New Toun, Edinburgh

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Auld an New Touns o Edinburgh
UNESCO Warld Heritage Steid
Edinburgh's New Town, viewed from Edinburgh Castle. Princes Street and the Princes Street Gardens are visible in the foreground.
CriteriaCultural: ii, iv
Inscription1995 (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 conseidert tae be a maisterpiece o ceety plannin, an is a UNESCO Warld Heritage Steid. It wis biggit 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 wis designate a UNESCO Warld Heritage Steid thegither in 1995.

Preparin the grund[eedit | eedit soorce]

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

The deceision tae bigg a New Toun wis taen bi the ceety faithers, efter owercroudin inside the Auld Toun ceety waws reakit breakin pynt an fur tae prevene an exodus o walthy ceetizens frae the ceety tae Lunnon.[1] The Age o Enlichtenment haed arrived in Edinburgh, an the ootdatit ceety fabric didnae suit the modren thinkers wha bidit thare. Lord Provost George Drummond succeedit in stendin the boondary o the Ryal Burgh tae encompass the fields norlins o the Nor Loch, the hivily pollutit body o watter whilk occupee'd the strath immediately norlins o the ceety. A scheme tae dreep the Loch wis put intae action, awtho the process wisna fou complete till 1817. Crossin pynts wis biggit fur tae access the new land; the North Bridge in 1772, an the Earthen Mound, whilk began as a tip fur material excavate 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 wis developpit, the rich muivit northwart frae crampit tenements in narrae closes intae grand Georgian hames on wide roads. Housomeivver, the puir remained in the Auld Toun.

The First New Toun[eedit | eedit soorce]

A design competeetion wis held in Januar 1766 tae fynd a suitably modren layoot for the new suburb. It wis wan bi 26 year auld James Craig, wha, follaein the naitural contours o the laund, proponed a semple axial grid, wi a principal througang alang the rig linkin twa gairden squares. Twa ither main roads wis locatit doun the brae norlins an soothlins wi twa minor streets atween. Several mews aff the minor streets providit stable lanes fur the lairge hames. Completin the grid is three north-sooth cross streets.

Craig's oreeginal design haed been fur a centralisin diagonal layoot, reflectin a new era o ceevic Hanoverian Breetish patriotism bi echoin the design o the Union Banner. Whiles simpler, the revised design reflectit the same speirit 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 norlins, 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 wis the names chuisen 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 bein 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 Auld Toun's Sooth Side. Thistle Street's wastmaist blocks wis renamit Hill Street an Young Street, garrin Thistle Street hauf the lenth o Rose Street. The three streets completin the grid, Castle, Frederick an Hanover Streets, wis named efter the view o the castle, Keeng George's faither Frederick, an the name o the ryal faimily respectively.

Development[eedit | eedit soorce]

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

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

The first New Toun wis complete in 1820, wi the completion o Charlotte Square. This wis biggit 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, awtho his design wis supersedit bi that of Robert Reid. The biggin, nou kent as West Register House, nou houses pairt o the National Archives of Scotland. Charlotte Square's north side featurs Bute House — umwhile the offeecial residence o the Secretary o State for Scotland. Syne devolution's introduction intae 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, the First Meenister o Scotland's offeecial residence, 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 tenements alang the north-sooth streets. Shops wis oreeginally generally restricted tae the lawer floors o the wider north-sooth streets. The lairger hooses haed service mews runnin ahint an parallel tae thair terraces. In the First New Toun this paitren wis less rigid, an it haed few planned commercial grund floors.

It didnae tak lang fur the commercial potential o the steid tae be realisit. Shops wis suin appent 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, tho maist o Queen Street an Thistle Street, an lairge sections o George Street, Hanover, Frederick an Castle Streets, are still lined wi thair oreeginal late 18t century biggins. Vera lairge sections o the Seicont New Toun, biggit frae the early 19t century is still exactly as biggit 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 till the Watter o Leith, wi extensions tae the East an Wast. Thir developments teuk place maistly atween 1800-1830. Initial designs follaeed the oreeginal grid orientation o Craig’s First New Toun, wi entire streets bein biggit as ane construction. Biggin continued on an extendit Hanover Street, here namit Dundas Street, amaist 1 km tae the Watter o Leith at Canonmills. Braid streets an grand squares wis laid oot tae aither side. The Picardy Place extension (includin Broughton Street, Union Street an East London Street) wis maistly feenisht 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]

Fur tae stend the New Toun eastart, the Lord Provost, Sir John Marjoribanks, succeedit in gettin the elegant Regent Bridge biggit. It wis complete 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 competeetion for plans tae develop the Eastren New Toun but the result wis inconclusive. Hinderly, designs bi the Airchitect William Henry Playfair wis uised tae develop Calton Hill an Edinburgh’s Eastren New Toun frae 1820 forrit.[5] Playfair’s designs wis intendit tae creaut a New Toun even mair magnificent than Craig's.[6] Regent Terrace, Calton Terrace an Royal Terrace wur biggit but the developments norlins o Lunnon Road wis niver fully completit. On the Sooth side o Calton Hill, various monuments wis erectit as weel as the Old Royal High School in Greek revival style.

A few modest developments in Canonmills wis stairtit in the 1820s but nane wis complete at that time. Fur several decades, the tannage operations o at Silvermills inhibitit 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 biggit. Thir 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] awtho some biggins wur no biggit till 1855.[3]

In the 19t century, Edinburgh's seicont railwey, the Edinburgh, Leith and Newhaven Railway, biggit 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]

Gien the great continuity o the biggit 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, whilk became the Excise or Custom House, wis biggit in 1775, afore the New Toun raxt the aurie, in whit is nou Drummond Place Gardens. Great Keeng Street an Lunnon Street in the Northren or Seicont New Toun wis aligned on this biggin but it wis demolisht in the 1840s due tae the Scotland Street railwey tunnel construction ablo.[7]

Lost streets include the anes in the St James Square aurie, demolisht in the 1960s tae mak wey fur the St James Shopping Centre an offices fur the Scottish Office. This wis demolisht lairgely on the basis o bein slums, but this generally wisnae defined on a structural basis.

Forby demolished as slums wis Jamaica Street bewast 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 includes the Assembly Rooms on George Street, the Balmoral Hotel (umwhile cried the North British Hotel, efter a railwey company) wi its laundmerk 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 conteens Edinburgh's main shoppin streets. Princes Street is hame tae mony chain shops, as weel 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 conseidert an wanwalcome addition tae New Toun airchitectur, it includes a lairge John Lewis branch. Forby, bi the Waverley Railway Station lees the Princes Mall, whilk conteens mony heich street stores.

See an aw[eedit | eedit soorce]

References[eedit | eedit soorce]

  1. a b c 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". Archived frae the original on 9 Juin 2015. Retrieved 1 Mairch 2012.
  3. a b c d e f g h The City of Edinburgh Council (2005). "New Town Conservation Area Character Appraisal". Archived frae the original on 13 Mairch 2012. Retrieved 13 Juin 2011.
  4. "Regent Bridge, Listed Building Report". Historic Scotland. Retrieved 17 October 2009.
  5. Listit building report o 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. a b 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. 4t edition. Oxford: Butterworth-Architecture, 1995. ISBN 0-7506-1860-4

Freemit airtins[eedit | eedit soorce]

Coordinates: 55°57′22″N 3°11′56″W / 55.956247°N 3.198928°W / 55.956247; -3.198928