The buildings which make up the Sail Loft bunkhouse are listed as Category B (of regional importance) by Historic Environment Scotland. They date from the 1700’s and include the former Sail Making Loft, a finely detailed Georgian House and two associated cottages.
Where the bunkhouse stands is known as the Back Green and was once an industrial site used for the manufacture of thread for flax. The area of “green” was used for the bleaching of flax, the reliable water supply from the burn providing ideal conditions for bleaching. The name “Back Green” probably derives from bleaching green. The finished thread was exported to Nottingham and Leicester.
By the early 1800’s, the site contained two groups of buildings – the one to the seaward side operated as a rope making business, while the manufacture of sails took place within the southern range, adjacent to the house and cottages. Sadly the rope works fell into decline and were lost to the sea, but fortunately the former sail making factory, house and cottages survived.
The Nicol/Peterkin family were three generations of rope and sail makers who practiced their trade from the buildings at the Back Green: Nicols of Back Green, Portsoy
. After the Sail Making Loft closed, the cottages continued to be lived in as a smallholding, with a dairy operated in parts of the other buildings.
North East Scotland Preservation Trust acquired the buildings from Seafield Estate in 2006 and in partnership with Portsoy Community Enterprise, undertook the restoration of the buildings: a £2 million project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Coastal Communities Fund and Historic Environment Scotland (through the Portsoy CARS). Loan funding during the construction phase was provided by the Architectural Heritage Fund. The completed bunkhouse is now operated by Portsoy Community Enterprise – the social enterprise which holds the annual Scottish Traditional Boat Festival and operates The Salmon Bothy, The Boatshed and Portsoy Links Caravan Park.