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Past Times

Forgotten timewarp Victorian house in Ellon goes on the market for first time in 94 years

Behind the semi-derelict exterior of the Ellon period property lies a treasure trove of original features waiting to be restored - including a Victorian wooden toilet.
Kirstie Waterston
The timewarp semi-derelict property in Ellon has a treasure trove of Victorian features. Image: ASPC/Clarke Cooper
The timewarp semi-derelict property in Ellon has a treasure trove of Victorian features. Image: ASPC/Clarke Cooper

A neglected Victorian house in Ellon that has been empty since 1972 has gone on the market for the first time in more than 90 years.

The period property has been stuck in a Victorian timewarp, boarded up since the early 1970s when the previous owner died.

But behind the semi-derelict exterior and faded hoardings lies a treasure of original features waiting to be discovered and restored – including a Victorian thunderbox lavatory.

The property on Union Street in Ellon has been sitting empty since 1972. Image: ASPC

The three-bedroomed house called Deveronlea is on the market for just £140,000 – but the price reflects 50 years of neglect.

Now estate agent photographs offer a glimpse inside the substantial granite property which has mystified locals for decades.

Eyesore Ellon house retains rare Victorian features

With some money and vision, a sympathetic buyer could transform the tired semi-detached house into a beautiful family home.

Hidden in large, overgrown gardens, the property at 2 Union Street sits opposite the fire station in Ellon.

The lucky new owners will be able to enjoy the original stained glass fanlight window. Image: ASPC

With its prime town-centre location, it has been considered an eyesore for decades.

But despite its rundown appearance and layers of dust, Deveronlea is a gem of a property.

The front door still has a remarkably intact Victorian stained glass fanlight window with the house name written in gold leaf.

Stepping through the door takes you into the vestibule and then hallway with a sweeping staircase – complete with original cast iron spindles.

The beautiful Victorian staircase is the focal point of the entrance hall. Image: ASPC

Because the house has been empty for more than half a century, it escaped 1970s modernising and has clung onto its original windows, panel doors and fireplaces.

Servants’ bells and rayburn oven survive in timewarp kitchen

From the hallway you enter the lounge, which is packed with Victorian features.

It has a focal-point fireplace, picture rail, alcoves, wooden flooring and a huge sash and case window.

The faded outlines of furniture can be glimpsed against the peeling wallpaper, but the room is surprisingly intact.

The lounge is reasonably intact with an attractive fireplace and alcoves. Image: ASPC

However, the ravages of time have taken their toll on the small dining room next door.

There has been significant water ingress over the years, which has caused part of the plaster ceiling to come down and the floorboards to rot.

But the redeeming feature in the room is the slate fireplace with its bright green tiles.

There has been significant damage to the dining room. Image: ASPC

While the derelict kitchen at the rear of the property is a true Victorian timewarp.

It still has its original cream Rayburn oven, which matches the old cream-coloured sink unit and peeling walls.

But the most special period feature in the kitchen is the original servants’ bell-board above the door.

Manufactured by John Dick, an Ellon plumber, the servant could be summoned to the front door, parlour or master bedroom.

An old rayburn is the only cooking source in the crumbling old kitchen. Image: ASPC

Few survive as most were removed when families no longer employed servants.

Meanwhile, the glass from the boarded-up window is propped against the wall, but reinstated, the window would give views over the side garden.

An outbuilding completes the accommodation downstairs.

A rare surviving servants’ bell-board manufactured in Ellon. Image: ASPC

Pink bathroom still has original wooden toilet

Heading upstairs, the curved bannister has been gently worn by the touch of many hands over the years.

On a mezzanine level is a peeling pink bathroom, which still has its wooden Victorian ‘thunderbox’ toilet and cast iron bath.

Peeking through the crumbling old linoleum are old copies of the Evening Express, which were used to line the floorboards.

The original plumbing includes a Victorian toilet and cast iron bath. Image: ASPC

Next door there is a small bedroom with a skylight window.

Ascending the rest of the stairs takes you past cracked plaster and faded floral wallpaper to the upstairs landing.

The master bedroom has a vintage yellow interior, slate fireplace and servants’ bell, but has significant watermarks on the walls and ceiling.

The master bedroom is a cheerful vintage yellow, but has visible water damage. Image: ASPC

The second double bedroom also retains its original fireplace, but is even more dilapidated with exposed laths and cracked plaster.

Another small box room houses the water tank.

Why did the house sit empty for so long?

The house is being marketed by Raeburn Christie Clark & Wallace as needing complete refurbishment.

The box room currently houses a water tank. Image: ASPC

But its listing comes as a relief to locals who have watched the property deteriorate over the last 52 years.

Deveronlea has been in the same family for decades and is coming to the market for the first time in more than 90 years.

However, the circumstances of its abandonment remain a bit of a mystery.

It used to belong to widow Isabella Soutar, who lived in the house since at least 1930.

The impressive stairwell retains its Victorian staircase and spindles. Image: ASPC

Isabella was widowed young and lived with her daughter Ella at Deveronlea.

Ella was a teacher at Ellon Academy and married farmer James Andrew in 1950.

They lived with Isabella at the house and went on to have four sons before moving away.

Isabella died in 1972 aged 88, which was the last time Deveronlea was lived in, and the property passed to Ella.

The house sits in large garden grounds. Image: ASPC

It then went into the joint ownership of her sons James, William, Ronald and Hugh in 1978.

But according to the home report it wasn’t until 2019 that a trustee was appointed on their behalf.

Neighbour raised concerns about house in 1986

Union Street residents first complained about the state of the property in 1986.

An article in the Press and Journal saw the next-door neighbour raising concerns about damage to her home.

Gladys Taylor said she had tried “numerous avenues” to have remedial action taken on the old house.

The semi-derelict house at 2 Union Street in Ellon captured by the Evening Express in 2009. Image: DC Thomson

She said damp was coming through her party wall from the adjoining, empty property.

Gladys said she’d written to Ella, and in the intervening years various workmen had been sent along.

The-then Gordon District Council also got involved, but said although they were sympathetic, there were no environmental health concerns.

Now, it’s hoped that the beautiful house will be restored to a happy, family home once again.

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