New Toun, Edinburgh

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UNESCO Warld Heritage Steid
Auld an New Touns o Edinburgh
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List
Edinburgh's New Town, viewed from Edinburgh Castle. Princes Street and the Princes Street Gardens are visible in the foreground.
Kintra United Kingdom
Type Cultural
Criterie ii, iv
Reference 728
UNESCO region Europe an North America
Inscription history
Inscription 1995 (19th Session)
Map o the ceety, showin New Toun, Auld Toun, an the West End.

The New Toun is a central aurie o Edinburgh, the caipital o Scotland. It is aften considered tae be a maisterpiece o ceety plannin, an is a UNESCO Warld Heritage Steid. It wis built in stages atween 1765 an aroond 1850, an retains hintle o the oreeginal neo-classical an Georgian period airchitectur.

Its maist famous street is Princes Street, facin Edinburgh Castle an the Auld Toun athort the geographical depression o the umwhile Nor Loch. The Auld an New Touns wur thegither designatit a UNESCO Warld Heritage Steid in 1995.

Preparin the grund[eedit | eedit soorce]

Oreeginal plans tae create a New Toun in Edinburgh date back tae a general concept considered bi Keeng James VII an II in the late 17t century.[1]

The decision tae construct a New Town wis taken bi the ceety faithers, efter owercroudin inside the Auld Toun ceety waws reached breakin point an tae prevent an exodus o walthy citizens frae the ceety tae Lunnon.[1] The Age o Enlichtenment haed arrivit in Edinburgh, an the ootdatit ceety fabric did no suit the modren thinkers who livit thare. Lord Provost George Drummond succeedit in extendin the boondary o the Ryal Burgh tae encompass the fields tae the north o the Nor Loch, the hivily pollutit body o watter which occupee'd the strath immediately north o the ceety. A scheme tae drain the Loch wis put in tae action, although the process wis no fully completed till 1817. Crossin points wur built tae access the new land; the North Bridge in 1772, an the Earthen Mound, which began as a tip for material excavatit durin construction o the New Toun. The Mound, as it is kent the day, reached its present proportions in the 1830s.

As the successive stages o the New Toun wur developed, the rich muivit northwards frae crampit tenements in narrae closes intae grand Georgian hames on wide roads. Housomeivver, the poor remained in the Auld Toun.

The First New Toun[eedit | eedit soorce]

A design competition wis held in Januar 1766 tae fynd a suitably modren layoot for the new suburb. It wis wan by 26 year auld James Craig, who, follaein the natural contours o the laund, proposit a simple axial grid, wi a principal thoroughfare alang the rig linkin twa garden squares. Twa ither main roads wur locatit dounhill tae the north an sooth wi twa minor streets atween. Several mews aff the minor streets providit stable lanes for the lairge hames. Completin the grid are three north-sooth cross streets.

Craig's oreeginal design haed been for a centralisin diagonal layoot, reflectin a new era o ceevic Hanoverian Breetish patriotism bi echoin the design o the Union Banner. Whilst simpler, the revisit design reflectit the same spirit in the names o its streets an ceevic spaces.[1]

Street names[eedit | eedit soorce]

View o the New Toun frae Edinburgh Castle, lairgely obscured bi modren shoppin developments

The principal street wis namit George Street, efter the keeng at the time, George III. Queen Street wis tae be locatit tae the north, namit efter his wife, an St. Giles Street tae the sooth, efter the ceety's patron saunt. St. Andrew's Square and St. George's Square wur the names chosen tae represent the union o Scotland an Ingland. The idea wis continued wi the smawer Thistle Street (for Scotland's naitional emblem) atween George Street an Queen Street, an Rose Street (for Ingland's emblem) atween George Street an Princes Street.

Keeng George rejectit the name St. Giles Street, St Giles being the patron saunt o lepers an the name o a slum aurie or 'rookery' on the edge o the Ceety o Lunnon. It wis tharefore renamit Princes Street efter his sons. The name o St. George's Square wis chyngit tae Charlotte Square, efter the Queen, tae avoid confuision wi the existin George Square on the Sooth Side o the Auld Toun. The wastmaist blocks o Thistle Street wur renamit Hill Street an Young Street, makkin Thistle Street hauf the length o Rose Street. The three streets completin the grid, Castle, Frederick an Hanover Streets, wur namit for the view o the castle, Keeng George's faither Frederick, an the name o the ryal faimily respectively.

Development[eedit | eedit soorce]

Craig's proposals hit further problems when development began. Initially the exposit new steid wis unpopular, leadin tae a £20 premium being affered tae the first builder on steid. This wis receivit bi John Young who built Thistle Court, the first biggins in the New Toun, at the east end o Thistle Street in 1767. Insteid o biggin as a terrace as envisagit, he built a sma courtyard.[2] Douts wur owercome suin enough, an further construction stairtit in the east wi St. Andrew Square.

Craig haed proposed that George Street be terminatit bi twa lairge kirks, situatit athin each square. Sir Lawrence Dundas, the laundawner, decidit tae build his awn hame here, an commissioned a design frae Sir William Chambers. The resultin Palladian mansion, completit in 1774, is nou the heidquairters o the Royal Bank of Scotland. St. Andra's Kirk haed tae be built on a steid on George Street. The lack o a visual termination at the end o this street wis remeedit in 1823 wi William Burn's monument tae Henry Dundas.

The first New Toun wis completit in 1820, wi the completion o Charlotte Square. This wis built tae a design bi Robert Adam, an wis the anerlie airchitecturally unifee'd section o the New Toun. Adam producit a design for St. George's Kirk an aw, although his design wis supersedit by that of Robert Reid. The biggin, nou kent as West Register House, now houses part of the National Archives of Scotland. The north side o Charlotte Square featurs Bute House—umwhile the offeecial residence o the Secretary o State for Scotland. Syne the introduction o devolution in Scotland, Bute House is the offeecial residence o the First Meenister o Scotland.

Montage image o Robert Adam's north side o Charlotte Square. Bute House, offeecial residence o the First Meenister o Scotland, is in the centre.

Redevelopment[eedit | eedit soorce]

Survivin Georgian biggins in Princes Street

The New Toun wis envisagit as a purely residential suburb. In the Seicont New Toun, tounhooses generally occupee'd the east-wast streets, wi blocks o flats (cried tenements in Scotland) alang the north-sooth streets. Shops wur oreeginally generally restricted tae the lawer floors o the wider north-sooth streets. The lairger hooses haed service mews runnin ahint an parallel tae their terraces. In the First New Toun this paitren wis less rigid, an it haed few planned commercial grund floors.

It did no tak lang for the commercial potential o the steid tae be realisit. Shops wur soon opened on Princes Street, an durin the 19t century the majority o the tounhooses on that street wur replacit wi lairger commercial biggins. Occasional piecemeal redevelopment continues tae this day, though maist o Queen Street an Thistle Street, an lairge sections o George Street, Hanover, Frederick an Castle Streets, are still lined wi their oreeginal late 18t century biggins. Vera lairge sections o the Seicont New Toun, built frae the early 19t century are still exactly as built an aw.

Later addeetions[eedit | eedit soorce]

Great King Street. Pairt o the northren extension tae the oreeginal New Toun
Moray Place. Pairt o the wastren extension tae the oreeginal New Toun
Regent Terrace. Pairt o the eastren extension o the oreeginal New Toun
Drumsheugh Gardens. Pairt o the further wastren, Victorian extension tae the New Toun

Efter 1800, the success o the first New Toun led tae grander schemes. The 'Northren New Toun' aimit tae extend Edinburgh frae the North o Queen Street Gardens[3] aw the wey tae the Watter o Leith, wi extensions tae the East an Wast. These developments teuk place maistly atween 1800-1830. Initial designs follaeed the oreeginal grid orientation o Craig’s First New Toun, wi entire streets being built as ane construction. Biggin continued on an extendit Hanover Street, here namit Dundas Street, amaist 1 km tae the Watter o Leith at Canonmills. Broad streets an grand squares wur laid out tae either side. The Picardy Place extension (includin Broughton Street, Union Street an East London Street) wis maistly feenished bi 1809.[3] Tae the Wast o the oreeginal New Toun, Shandwick Place, an extension o Princes Street, wis stairtit in 1805. Development o Melville Street an the aurie North o Shandwick Place follaeed in 1825.[3] The Gayfield Estate (Gayfield Square) extension wis designed in 1807 an frae aroond 1813 the New Toun gradually replacit an developit the aulder veelage o Stockbridge.[3] The Painter Henry Raeburn bocht the Deanhough estate in the Northwast o the New Toun an stairtit development in 1813 wi Ann Street namit efter his wife.[3] In 1822 the Earl o Moray, haed plans drawn up tae develop his estates (includin Moray Place) in the Northwest o the New Toun slopin doun tae the Watter o Leith an aw.[3]

In order tae extend the New Toun eastwairds, the Lord Provost, Sir John Marjoribanks, succeedit in gettin the elegant Regent Bridge built. It wis completit in 1819. The brig spanned a deep ravine wi narrae inconvenient streets an made access tae Calton Hill hintle easier an greeable frae Princes Street.[4] Edinburgh Toun Cooncil organisit a competition for plans tae develop the Eastren New Toun but the result wis inconclusive. Eventually designs bi the Airchitect William Henry Playfair wur uised tae develop Calton Hill an Edinburgh’s Eastren New Toun frae 1820 forrit.[5] Playfair’s designs wur intendit tae create a New Toun even mair magnificent than Craig's.[6] Regent Terrace, Calton Terrace an Royal Terrace wur built but the developments tae the North of London Road wur niver fully completit. On the Sooth side o Calton hill various monuments wur erectit as well as the Old Royal High School in Greek revival style.

A few modest developments in Canonmills wur stairtit in the 1820s but nane wur completit at that time. For several decades the operations o the tannery at Silvermills inhibited development in the immediate vicinity. Frae the 1830s forrit, development slawed but follaein the completion in 1831 o Thomas Telford’s Dean Bridge, the Dean Estate haed some developments built. These includit the Dean Orphanage (nou the Dean Gallery), Daniel Stewart's College, streets tae the northeast o Queensferry Street (in the 1850s), Buckingham Terrace (in 1860) an Learmonth Terrace (in 1873).[3] Plans tae develop the Moray Estate wur drawn up in 1822 an maist steids wur sauld bi 1836,[7] although some biggins wur no built till 1855.[3]

In the 19t century Edinburgh's seicont railwey, the Edinburgh, Leith and Newhaven Railway, built a tunnel unner the New Toun tae link Scotland Street wi Canal Street (later absorbit intae Waverley Station). Efter its closur, the tunnel wis uised tae growe puddock-stuils, an durin Warld War II as an air raid shelter.

Principal losses[eedit | eedit soorce]

Given the great continuity o the built form in the New Toun it is quicker tae leet wha little haes gane, rather than muse on the numerous streets which are unchyngit.

Bellevue House bi Robert Adam, which became the Excise or Custom House, wis built in 1775, afore the New Toun reached the aurie, in wha is nou Drummond Place Gardens. Great King Street an London Street in the Northren or Seicont New Toun wur aligned on this biggin but it wis demolished in the 1840s due tae the construction o the Scotland Street railwey tunnel ablo.[7]

Lost streets include those in the St James Square aurie, demolished in the 1960s tae mak wey for the St James Shopping Centre an offices for the Scottish Office. This wis demolished lairgely on the basis o being slums, but this wis lairgely defined on a nan-structural basis.

An aw demolished as slums wis Jamaica Street at the wast end o the Seicont New Toun.

Cultur[eedit | eedit soorce]

New Toun street lamps

The New Toun is hame tae the National Gallery of Scotland an the Royal Scottish Academy, locatit on The Mound. The Scottish National Portrait Gallery is on Queen Street. Ither notable biggins include the Assembly Rooms on George Street, the Balmoral Hotel (umwhile cried the North British Hotel, efter a railwey company) wi its landmark clock touer abuin Waverley Station, an the Scott Monument.

The Cockburn Association (Edinburgh Civic Trust) is prominent in campaignin tae preserve the airchitectural integrity o the New Toun.

Shoppin[eedit | eedit soorce]

The New Toun contains Edinburgh's main shoppin streets. Princes Street is hame tae mony chain shops, as well as Jenners depairtment store, an Edinburgh institution. George Street, ance the financial centre, nou haes numerous modren bars, mony occupyin umwhile bankin haws, while the new Multrees Walk on St. Andrew's Square is hame tae Harvey Nichols an ither designer shops. The St. James Centre, at the east end o the New Toun, is an indoor maw completit in 1970. Aften considered an unwalcome addition tae New Toun airchitectur, it includes a lairge branch o John Lewis. An aw, bi the Waverley Railway Station lees the Princes Mall, which contains mony heich street stores.

See an aw[eedit | eedit soorce]

References[eedit | eedit soorce]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Glendinning and MacKechnie (2004). Scottish Architecture. Thames and Hudson. p. 120. ISBN 0-500-20374-1. ; citing pamphlet entitled 'Proposals for Carrying on Certain Public Works in the City of Edinburgh'
  2. "Thistle Court". Retrieved 2012-03-01. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 The City of Edinburgh Council (2005). "New Town Conservation Area Character Appraisal". Retrieved 2011-06-13. 
  4. "Regent Bridge, Listed Building Report". Historic Scotland. Retrieved 2009-10-17. 
  5. Listed building report of a house in Regent Terrace Includes historical description of the development of Edinburgh’s Eastern New Town. Accessed 2009-08-10
  6. Youngson, A.J. (2001): “The Companion Guide to Edinburgh and the borders”, Chapter 9 (Calton Hill), Polygon Books, Edinburgh, UK, ISBN 0-7486-6307-X
  7. 7.0 7.1 Gifford, John; McWilliam, Colin; Walker, David (1984). The buildings of Scotland: Edinburgh. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-071068-X. 

Further readin[eedit | eedit soorce]

  • Davey, Andy et al. The Care and Conservation of Georgian Houses: A maintenance manual for Edinburgh New Town. 4th edition. Oxford: Butterworth-Architecture, 1995. ISBN 0-7506-1860-4

Freemit airtins[eedit | eedit soorce]