ENFPS visit to Sandford House, Newport-on-Tay Sunday 24 September 2023

ENFPS visit to Sandford House, Newport-on-Tay Sunday 24 September
Sandford House is an outstanding example of an Arts & Crafts house, one of only two in Scotland designed by the celebrated architect Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott. The house was built for the Valentine family in the early 1900s, Harden J Valentine being a very successful Dundee photographic publisher notable for his firm’s holiday postcards.
About 30 members of the Society enjoyed a conducted tour of the house led by our hosts Ralph Webster and Evelyn Hardie.
Originally built with half-timbered walls and a thatched roof, the building suffered a major fire in 1910 and was re-built with harled walls and clay rosemary roof tiles, again to Baillie Scott’s design. Following its change of use to a hotel in the 1960s a large third wing was added, to a tactful design by conservation architects Robert Hurd & Partners. A similarly tactful approach has been taken by Ralph and Evelyn in their recent conversion of two of the wings into self-contained Airbnb apartments.
Our hosts gave us a blow-by-blow account of their hands-on restoration of the building from a near derelict state and entertained us with stories from the house’s past which included being the rest and recreation base for the aircrew of a WW2 Norwegian flying boat squadron that was based on the Tay at Wormit.
Notable features of the house include a minstrel’s gallery in the main hall and an Arts & Crafts tiled wishing well in the courtyard.
An interesting discovery during the restoration was that the external walls are of cavity brick construction, perhaps explaining why the house has avoided the dampness problems that have plagued other Arts & Crafts properties of the period.  A number of our members had fond memories of the house in its days as the Sandford Country House Hotel.
Our tour culminated with the traditional ENFPS drinks and exquisite nibbles in the house’s spacious kitchen/dining room overlooking the Tay.  A donation of the proceeds of ticket sales was made to our hosts’ chosen charity, the RNLI.