If anyone knows how to move house it’s Greg and Johan Byrne.
For they have packed and unpacked and moved in and out of different homes so many times throughout their married life they’ve almost lost count of which number of house they’re on.
Now both are in their 70s, they are about to repeat the process as they are on the move once more.
This means bidding farewell to their current, rather special home, The Old School in Longmanhill near MacDuff.
As the name suggests, this detached, unique house was at one time the local school.
“The building was used as a school in the early 1800s,” said Greg.
“Records describe it as ‘a neat stone building, built by Lord Fife, partly supported by a Government grant, and by the children’s pence’.
“It was originally known as Lord Fyfe’s School before becoming Longmanhill Public School.”
It’s thought the school closed around 1959/60 and was sold to Balblair Distillery who, in turn, sold it on to a private owner.
Mr and Mrs Byrne bought the house in 2002, long after it had been converted from a school to a private house.
At the time, they were living in Fort William while Johan worked as a head teacher at a school in Acharacle.
Moving to a new home away from where they live has never held any fears for them.
“Over the years we’ve lived in lots of homes, well into the 20s I would think, in different locations including Germany, which is where we met,” said Greg.
“I was stationed there with the army and Johan, who is originally from the Isle of Harris, was there working as a teacher.
“We returned to Scotland in 1975 and initially thought about moving to America or New Zealand, but we were rather naive and didn’t realise that, at the time, you not only needed all sorts of permits but return tickets and a hefty bank balance, which we didn’t have.
“So we moved in with Johan’s parents in North Uist then stayed on as Johan worked as a teacher in North Tolsta, while I worked for Western Isles Council.”
Later, they’d move to Edinburgh; stay in at least three different areas of Glasgow and move to Fort William before settling down near Banff.
“After buying the house, one of the first jobs we tackled was taking down all the internal walls so we could put in Kingspan Insulation, then we put the walls back.
“Other jobs included rejigging the kitchen and stripping all the plasterboard off a wall in the dining room.
“It had been the original gable end of the school and was three foot thick.
“We also put in two rooms upstairs but left the dining room double height – it’s six metres high from floor to ceiling – but cosy thanks to the mixture of good insulation and a wood-burning stove.”
A picture window was removed from the dining room and replaced with french doors, while two Velux ceiling windows make this room a lovely, light space.
The full accommodation includes a very large conservatory from where there’s grand views of the surrounding countryside and Moray Firth to be enjoyed; a good-sized lounge with an LPG gas fired living flame fire and patio doors opening to the conservatory.
The kitchen has been fitted with an excellent range of units and features a Rangemaster cooker, while the dining room has french doors opening to timber deck and the lovely back garden.
This floor also has two double bedrooms, a family bathroom and an office which could be used as a fifth bedroom.
A bespoke staircase leads upstairs where there’s two more double bedrooms, each with en suite facilities.
The house has double glazing, a security alarm system, underfloor heating in the bathrooms, oil-fired central heating and electric shutters on the rear windows.
“When we lived in Germany all our homes had shutters and it’s something we really liked which is why we chose to instal them here,” said Greg.
Outside, there’s a garage and large workshop, and what had once been a gravel school playground has been beautifully transformed into a lovely garden with a mixture of seating and planting areas.
The couple have clearly lavished a lot of love, care and attention on the house but are now looking to sell as Johan has a notion to live either on the West Coast or somewhere closer to Inverness where one of their two daughters lives.
“An elderly friend once said to me that when he retired he wanted to live within zimmer distance of a post office and I think there’s an element of that involved with us too,” joked Greg.
On the market at offers over £275,000, The Old School, Longmanhill, is a superb large family home that would also be suitable for offering B&B.
Within easy reach of Macduff, which has an excellent range of facilities including a primary school, health centre and shops, there are further amenities found in nearby Banff.
Contact: Anderson Shaw & Gilbert on (01463) 253-911.