About The Storehouse
Built in around 1880 as a herring and pork curing store the Storehouse is a grade B Listed Building situated just off Kirkwalls historic stone paved shopping street and very close to St Magnus Cathedral .
The building has been renovated to a very high standard, with unique and original details throughout. In its lifetime, the 19th Century building was used as a herring and pork curing station and then it was owned by the Leonard family and was a print works with stationery, toys and china storage, but in recent years it mainly lay in a state of neglect until Judith Glue and David Spence bought it in 2011.
A few years later it was identified as a priority building by KTHI (Kirkwall Townscape Heritage Initiative). Grant funding was then allocated by KTHI towards the cost of Restoration to bring this B Listed building back into use again and once again become part of the local community.
In 2020 we were delighted to have been highly commended for the IAA Awards ( Inverness Architectural Association Awards ) and won Highly Commended in the " New life for Old Buildinds " category.
Judith is a knitwear designer and manufactures her own collection of Orkney knitwear, which is sold throughout the world. Along with her husband and business partner David, Judith runs the long established business of Judith Glue and The Real Food Cafe and also a second retail outlet in Inverness. David originally trained to be an architect at Glasgow School of Art and was very hands on with the build team in transforming the Storehouse throughout the whole project from planning to the finished build.
Both Judith and David designed the interior as sympathically as possible, re-using all the original wood and stone within the building. Many unusual items were left in the Store when they bought it in 2011 such as the old Swan clay ink bottles, that were used when it was a printing works by the previous owners and the Clydesdale horse shoe that originally hung on the outside door at the top of the stone steps which was put up for good luck in 1880 when it was first built. The W Cooper Kirkwall, lettering on the wooden internal staircase to the rooms was originally part of the remaining wooden stairs on the top floor leading to where the herring used to be smoked. The lettering was printed by burning it onto herring barrels, so they always knew who the owner was when they were shipped down to Leith from Orkney. The Coopers owned the Store in 1890 and owned a fleet of sail masted ships that went from Kirkwall to Leith transporting goods. The original wooden posts and huge beams are from sail masted ships- possibly wrecks run throughout the ground floor bar and seating area and the 1st floor bedrooms. On close inspection you can see small V shaped marks on the posts made by the spikes built into the soles of the sailors boots, the metal spikes allowed them more grip to enable them to climb the masts to hoist the sail cloth. The J M Stevenson and The Leonards signs hung in the main restaurant belonged to the two stationer shops that the Leonard family previously owned in Kirkwall but are no longer in existence, they bring back memories to many young locals as Leonards was an amazing toy shop.
The end result is a wonderful renovation that oozes Orcadian history and uniqueness, mixing the old with the new to enable luxury and comfort for guests . The restaurant also serves local Orkney produce which is made in an open kitchen with a menu that also reflects the nature and history of this fantastic building.