Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Nairn Common Good Fund - easier community input and improved transparency coming it seems but lots of questions on Asset Register Content - anyone with info to add to debate?

The discussion at the NWSCC meeting on Monday night in the Community Centre on the issue of the Nairn Common Good and the issue of the register recently published by Highland Council was striking in the display of apparent willingness of the three local Highland Council members present to forge a new way forward that includes transparency and more input from the community. The bad old days of Nairn's relationship with Highland Council might indeed be slipping away into the past. 

There are questions being asked of the register however and here's some that emerged from the meeting: "how long has Sandown been a CG asset?", "who remembers the MacLaren Gardens?", "how many people were aware that the parking behind the Courthouse is CG land?", "should Viewfield be regarded as a Common Good asset because it was originally purchased for the benefit of the local community as a public park?" And a few other issues.

What do you think readers, have you got any historical info on Common Good property or issues that might help the debate. The register of interests is linked in this Gurn article. We'd like to add a paper below that was discussed at the meeting. It comes from Joan Noble and makes several comments, I'm sure that many Gurnites will find it interesting:

Common Good Draft RegisterAreas included but require clarification/correction

  1. Harbour area:
All part of Burgh lands, and used as common ground/ work premises from earliest records.
Boatyard, Sailing Clubhouse, Sundancer, all on CG register and leased.
Coastguard office pays rent to CG but not on the register. Shelter, Fisher girl Statue, Harbour Car park, Carwash site , toilets, flats on site of old Sea Scout Hut and Shore Street flats overlooking harbour
not mentioned.
All these areas should have been checked and added as appropriate.
Should some be paying rent to CG fund.

Action points: i. All areas and buildings must be specified in the register and mapped to ensure clarity.
ii. All leases need checked and ensure payments are being made to CGF.

  1. Nairn Dunbar Golf Course.
CG land extends significantly further north than the golf course boundary at the Eastern end.
Kingsteps car park is also part of this CG land although the road belongs to Brodie.

Action Points: i. Map drawn up in 1980 available and HC one needs revised.
ii. Kingsteps car park needs added to register.

  1. Marine Road Property. Which property is this? Old Toilets ?

4 Riverside Park
The extent of the park is inadequately described. It does not include the car park, playpark and Jubilee Bridge.
The extent of CG land previously owned by Whinnieknowe estate is not adequately delineated. 1 acre of this was purchased from the Church of Scotland in October 1974. (ROS SS 65)

Action Points: The former Whinnieknowe land must be accurately mapped. Does it extend to Firhall Bridge?
Description of park must be much more accurate and inclusive.

  1. Sandown Lands:
Part of the original Burgh lands of Nairn – there is proof of lease for agricultural use for over 150 years.
Very inaccurately described. North Field 1 is bordered by A96, Rear of properties on W side of Tradespark Road, South Boundary of Fort Reay, and Sandown Farm Lane. North field 2 is bounded by A96, the Old Burgh Boundary (Right of way from Moss-side road to the beach.), Altonburn Road and Sandown Farm Lane.
South Field is bounded by A96, Sandown Road, Wyvis Drive, Moss-side Drive and Old Burgh Boundary.

Action points: Needs accurate description and mapping.
Need clarity about whether the land is inalienable.

Sites not on register but queries have been raised.
Tradespark. Triangular wood.
Title registered by Tyrell Hastings Clarke 1903 as described in ROS (SS 358)
Present Owner: Highland Council
Purchased: 16 May 1988 from Cyril Wilson Clarke for £19,460. HC minutes (HRC 1/1/23 p 627) and ROS (SS 358)
Site of old Community Centre. Needs Clarification and full history. Free Church built 1843.
Site of Demolished Petrol Station in town centre. Still belongs to Co-op.

Common Good Draft Register Omissions:


  1. Parkland area south of Bridge street on east of river below Riverside Terrace.
  • John Wood map 1828 showing it as part of Burgh lands. No evidence of sale.
  • Continuous use as common/parkland.
  1. Prince of Wales Walk up east side of river from A96 Bridge to Howford Bridge and presumably the surrounding land outwith farm or property fencing.
OS name books Volume 07, Nairnshire. 1869
What is the status of the banks of the river as part of the fishings bought in 1923?

  1. Calfward Garden. Beside Mill Road Allotments. What is the extent of this area?
Evidence: In 1996 CG register
Who owns Old Church and Graveyard?

Town Centre:

Courthouse/ Falconer’s lane car park.
NDC minutes 1/1/2 pps. 55, 107,112, 183. Purchased 1975 with CG fund monies from SCWS and minuted as such.
21 year lease to Highland Regional Council at nominal rate.
This car park was included in 1996 CG Register.

Viewfield estate (minus the bus station section) was bought from Inverness Investment Trust Ltd. by the Burgh in Jan 1949 after it had been requisitioned in the war. It was in poorish condition after this and being used as a workshop.
The sale went through it appears using £4000 from the E. M. Fraser bequest for the poor of Nairn. The Estate was used as a security bond for the E M Fraser bequest. (ROS SS 526.)
Viewfield House was to be used as the library and Burgh Engineer’s Dept. The rest of the house was used as a caretakers flat, and rooms which the community could rent – Red Cross, guides, pipe band, room for Nairn Lit. Institute Archives. 44 Allotments were prepared at the A96 end and the adjoining land was cultivated by Grigor Davidson, tenant of Sandown. The lodge was leased to the cinema manager.
At a meeting of 23 Oct 1950 (BN 1/1/30) the Viewfield Committee of the Burgh came up with suggestion of uses for ‘Viewfield Public Park’ (para 2) and a landscape architect was in attendance to take the ideas forward. Suggestions of bowling green, hockey pitch, tennis courts and a public stage for entertainments were mooted.
It is abundantly clear that the Viewfield open space had been purchased with a bequest and was to be used for the behoof of the community. The house was also available for community use although primarily library/offices.
In August 1952 the remaining section (currently the bus station) which was leased as a Burgh car park and bus halt, was purchased and continued in use as a car park, with the bus company then leasing their stances and shed.
1968 Burgh sold 1 acre including Viewfield lodge to North Eastern Counties Police Board (ROS SS 526).
Trustees of EM Fraser bequest agreed to disburdening of the £4000 bond.

For all these reasons there is a very clear claim for Viewfield Park to be part of the CG assets of Nairn, and further evidence is that the Sports Club and Bowling Green pay annual rent to the Common Good Fund.
The MacLaren Gardens behind the bus station were also bequeathed to the Common Good.

Promenade. Purchased 1948
Clerk’s Acre
Pays rental to CG.

ATC/TA huts – were sited at the rear of Viewfield during war and were part of the sale. Previously in CG register.

Shaw’s Close Car Park
1975 NDC minutes 1/1/2 p 107. Parking bays in Shaw’s Close / Simpson St car park paid lease to Common Good.
This suggests that this car park is at least partly owned by CG.

Art and Artefacts
Previous registers included paintings and other burgh property such as the War Memorial, Straith’s Monument, Toorie Monument, Victoria Fountain and the Mercat Cross.


Anonymous said...

Fantastic piece of work by Joan Nobel.

The bailey Bridge is not mentioned
The caravan park and its recent extension inc toilet block?
Clarification of seaward boundary, is it LAT or Mean HAT?
Who does the Harbour structure belong to?

The West Golf course? Or its boundary?

The River and its West Bank?

Are there any areas on High street or adjacent that are CG assets,?

Can we have clarity on ownership of the former Showfields and access paths to school.?

Can we have clarity on Grounds in area of NC footballpark, council depot?

Graisg said...

Thanks Anon, will look for that and post your comment later with appropriate thoughts.