Heritage Scotland

Grade-A restoration project for Fochabers

Swiss Cottage

A thrilling project to restore the Grade-A listed Swiss Cottage on the outskirts of Fochabers is now complete.

Located just off the A98 Fraserburgh Road, Swiss Cottage was built in 1834 in the style of a traditional Swiss chalet. The two-storey cottage is timber-framed and timber-clad with overhanging eaves and balconies that run along the length of the building. As a result of the unusual design and construction methods, its listing status was upgraded from B to A in 1996.

Swiss Cottage is thought to have been constructed by the 4th Duke of Gordon, although historians now suggest that his son George was responsible for its commission. Upon George’s death in 1836 the estate passed to the Duke of Richmond and Lennox, who later added Gordon to the family name. The Gordon estate remained in the Richmond-Gordon family until 1938 when it became part of the Crown Estate.

Swiss Cottage was inhabited by the Reich family in the later 19th and 20th century before it was sold by the Crown Estate Commissioners to Charles Laing and his wife Margaret, who lived in the cottage from 1958 to 1995.

Over the years the cottage had deteriorated and a £180,000 refurbishment project was therefore launched by current owner Gordon Christie in May 2011. Completed in May 2012, the refurbishment was designed by LDN Architects and carried out by main contractor G&A Construction.

Gordon Christie said:

“The aim of the project was to try and retain as much of the original building as possible. It was also important to refurbish the property in order to ensure that there won’t be a need for extensive repair works over the next 50 years.

Swiss Cottage

“The majority of the repair works have taken place over the lower level, as the eaves that overhang the first floor had protected the top level from the weather. As a result, although the main structure was fairly sound, water ingress meant that the rot was largely confined to the lower section of the cottage.”

Refurbishment works have included the restoration of the timber cladding, along with the creation of two small extensions for the shower/toilet and kitchen areas. In addition, the garden has been completely renovated and the original wooden fence perimeter has been reinstated.

The cottage includes a main sitting room and basic kitchen and bathroom areas on the ground floor and a large double bedroom and small room on the first floor.

Gordon Christie commented:

“We have worked hard to return the building as closely as possible to how it was in 1834 whilst ensuring that the accommodation adheres to modern health and safety standards. We want our visitors to experience life as it was in the 1830s, which makes Swiss Cottage a unique holiday destination.

“There has been a lot of local interest in the project. It is an iconic building that sits on the A98, so everyone that passes by can see it. They have seen the deterioration of the building over the years, and now they have seen it transformed back to its original state.

“This has been a very challenging project and it took a number of schemes to get it up off the ground. However, I am extremely pleased with what has been achieved and I anticipate that there will be a lot of interest in this unusual holiday cottage.”

To find out more about Swiss Cottage, visit www.theswisscottage.com

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