Perthshire Telephone Exchange Sells for £85k in ‘quirky’ Property Boom

Perthshire telephone exchange sells for £85k in ‘quirky’ property boom

Measuring just eight metres by two and with a distinct lack of mod cons, it is certainly what estate agents might like to say is on the “compact and bijou” side.

For years, the tiny telephone exchange building on the outskirts of the small hamlet of Ardeonaig in Perthshire did a fine job helping to keep communications flowing.

Now, however, the disused stone building overlooking Loch Tay has astounded its owner and the online auction firm that has just sold it, after smashing its initial £15,000 guide price by around six times that amount.

The rather snug building – a little longer but barely wider than the average domestic garage – attracted international interest as bidders battled it out before it finally went under the hammer for £85,000.

The price is roughly the same as some two-bedroom properties currently on the market in towns such as Dunoon and Glenrothes, Fife.

While the telephone exchange accommodation might be far more basic than a home – there’s no running water, toilet facilities or heating for a start – the location, overlooking the loch and with Ben Lawers towering in the distance, certainly had a lot to do with the final price.

The Covid-fuelled boom in Scottish rural holidays and even the growing trend for “huts” – secluded and basic accommodation offering an escape into the wilderness – are also thought to have inspired interest in the small building.

According to auctioneer George Douglas, of seller Online Property Auctions Scotland, the unusual property became the focus of heated interest within minutes of its details being posted online.

“Within an hour we had people trying to buy it for £25,000,” he said.

“At that point we knew it would sell for quite a good price, but it ended up outstripping anything we have seen in a while.

“Enquiries were coming in from all over the UK and abroad. We had between 500 and 600 enquiries and for the actual auction we had more than 80 people registered to bid.

“We didn’t expect anything like that for a building like this.”

The old telephone exchange – barely large enough to accommodate a double bed – sits on the south side of Loch Tay, just off the A827, and without a neighbour to be seen for miles.

Killin is around eight miles in one direction, and Kenmore is the same distance in the other.

Mr Douglas said there has been a noticeable trend towards “quirky” and unusual buildings attracting significant interest from buyers, particularly when in attractive rural locations.

Earlier this year, a public toilet in Tarbet on the west shores of Loch Lomond sold for more than £20,000, while the Glasgow-based online auction firm recently sold Borgue Church near Kirkcudbright for £50,000 – around half the price of a garage in some parts of Edinburgh. The B-Listed Gothic-style church has a history that dates from 1150 and a graveyard which contains the mausoleum of the Gordon of Earlston family, including Colonel Sir William Gordon who survived the Charge of the Light Brigade.

In Aberdeenshire, the former Auld West Kirk in picturesque Alford also sold at auction for £40,000.

It’s thought interest in unusual rural properties is being driven at least in part by investors looking to convert them into rental holiday properties for the booming 
self-catering sector.

Mr Douglas added: “Properties that people might not think are worth anything are turning out to be attracting a lot of interest, including churches.

“People are looking for alternative and quirky places either to live in or to use as holiday accommodation.

“What one person thinks is a carbuncle, someone else will look at it and think it will be an ideal holiday home.”

This article first appeared in the Herald on the 12th September 2021. Credit Sandra Dick.