Built of Ballochmyle sandstone as a haven for well-heeled Victorian Scots, in its heyday it was said to be one of Scotland’s grandest hotels.  

But now the Ayr Station Hotel lies derelict and partly ruined after being scoured twice by fires this year.

Once the pride of the town, the building faces an uncertain future and have to be torn down once the smoke from the latest conflagration clears and the damage can be assessed.  

How has it come to this?  

The Herald:

'One of Scotland's grandest hotels'

The Ayr Station Hotel was was designed by the noted Scottish engineer Andrew Galloway in an opulent French Renaissance château-style.

Galloway, the chief engineer of the Glasgow and South Western Railwaylso designed the Glaisnock Railway Viaduct at Cumnock and created the famed flourishes which adorned the red-sandstone building.

READ MORE: 'The great Scottish hotel they want to destroy. We mustn’t let them'

The hotel opened its doors in 1885, offeringh 75 luxurious rooms and lavish facilities for an affluent clientele who spent their summer holidays on the Ayrshire coast, and attended the town’s fashionable race meetings as well as the local golf courses. 

Interiors were impressive, with a mosaic and marble grand ticket office and staircase was by Galbraith and Winton, well known Victorian monumental sculptors and marble-cutters who also created Glasgow City Chambers.  

But the B-listed hotel fell on hard times as the tourists drifted away, and lost some of its fixtures and fittings in the 1960s as it changed hands.  

It was eventually closed in 2013 after being bought by a Malaysian businessman known as Mr Ung, who has a registered business address in London. 

The ground floor of the north wing is owned by Network Rail and housed the station's ticket office and all other station facilities.  

The Herald:

How did it fall into disrepair?  

Neglect. The building has been closed and unmaintained for more than a decade and has simply succumbed to the wear and tear of time.

More than a century old, it has been left to deteriorate into such a sad condition that the local authority, South Ayrshire Council, was forced to serve Mr Ung with a dangerous building notice in 2013, and again in 2018, allowing it and Network Rail to carry out work to shore up the hotel.

READ MORE: Ayr Station Hotel - Arrests made and trains cancelled after huge fire

Netting was installed and work carried out to protect the public from falling masonry, allowing Ayr station to run as normal.  

Does that means the hotel can be saved?

Not fully. While the Dangerous Building Notice allowed the council to wrap the hotel in scaffolding in an effort to protect the public, it does not give them the power to completely renovate it.

South Ayrshire Council maintains it “isn't for us to say” why Mr Ung has not carried out works to protect his investment.

This has left the local authority in a bind – the building can be made safe, but not saved and given another lease of life while the owner does nothing.  

The Herald: The building has been badly damaged in the latest fire 

Are other groups involved? 

Save Britian’s Heritage, which fights to conserve historic buildings, have led a campaign to have the hotel brought back to life.  

After carrying out a structural survey of the building, which found it to be still salvageable, it proposed spending £9m to make it wind and watertight.

Local groups also object to any suggestions that it would be torn down.  

But that may not be enough to save the hotel.  

The Herald: Interiors were ruined - before the fire 

Why not?  

Costs are eye-watering. While it would be around £9m to bring the building back from the brink, it would just be the start of the journey.

In December 2022 a report produced by Mott MacDonald for South Ayrshire Council found that the preferred option – the demolition of part of the hotel and the construction of a new station – could cost as much as £40m. Prices will have risen sharply since then.

Even converting the hotel into a business centre - another option discussed - could cost up to £32m. 

Following the report, the Council took the decision to demolish the southern section of the privately owned building under its statutory powers.  

But as funding would still need to be found to carry out this work, it has yet to begin.