plans are rolled. They were transferred to the library in their original storage tubes, which were numbered. At boxing it was found that many of the tubes were empty and some were missing. Therefore there are many gaps in the sequence listed in the Registers and the identification of an application in the register does not guarantee the presence of plans.

Description compiled by Rachel Hart, Archives Hub Project.

Other Finding Aids

Hand list to series other than the main series is available in reading room. The main series is accessed through the registers.

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the University Archivist. Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents and also with consent of depositor.

Related Material

GB 227 msdep 103 Registers of the Dean of Guild Court.GB 227 msdep 103 Registers of the Dean of Guild Court.GB 227 B65/15/1 Records of the burgh of St Andrews, Minutes of Dean of Guild Court, 1827-1865.

Geographical Names