A national conservation charity has expressed its "shock and sadness" at the Ayr Station Hotel fire.

Campaign group SAVE Britain's Heritage was hoping to save Ayr’s crumbling Station Hotel before the fire, and even published what it says is a “game-changing” report on the condition of the building and the prospect of rescuing it from the wrecking ball.

In December 2022, South Ayrshire councillors voted to pursue a demolition strategy for the South Wing of the hotel at a cost of £6.6 million.

However SAVE argued that it was “perfectly practical” to repair and bring the whole building back into use, before yesterday's incident.

Early reports have suggested that the fire damage at the hotel is extensive.

Henrietta Billings, director of SAVE Britain's Heritage, said: "This is a tragic day for Ayr and for historic buildings in Scotland.

"It is shocking that this listed building could be hit by another fire - this time much more serious it seems. It is one of the most fiercely debated and scrutinised buildings in the town. We urgently need a survey of the building now to understand its structural condition following the fire and how much of the station hotel can be saved.

"The causes of the fire must be fully investigated, and those found responsible held accountable."

Ayr Advertiser:

Matthew Mckeague, chief executive officer at The Architectural Heritage Fund, said: "It is extremely tragic to see this, so soon after the report produced by SAVE and funded by the Architectural Heritage Fund demonstrated that the reuse of Ayr Station Hotel was indeed possible.

"Too many historic buildings are lost forever like this, we can only hope that something of the hotel can be salvaged and put back into use."

Jocelyn Cunliffe, vice-chair of the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland (AHSS), said: “The AHSS was dismayed to learn of another serious fire in the former Ayr Station Hotel.

"We hope that this will prove to be a catalyst towards a change of heart for the future preservation of this building and to the recognition that the built heritage is of vital importance to the future of this key historic town.”

Ed Morton, managing director of The Morton Partnership, said: "I was deeply saddened to hear the news of the further fire at The Station Hotel, which I visited only a short time ago and which was found to be in a condition where repairs and re-use of the building was perfectly possible. 

"Whilst the fire has clearly affected the structure, I would imagine the walls and solid floors have survived and can be hopefully re-used."

Two teenagers were arrested following yesterday's incident.