Gardyne's House

(Gardyne's Land, Dundee Backpackers Hostel)

An unpretentious building hidden away in Gray's Close behind the High Street, a location which probably ensured its protection, the A-listed Gardyne's House is the oldest townhouse in Dundee, dating from c.1560. Comprising a much-altered L-plan merchant's house of four-storeys and an attic, it was once owned by John Gardyne. The hidden facade incorporates chamfered windows at ground-level with roll-moulded above. The door features a stepped hoodmould and lintel carved '1607 AS PK' below a small window and bowed stair turret.

Acquired by Tayside Building Preservation Trust, the building was restored 2000-03, with a visit by HRH Prince Charles, the Duke of Rothesay, in 2003. Following a complex programme of fundraising, the building was sympathetically converted between 2005-08 to form a 100-bed youth hostel by Edinburgh-based Simpson and Brown architects. The contractors were W.H. Brown Construction of Dundee. The £4.1-million restoration and conversion extending into the four adjacent properties to ensure a hostel of a viable size could be created; namely two tenements (of c.1640 and 1790), a billiard hall (c.1820) and a shop dating (c.1865). Surviving original features included a panelled room dating from the 1720s, and workshops for a watchmaker and a bagpipe-maker. The tenements and shop form the frontage on the High Street. The ensemble is known as Gardyne's Land and the Dundee Backpackers Hostel opened in 2008 and its modern reception area is located in the central courtyard, now covered by a spectacular glass roof. It features both smaller rooms and dormitory accommodation, social facilities, a large conference room and self-catering kitchen. The restoration has received awards from the Dundee Civic Trust, Dundee Institute of Architects, and the Royal Town Planning Institute.

Mounted on the external wall is a remarkable clock, made in 1932 and moved from an adjacent building and restored in 2006, this features a model of Dundee's lost Town House, built by William Adam in 1734.

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