Brown Institute, 41-43, Canal Street, Renfrew

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Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved. © Copyright and database right 2019.

General Details and Location

Name of Building
Brown Institute
Other Name(s)
41-43, Canal Street, Renfrew
Planning Authority
Divisional Area
Reference No
Listing Category
OS Grid Ref
NS 50871 67772
Location Type
HS Reference No


2-storey, 3-bay modern movement red sandstone, snecked bullnosed rubble with polished ashlar dressing. Windows mainly leaded.
Scotch slate roof. STREET ELEVATION: symmetrical. Central doorway with round-headed doorway set into square-headed architrave, with three light 'fanlight'. Elaborate sculpture panel inscribed Brown Institute 1903 below corbells of broad canted oriel. Flanking doorhead and panel are pilasters with elaborate mannered capitals merging into corbels. Oriel is flattened, with 4-light mullioned and transomed central window and single transomed windows on the sides. At ground broad depressed arched openings, to left 5 light timber mullioned and transomed-window on right single shop front, both with multi-paned glazing in the head. Small single windows at first to left and right of oriel with chamfered ingoes. Wallhead has gablet cope, castellated over raised parapet above oriel. Central Art Nouveau cupola roof ridge ventilator with ogee-roof and wrought-iron finial.

The Browns were involved in the management of William Simons' shipyard in Renfrew. (Historic Scotland)

Originally housed a library, reading room and a panelled billiard room
and was presented to the town of Renfrew by Provost Andrew Brown. Latterly in use as a museum. (Renfrewshire Council)
Building Dates
Alexander McGibbon with William Barclay (asst)

Category of Risk and Development History

Category of Risk
Exemptions to State of Risk
Field Visits
5/7/2012, 20/8/2014
Development History
5 July 2012: Former Brown Institute was nominated for the Register by Local Planners. External inspection finds it appears, outwardly, to be in fair condition. Of most immediate concern, other than the lack of a use, is a notable crack to the right hand side of the crenelation above the oriel window. The building was latterly in use as a museum, but vacanted in 2011 when the museum moved to the refurbished town hall. Renfrewshire Council is marketing the building for sale as a development opportunity. A full Development Brief (available for download from Renfrewshire Council's website) has been prepared with guidance for potential purchasers of the site.
20 August 2014: External inspection finds scaffolding has been erected to the front elevation, otherwise, it appears to remain in much the same condition as seen previously. A marketing board is affixed to the property advertising it for sale as a development opportunity.
2 March 2015: The building does not appear to be under marketing at this time.
4 September 2020: A member of the public notes a full height crack is evident to the side elevation and render loss is exposing the brickwork.

Guides to Development

Conservation Area
Planning Authority Contact
PAC Telephone Number


Current Availability
Appointed Agents
Occupancy Type
Present/Former Uses
Name of Owners
Renfrewshire Council
Type of Ownership
Local Authority

Information Services

Additional Contacts/Information Source
Online Resources
Private Halls and Clubs
Original Entry Date
Date of Last Edit