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South Bridge / Cowgate : Edinburgh

Historical and Analytical Assessment of the fire-damaged buildings

by David Connolly
with
Morag Cross
William Kay
Rob Maxtone Graham

Illustrated by
Kenneth MacFadyen

Edited by
John A, Lawson

for The City of Edinburgh Archaeology Service

December 2002 May 2003

Addyman Associates Ltd


Archaeology and Historic Building Services

Capro Building
Castlebrae Business Centre
40 Peffer Place
Edinburgh
EH16 4BB

Tel/Fax :: 0131-661-0123

Company No. : SC178907 / VAT Reg. : 694178785


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

Contents

Part 1 – The Site Record

1. Introduction

2. The Site

3. Methodology
3.1. Recording
3.2. Photography

Part 2 – The Archaeological Record

4. Building Analysis
4.1. The Site Plan
4.2. Cartographic Research
4.2.1. Ground Plans
4.2.2. Early Plans
4.2.3. The 18th century Mapmakers
4.2.4. South Bridge Scheme and Improvements (1780’s and the 19th century)
4.2.5. The Ordnance Survey

5. The Buildings – general discussion


5.1 Buildings 1 – 3
5.2 Buildings 4 – 6 & 12
5.3 Buildings 11
5.4 Buildings 13

6. Elevations
6.1 Elevation 1
6.2 Elevation 2
6.3 Elevation 3
6.4 Elevation 4
6.5 Elevation 5
6.6 Elevation 6
6.7 Elevation 7
6.8 Elevation 8
6.9 Elevation 9
6.10 Elevation 10
6.11 Elevation 11
6.12 Elevation 12
6.13 Elevation 13

7. Excavations
7.1 Introduction
7.2 Investigation
7.3 Summary

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Part 3 – The Historical Record

8 Introduction

8.1 Origins (15th – 16th centuries)


8.11 Introduction
8.12 Methodology
8.13 Land Development and Layout
8.14 Adam’s Square

8.2 The Adam’s Influence


8.21 Introduction
8.22 John Strachey and William Adam, 1729.
8.23 James Hamilton of Olivestob and William Adam.
8.24 John Adam and the Cowgate

8.3 Decline, Improvements and Development (19th – 20th centuries)


8.31 Streets
8.32 Adam Square and South Bridge
8.33 Hastie’s Close
8.34 Buildings 1, 2, 3 & 10
8.35 Building 3, The Bridge and Earlier Views of the Site
8.36 Buildings 4 &5/
8.37 Building 6
8.38 Building 7
8.39 Building 8
8.3.10 Building 9

9 Conclusions

10. Acknowledgements

11. Bibliography

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Figures :
Fig. 1. Location Plan
Fig. 2. Photo : View of Fire Site from Blair Street
Fig. 3. Photo : Methods of Photographic Collection
Fig. 4. Photo : Initial demolition detail of Site
Fig. 5. Photo : Courtyard of Building 12
Fig. 6. Site Plan – showing extant walls and wall lines, levels, elevation/building
locations and excavation.

Fig. 7. Composite View of Fire Site – View 1


Fig. 8. Composite View of Fire Site – View 2
Fig. 9. Composite View of Fire Site – View 3

Fig. 10. Phased Plan – Level 0


Fig. 11. Phased Plan – Level 1
Fig. 12. Phased Plan – Level 2
Fig. 13. Phased Plan – Level 3
Fig. 14. Phased Plan – Level 4
Fig. 15. Phased Plan – Level 5
Fig. 16. Phased Plan – Level 6
Fig. 17. Phased Plan – Level 7
Fig. 18. Phased Plan – Level 8

Fig. 19. Location of 16th/17th century wall lines (rectified and overlaid on present
ground plan)
Fig. 20. Location of mid 18th century structures (rectified and overlaid on present
ground plan)
Fig. 21. Location of late 18th century structures involving the South Bridge (rectified
and overlaid on present ground plan)
Fig. 22. Location of 19th century structures (rectified and overlaid on present
ground plan)

Fig. 23. Historical Map : Moryson 1566


Fig. 24. Historical Map : Rothiemay 1647
Fig. 25. Historical Map : Edgar, 1742
Fig. 26. Historical Map : Ainslie 1780 (prior to South Bridge)
Fig. 27. Historical Map : Clarke 1834
Fig. 28. Historical Map : Post Office 1840
Fig. 29. Historical Map : 2nd Edition 1867 OS Map of Area

Fig. 30. Elevation 1


Fig. 31. Elevation 2
Fig. 32. Elevation 3
Fig. 33. Elevation 4
Fig. 34. Elevation 5
Fig. 35. Elevation 6
Fig. 36. Elevation 7
Fig. 37. Elevation 8
Fig. 38. Elevation 9
Fig. 39. Elevation 10
Fig. 40. Elevation 11
Fig. 41. Photo : View showing complex phases of alteration – Building 13
Fig. 42. Photo : Roll moulding of c. 16th C date inserted into 1790’s construction.
Fig. 43. Elevation 12
Fig. 44. Elevation 13

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Fig. 45. Composite plan showing layout of tenement plots described in text
Fig. 46. Rothiemay Map of area.

Fig. 47. Historical Map : Moryson 1566


Fig. 48. Historical Map : Edgar, 1742
Fig. 49. View of Adam Square in the 1850’s.
Fig. 50. Laying of foundation stone for New College, 1789 : with removal of
Flodden Wall(?), Adam Square and half completed South Bridge
Structures.
Fig. 51. Robert Kay’s Proposal for Mirrored Elevation flanking the Cowgate Bridge.

Fig. 52. Photo : 1870 view showing corner of Adam Square, prior to demolition.
Fig. 53. Photo : 1870 view from Hasties Close of area around Building 11
Fig. 54. View of J & R Allan – 1901
Fig. 55. 1823 Elevation detail from Thomas Hamilton’s designs for buildings 4 & 5
Fig. 56. Sample selection of 19th century Petitions for development. (DoG archives)
– See Appendix 10.3

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South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

South Bridge / Cowgate :: Edinburgh

Outline Historical and Analytical Assessment of the fire-damaged buildings.


Part 1 – The Site Record

1. Introduction

The element of the Cowgate project began with the contracting of


Addyman Associates Ltd by John Lawson the City of Edinburgh Council
Archaeology Service (CECAS) under his Project Management. The brief was
to continue the onsite investigation, historical research and to act as a point
of contact between the various heritage bodies and the onsite contractors
(Dalton Demolition, Will Rudd Davidson Engineers and the City of Edinburgh
Council represented by Robin A damson).

An archaeological presence was maintained on a regular basis, allowing the


recovery of photographic / analytical data to be recovered, where possible,
during the process of demolition and ‘making safe’ of the site. Meetings were
held twice weekly with the above bodies to make informed decisions as to
the practical retention of as much as the building fabric and the coordination
of archaeological recording with the down-taking of dangerous elements
within the fire damaged buildings.

Contiguous with the field works, historians were assigned separate time
periods from the 15th – 20th centuries and a major review of available
resources was undertaken. This review, although not comprehensive,
provided information that informed both the areas of significance that were
assigned a high priority of onsite recording and presented a wealth of detail
on the inhabitants, development and written material that pertained to the
site. The result of the historical survey has shown the potential for continued
work in this area and has highlighted the vast resource of cartographic,
photographic, documentary and pictorial data that is available.

Due to the confines of this project, the information within this report, although
by no means cursory, cannot be seen as exhaustive. The aim to record and
understand the sequence of development of this site has been a great
success, but as with so many ventures, the possibilities for further research and
analysis of this unique window into the development of Edinburgh are
endless.

Addyman Associates would like to dedicate this Report to the Firefighters who
prevented a greater disaster and the owners and occupants of those
buildings lost in the Fire, to whom this was a disaster. We sincerely hope that a
new period of this sites long and fascinating history will rise quickly from the
ruins.

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South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

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South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

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Figure 1 : Site Location

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South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

2. The Site (Figures 1 & 6)

The site is bounded by South Bridge to the E, Cowgate to the N, Wilkie House
Theatre (formerly Cowgate Free Church) and the southern part of Guthrie
Street to the W, and the properties fronting onto Chambers St. to the S. For
the purposes of ease of description the principal structures that fall within the
site area have been numbered individually, 1 – 13. The buildings fronting onto
Chambers St (8 : Traffic Warden centre, 9 : Adam House, and 10 : Biblios Cafe)
were little damaged by the fire but are included for the purposes of
understanding the evolution of this part of the townscape. Likewise Wilkie
House, which escaped substantial fire damage, is included for the same
reasons. Each floor level within the site was assigned a number – Level 0 being
the street level on the Cowgate – due to the nature of the terracing, the
ground plan shows levels 0-2 as the site steps up twice to the south. The
actual limits of demolition however contains only one terrace step, as the
process of demolition and ‘making-safe’ was not required on any of the
buildings that fronted onto Chambers Street, (Buildings 8-10), Wilkie House
(Building 7) was also saved from demolition and Building 6 was reduced to 1st
floor level for safety reasons. The main site that is described within this report
consists of Buildings 1-5 & 11-13) (Figure 2)

3. Methodology

The nature of recording a site that was under a Section 13 order presented a
challenge for normal archaeological techniques; with the pressing
requirements to both opening the South Bridge to traffic and removing the
danger of further collapses, there was no time to spend time recording
elevations in the field using traditional techniques. (Figure 3) It was quickly
decided to digitally record all accessible elevations and ground plans, with a
view to analysing the data after the main works had been completed.
Mason Land Survey had carried out a Laser Scan survey (Figures 30 & 31) of
the major South Bridge and Cowgate elevations, which would allow
reconstruction, if required, of the façades. This survey was incorporated into
the interpretative report, though the façades were still in a raw data format,
with details of the elevations obtained from photography; both digital and
large format prints produced by the RCAHMS.

The task for Addyman Associates was to investigate the internal site elevations
as they became exposed, though often this meant that elevations were only
partially visible at any one time and in many cases were so badly collapsed
that no recording was possible at all. (Figure 4) Although most elevations
were covered during the downtaking process, only 13 elevations have been
presented within this report, as most informative on the site’s constructional
history.

It must be stressed that the information for a near complete reconstruction of


the site would be obtainable from the existing photo-survey, but to produce
such a report would, it is felt, add little to the present interpretation of the site.

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South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

Figure 2: View of site from Blair Street after


initial collapse and demolitions

Figure 3: Example showing how we managed


to record the demolition site

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South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

The following sections outline the procedures and methodology that was
used to record the site; this was a technique of recording buildings that were
in a dangerous state and provided limited access to the actual fabric.
(Figure 5) The achievement is the amount of data that was recovered, where
the alternative was the loss of most of the detailed constructional information
within the heart of a World Heritage Site. The stored information and
photographs would allow further study of these buildings if this were required.

3.1 Recording

To record a site using traditional methods was never an option for this
complex of structures. It was decided to achieve as detailed a record of the
elevations taking into consideration the fluid Health & Safety issues due to the
collapsing buildings, measure and note important features that may be of use
in the assigning of phase periods. It was never expected that the
archaeological investigation of the site would be able to provide a full record
of the area, but by cross referencing sources with historians and the detailed
examination of cartographic sources, it was possible to achieve an
understanding of the process of development from the origins of the site to
the day of the fire.

Each structure was assigned a building number a system that all contractors
involved on the site adopte d. Within these there were the 8 Levels and both
rooms and elevations were assigned a unique number throughout the entire
site. Using this standardised system, it allowed the location of features (also
assigned a context number) such as a window, door or blocking, to be
located within the site as a whole. Normally, each constructional detail and
feature would receive a number, but the sheer volume that this would
produce in this case precluded this level of analysis. However, due to the
detailed photographic coverage, united with the accurate elevations and
ground plans, it would be possible to recreate most of the site and produce a
comprehensive feature analysis. (Figures 7 – 9)

A number of major elevations were recovered – and are described in detail


later. A plan has been prepared to show the location of these, and the
specific drawing number of the elevation will also be referred to within the
report. Many of these drawing cover multiple buildings and levels, but do
provide an overview for the understanding of the vertical developments that
have been carried out on this site.

The process of recording has taken place after the actual structures have
been demolished, but with the high quality of photography, the number of
photographs (some 1500) and the ability to create scaled photo-elevations
that measurements can be taken, this is not seen as a problem in the
comprehension of the long and complex structural history of the site.

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South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

Figure 4: Early demolition works of Building 3 ( Leisureland)


prior to the collapse of the north gable

Figure 5: View of Building 12's rediscovered courtyard


mostly obscured by demolition rubble
3.2 Photography

Photographic recording was seen as the only viable source of data collection
that was available to the archaeologists; however, the possibility of
recovering sufficient measurements from the site was seen as impractical and
dangerous.

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South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

A Photogrammetric Survey package was available that would make the task
of digitally capturing the site a practical option. The use of Photomodeler has
been shown on several occasions (Ossian’s Hall, Dunkeld (Report NTS 2002);
Dryhope Tower, Borders (Report Simpson & Brown 2002); Canna Church,
Canna (Report Kirkdale Archaeology 2000); Gylen Castle, Kerrera (Report
Historic Scotand 2002) etc to allow the rapid and accurate acquisition of
elevation data. The process involves taking photographs of an elevation from
at least 3 separate angles, though normally 8-12 photographs are taken to
maximise the coverage, after which a single diagonal measurement is
obtained. The photos are displayed on screen and the operator marks each
photo with the mouse, tracing and tagging features of interest. PhotoModeler
then combines the photos and locates the marked features in three
dimensions. The marks become accurately measured points, lines or polygons
in a single, unified 3D space. The result is a 3D model that can be transferred
to any graphics or CAD program.

A 3D model is a set of connected 3D points, which represent an object. Three


dimensional points have coordinate values for each of the Cartesian axes
(X,Y, and Z). The points in a 3D model can be connected by lines or by
triangular patches, called surfaces. These connections help the user to
visualize the three dimensions when the model is projected onto a flat surface
such as a computer monitor or a printed page.

No measurement technology can be perfect and all measurement involves


performing approximations. PhotoModeler is no different and has been
compared to other techniques of simple measurement such as using a tape
measure for linear dimensions and a theodolite for 3D measurements. We
have found that the accuracy of a Measurement Project is dependent on a
number of factors:

• the quality of the calibration of the camera and digitiser used,


• the resolution of the camera and digitiser used,
• the geometry of the camera positions, and
• the precision with which the user marks object features as they appear
in images.

For a project done with the high resolution Digital Camera (in this case a 6
MegaPixal Fuji S602) and with reasonable user care, PhotoModeler has been
shown to have a relative accuracy in linear dimensions of around one part in
two thousand (1:2000) for man made objects (with 95% probability). With
higher resolution medium format metric cameras accuracies as high as
1:10,000 have been demonstrated

Using the sub-pixel target marker greatly improves the last factor shown
above (precision of marking). Given that the other factors are taken care of
(good geometry, good camera calibration, etc) one can achieve 1:25,000 or
higher accuracy in a project that is all or substantially all done with sub-pixel
circular target marking.

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A relative accuracy of 1:2,000 means that for an object with a 10m largest
dimension, PhotoModeler can produce 3D coordinates with 5mm accuracy
at 95% (two standard deviations) probability. It has already been shown that
this project has an overall accuracy of +/- 10mm over 10m, which in terms of
the rapid acquisition of points and photographs is an acceptable level of
accuracy.
(Eos Systems Inc. - http://www.photomodeler.com)

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South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

Area of detailed
Survey

Building 6 02

Building 3

12 Trench 2
13
Building 4
Building 5
Building 7 10
08 09
Building 12 01
05 07 06 Building 2
11
06
Building 13
11 11
05

Building 1
04
03
Building 11

Building 8 Building 9
Building 10

0 5 25 m Figure 6 : Site Plan as surveyed with


Location of Building Elevations within
Report and Building Numbers.

Elevation Location & Number


06

Building 10 Structure Unrecorded


Building 5 Structure Recorded

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Part 2 – The Archaeological Record

4. Building Analysis

The buildings that were subjected to demolition and thus archaeological


recording were fewer than those initially affected by the fire. This was a
significant part of the brief, that as many structures as possible should be
retained, and WRD Engineers were responsible for the assessment of structural
integrity. The expertise they showed was most evident in the belief that
stabilisation of the Cowgate Façade was not an option, as the façade was in
immediate danger of catastrophic collapse; an event that took place only a
few days later. By the end of the field project, the buildings that fronted
Chambers Street had been retained, as damage was slight and it was
generally accepted that the integrity of these structures could be maintained
using ties and shoring where appropriate. The Buildings that were demolished
and subject to archaeological investigation were as follows;
Buildings 1 – 6 and 11-13. A total of nine distinct structures. (Building 6 – Wilkie
House, was preserved a Level 0, and recordings was confined to the upper
stories.

Building 11
Adam House

Building 13

Level 4
Building 3
Level 3

Level 2

Level 1
Level 0

Building 4 Building 5
East The Cowgate West

Figure 7 : Composite view of post fire site from Blair Street

The main method of interpretation was the use of digital photography to


rapidly collect large numbers of photographs of the site prior to (and in some
cases, minutes before) the demolition. It was often the case that due to
internal collapse or methods of demolition, that an elevation would only be
partly exposed, and during clearance of rubble, portions of the fabric would
be lost before further photographic survey could continue. The most

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frustrating problem was the inability, due to safety concerns, to take


measurements, or look more closely at certain elements. Due in the main to
expert help from Daltons Demolition, though, it was possible to utilise their
crane operated baskets to look over the site during the demolition.

Building 6 Building 3

Building 5 Building 4
Building 2

Building 1

Building 11

Building 13

West Hasties Close East

Figure 8 : Composite view of post fire site from Adam House

The photographic method for the recording of the site has already been
described in detail in section 3, however it is important to reiterate that the
recoding of this site was anything but conventional, with the actual analysis of
elevations taking place weeks after their demolition. It became clear from
early examination, that the main fabric of the site fell into the 3 broad
categories of

– ‘Late 18th Century’


– ‘Early to Mid 19th Century’
– ‘Mid to Late 20th Century’ alterations

Although the number of photographs taken does provide blanket coverage


of the Fire Site it was decided to reduce the number of fully recorded
elevations to 13 that would best represent the various building phases. (Figure
6). The need to reduce the vast number of elements that would be recorded
- it was also concluded that only major features would be numbered; Doors,
Windows, Walls, Blocking, Stairs etc. and there has been no attempt to
increase the detail past this level, though if this was required in the future, it
would be possible.

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Hasties Close

Building 5
room 5/108
Building 13room 13/11

Building 12room 12/107

Cowgate
Building 11room 11/141

Building 11Stairwell 11/123


Building 4 room 4/105 Building 4 room 4/103
Building 12 room 12/106

Figure 9 : Composite vertical view of post fire devestation

4.1 Site Plan (Figures 10 – 18)

At the time of the project, there were no detailed ground plans available for
the site: a monumental task in itself. The engineers WRD Ltd took on the task
of producing a series of initial plans and cross sections for each Level, based
on the information taken from building warrants, this however was shown to
be missing a great deal of detail. It was the best that could be produced
under the circumstances, and provided a base for all further work; these
plans were annotated and altered when required. Often areas were
inaccessible beneath demolition debris and a brief window of opportunity to
view the fabric would allow only the most cursory of examination; by having
these plans to start with allowed the collation of information that would have
been problematical in there absence.

Once the site had been cleared to ground levels, it became possible to
accurately map the site. A Total Station (Sokishia Set 3B) was used to collect
the data, which was processed and laid out in relation to OS datum an d Grid.
The OS Bench Mark used was found at the Head of the Cowgate as the
closest one to the site was in fact part of the elevation that collapsed on the
night of the 16th December 2002. The closed traverse showed an accuracy of
+/- 20mm in X,Y and +/- 5mm in Z height.

On compilation of final plan, it was possible both to tighten the accuracy of


the WRD plan and scrutinise the historical plans; matching features, structures
etc. This has been useful in creating a model of development for the past 5
centuries. The plan is the first time that each of the structures has been

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accurately surveyed since the compensation plans of the 1860’s compiled


prior to the demolition of several structures on the site.

4.2 Cartographic Research

4.21 Ground Plans (Figures 10 – 18)

The ground and floor plans of this site show the phased development of the
site and as such are self-explanatory. Although there are 8 phases of
construction It is clear that the main elements of the site fall into 5 broad
periods of activity pre 1750s :: 1780s – 90s :: 1823 -1867 :: 1929 :: 1980s
Very little of pre 18th century fabric is visible above ground, with South Bridge
scheme removing the east half of the site and the City Improvements phase
removing the west. The 1929 J & R Allan period of alterations is confined to
internal modifications in the main, without any ground level construction
during this time.

It is clear however that the layout of the site bears out the notion that the
access routes, Closes and Vennels were the deciding factor for each phase
of construction, with the land ownership also playing an important part in
constraining the development. Looking carefully at the ground level plans, it
is easy to see the regular pattern of burgage plots that lie neatly against the
first terrace step, along the line of the vennel that linked Commercial Court to
Hasties Close.

The compilation of these ground plans was problematical in itself, as when


actual site observations were checked against the plans compiled from City
Archive records, the number of missing elements such as doors, windows was
high. In addition, there was no record relating to the relationship of the
buildings, such as butt jointing, which was crucial during the early phase of
the demolition procedure. Neither was there any record of the complex
series of blockings and more importantly flue systems; that allowed a fire to
spread through an intricate arrangement of voids.

It is also important to view the spaces between the buildings, as it is valuable


to understand spatial movement both internally and externally to the
structures, to put into context the number of uses and occupancy that this
site has undergone. It is interesting to compare the organic maze of
passages, stairs and courtyards that make up the western half of the site, with
the geometrically precise imposition of the South Bridge Scheme. Each
reflect the mindset and social history of the periods.

When the present day ground plan was rectified to the early plans and
elevations it became possible to trace the lines of the very earliest structures
on the site (see Figures 19-22) and understand the gradual development that
remained constrained by space and access, allowing the ghost of the 15th
century plan to remain. The one exception of course is the bold stripe across
the Cowgate of the South Bridge, but this to has been incorporated into the
warren of closes and vennels that are integral to the character of the
Cowgate.

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8 phases have been identified and each feature is placed into the relevant
period:

Phase 1 - Pre 1750


Phase 2 - 1750-1785 (Adam Square)
Phase 3 - 1785-1790 (South Bridge Scheme)
Phase 4 - 1820’s (Tenements and Rebuilding)
Phase 5 - 1860’s (City Improvements and Chambers Street)
Phase 6 - 1890’s (J&R Allan acquisition)
Phase 7 - 1929-30 (Major Refurbishment to South Bridge Structures:
By Architect J. Motram)
Phase 8 - 1950’s – Present (Recent Structural changes)

All plans and elevations will show the colour-coded legend relating to these
phases. (See Figures 10-18)

Key To Phase Colours


1 Pre Adam Square pre1760 39
2 Adam Square 1760s
0 Room 6/030 73
10
3 South Bridge Building 1780s
4 Tenement Building 1820s metres
5 Tenement Building 1860s
6 J & R Allen 1890s Hasties Close 37 38
7 J & R Allen 1929 rebuild 72
8 Modern - late 20th century
Level 0 Room
13/010
Room
13/013
42
Room
50 5/172
41

40 Room 5/009
36

35

Room
71 43
74 Room 34
49 5/173
51

4/
Room 13/011

52 68 44 Room 5/008 33

006
70
Room 12/012
Room 53 32
69 5/171 45 Room
13/014 Room 46 5/007
65 48 31
Arcad e
Building 13 54 Building 5

Cowgat
67
47 30
Room 12/017

Room 55 59
75 64 12/018
29
Room

60 e
56 Room 4/005 28
4/006

61
27
Room
Room 12/016 57 62 26
76 63 12/182
25
Room Room 12/015
12/181 58 Room4/003
Building 12 Building 4 24
22
23
Room 12/019 13
Room 3/002 12
21 5
Room 2/020

Room 2/022 3

17 11 Room 3/176 Room 3/001


19 16
Room 2/021

Trench 2 2
18
10
Building 2 66
14 9 1
20 Building 3
15 8
7 6
Room Room Room
Room 26 Room 25 24 23
27

South Bridge

Figure 10 : Level 0 plan (Phased) with feature numbers

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South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

197 195 95 94
Key To Phase Colours
1 Pre Adam Square pre1760 Room 6/053 93
2 Adam Square 1760s 196 193 194
0 10
3 South Bridge Building 1780s
Room 96 Building 6 92
4 Tenement Building 1820s metres 6/054
5 Tenement Building 1860s 114
6 J & R Allen 1890s Room 6/052 98 Room 6/051 91
7 J & R Allen 1929 rebuild Hasties Close
8 Modern - late 20th century
Level 1 118
117 116
115
113

Room 13/031 Room 13/055


Room 5/175 99
97
90

112 111
89
120 119 Room 5/174 100
110
Room 5/050
126 121 108
88
Room 9/068 125 Room 13/056 122
Building 9 123 109 Room 5/049 101
173 132 Building 13 Building 5 87

Cowgate
124 107
102
171 172 484
133 106 86
485 127
Door 170 482
134 483 103
165 164 85
169 Room 12/058
Room Room 12/057 128
161 Room 4/177
168 11/066 105 Room 4/048 84
Room Room 104
10/069 Room 11/065 12/032 129
Room ? 135 83
10/070 130
167 ?
Building 12 82
131
Room 481 Building 4 81
Building 11 166
155 11/067 136

Room 80
10/071 137
162
Room 79
10/072
Room
160 Room 2/059 2/062
78
Room
154 1/063 151 152 146 144

145
159 Room 3/029 Room 3/028
158
Room 77
1/064 143
Room 2/060 Room
2/061
Building 10 Building 1 Building 2 Building 3
139 138

157 156 153 150 149 147 148 142 141 140
South Bridge

Figure 11 : Level 1 plan (Phased) with feature numbers

Key To Phase Colours


1 Pre Adam Square pre1760 192
2 Adam Square 1760s Room
0 10 Room 6/099
3 South Bridge Building 1780s 6/100
191
4 Tenement Building 1820s metres
5 Tenement Building 1860s
Building 6
6 J & R Allen 1890s 198 190
7 J & R Allen 1929 rebuild
Hasties Close
199
8 Modern - late 20th century
Level 2 Room 13/098
208
207
Room 5/097 200
189

211
206 205 Room 5/094 188
204 Room 5/096 201
209 Open 187
Room 9/082 348 480 Building 13 area
Building 9 212 479 203Room 5/095 202
Room 9/081 210 Building 5 186
Cowgate

Room 10/080
250 213 214 185
477
478 475 474 473 472 471 468
249 476 216 470 469
164 184
Room 4/178
Room 10/078 Room 12/089 215 Room 4/093
Room 11/083 183
Room 10/079
Room 10/077 246
Room 4/092 182
Open
Room 10/076 245 area Building 12
181
11/084
467 Open
Building 11 244 area Building 4 180
242
248 234
218 217
247 Room 2/088 Room
243
240 241 3/179 179
239 233
219
Room 178
237 1/085 Room
Room 10/075 Room 10/074 Room 10/073
3/091
Room 1/086 177
235 Room 2/087 220 Room 3/090 Link Bridge
236
176
227
232 231 230
Building 10 Building 1 Building 2 225 Building 3 175 174
Room 3/033

229 228 226 224 223 222 221


South Bridge

Figure 12 : Level 2 plan (Phased) with feature numbers

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 16


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

Key To Phase Colours


1 Pre Adam Square pre1760 272
Room 6/109
2 Adam Square 1760s
0 Room
3 South Bridge Building 1780s
10 6/110
274
Building 6 271
4 Tenement Building 1820s metres
5 Tenement Building 1860s
270
6 J & R Allen 1890s
Hasties Close
273
7 J & R Allen 1929 rebuild 269
8 Modern - late 20th century
Level 3 Room 13/111
275
268

267
287 276 Room 5/108
286 266
Room 9/112 Building 13
Room 9/115 Building 9 347 346 288 277
285 Building 5 265

Cowgate
278 264
289 345 466 465 263
464 463 462
284 Room 4/180
290 164 Room 12/107 279
Room 10/113 262
Building 12

261
291 Room 4/103
Room Room 4/105 280
260
10/117
Room 10/118 Room 11/122 Open 283
292 area Room 12/106
259
11/123 Open area
461 4/104
Building 4
Building 11 293 297 257 258
282
294
256
255
300 295 298 296
306
299
254
302
Room 10/119 301
Room 10/120 253
Room 1/124 Room
Link Bridge
303 1/125 Room 3/101
Room 2/102 252
305
Building 10 Building 1 Building 3
304 Building 2 251

South Bridge

Figure 13 : Level 3 plan (Phased) with feature numbers

312 311
Key To Phase Colours
1 Pre Adam Square pre1760 310 309
2 Adam Square 1760s
0 Room Room 6/142
10 6/143
3 South Bridge Building 1780s
308
4 Tenement Building 1820s metres
5 Tenement Building 1860s
Building 6 307
6 J & R Allen 1890s Hasties Close
7 J & R Allen 1929 rebuild
8 Modern - late 20th century
Level 4
Building 9 Room 10/139
Cowgate

Room 10/136
Room
10/138

Room 10/135 Room 11/141

Room 10/134
Room 10/137 339
338
342 Room 3/180
341 460
337 457 456
Building 11 459
355
353 352 351 350
334 354
458
Room 10/133 Room 10/132 336 Room 3/129
333 335 317
332 349
331 316
Room
Room 10/130 330 1/127
Room
Room 10/131 Room 3/128 315
1/126

340 329
314
328
327
Building 10 Building 1 Building 3 313

326 325 324 323 322 321 320 319 318

South Bridge

Figure 14 : Level 4 plan (Phased) with feature numbers

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 17


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

Key To Phase Colours


1 Pre Adam Square pre1760
2 Adam Square 1760s
0
3 South Bridge Building 1780s
10
4 Tenement Building 1820s metres
5 Tenement Building 1860s
6 J & R Allen 1890s
Hasties Close
7 J & R Allen 1929 rebuild
8 Modern - late 20th century
Level 5
Room 10/154

Cowgate
Room 10/153

Room 10/152

Room 10/151

453
455 Room 3/145
394 396 397 398 399
390 391 392 357 356
400
454
Room 3/146
393 358
389 401
395
Room 10/150 388 Room
1/148 359 360
386
387 361
Room 10/149 Room 3/144
384 385
362
Room 1/147
383 363
Building 1 Building 3
382 364

381 380 379 378 377 376 375 374 373 372 371 370 369 368 367 366 365

South Bridge

Figure 15 : Level 5 plan (Phased) with feature numbers

Key To Phase Colours


1 Pre Adam Square pre1760
2 Adam Square 1760s
0
3 South Bridge Building 1780s
10
4 Tenement Building 1820s metres
5 Tenement Building 1860s
6 J & R Allen 1890s
7 J & R Allen 1929 rebuild
Hasties Close
8 Modern - late 20th century
Level 6
10/165
Room

Cowgate

Room 10/164

Room 10/163 Room


10/162

452
432 434 435 436 437 439 440 441

428 429 430 451 438


431 Room 3/157
Room 3/156
Room 10/161 433
427 Room
426 1/159
425
424 402
Room 10/160
420 Room 1/158
Room 3/155
421 423
422
Building 10 Building 3
Building 1

419 418 417 416 415 414 413 412 411 410 409 408 407 406 405 404 403
South Bridge

Figure 16 : Level 6 plan (Phased) with feature numbers

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 18


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

Key To Phase Colours


1 Pre Adam Square pre1760
2 Adam Square 1760s
0
3 South Bridge Building 1780s
10
4 Tenement Building 1820s metres
5 Tenement Building 1860s
6 J & R Allen 1890s
7 J & R Allen 1929 rebuild Hasties Close
8 Modern - late 20th century
Level 7

Room 10/166

Cowgate
448
449

Room 10/167 447

445 Room 1/168


446

444 443

Room 1/169

Building 10 Building 1

442
South Bridge

Key To Phase Colours


1 Pre Adam Square pre1760
2 Adam Square 1760s
0
3 South Bridge Building 1780s
10
4 Tenement Building 1820s metres
5 Tenement Building 1860s
6 J & R Allen 1890s
7 J & R Allen 1929 rebuild
Hasties Close
8 Modern - late 20th century
Level 8
Cowgat
e

450

Room 1/170

Building 1

South Bridge

Figure 18 : Level 8 plan (Phased) with feature numbers

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 19


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

Figure 19 : Based on Rothiemay’s (1647) and Morysons(1598) Maps of Edinburgh :


Probable layout of structures on present site from 16th century date.

Figure 20 : Plan showing possible 1700's structures overlay

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 20


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

Figure 21 : Plans showing 1790's overlay

Figure 22 : Plans showing period 1823 overlay

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 21


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

4.22 Early Plans (Figures 23 & 24)

The Cowgate was first mentioned by name in 14291, though it is quite possible
that this new fashionable suburb had been in existence from at least the late
13th century. By 1529 the Cowgate is described as ‘where the nobility and the
chief men of the city reside, in which are palaces of the officers of state, and
where nothing is mean or tasteless, but all is magnificent’2.

The earliest cartographic representations of the Cowgate and indeed


Edinburgh are the engraved views of Moryson (1566) and Gordon of
Rothiemay (1647). The plan by the English spy Moryson, chose the vantage
point of Salisbury Crags, albeit schematised, it shows an otherwise accurate
portrayal of mid 16th century Edinburgh. It is clear that by this date, some 100
years after the creation of the Cowgate as a residential suburb the
development is well advanced in the area, a fact attested by the previous
documentary evidence that provides the evidence of lands being sold
off/subdivided and redeveloped (see section ****). The Flodden Wall,
originally constructed in the period 1513-1514, is a prominent feature of this
and other maps, which allows a certain degree of confidence when
matching structures with present features. It is clear that the Mansions of the
rich sit up-slope of the Cowgate, with Gardens to the south and residential
property built down slope to meet with the Cowgate thourghfare.

Rothiemay’ well known image of Edinburgh (Figure 24) once again shows the
site, 50 years later, showing that the area of the site is now an island of
gardens surrounded by ever encroaching tenement expansion. It is possible
to match the Closes from this map, and Hasties Close (a name that was only
given to this alley around 250 years ago3) The lands to the east and west of
the site are now almost completely built up, with housing, leaving an island of
untouched gardens that run back from the still extant Mansions.

1 RCAHMS, 1951, xli


2 ibid.
3 The Place names of Edinburgh 456465465

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 22


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

Figure 23 : View of Edinburgh by English Spy, Moryson in 1566, showing approximate


location of the site
South Bridge

Site

Chambers Street

Figure 24 : Rothimay’s map of Edinburgh with the site and present roads shown.

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 23


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

4.23 The 18th century Mapmakers (Figures 25 & 26)

The first true street maps of Edinburgh are to be found in the 18th century;
mapmakers such as Edgar and Ainslie, surveyed the City (with admittedly
margins of error that are measured by the meter), showing every Close and
Street and allowing the Views of Rothiemay (1647), Moryson (1566) and the
Camera Obscura engraving by Sandby (1746) to be fixed within the present
layout of the Old Town. What is most evident is the expansion of building
work, over the previous 100 years, which coincides with the decline in fortunes
of the Cowgate from fashionable suburb to slum. It is interesting to note the
errors in scale when attempting to survey from the Cowgate to the south,
through the narrow confines of the Closes.

It therefore has been possible to reconstruct the street patterns for this period.
Matching structures from map to map and with the aid of documentary
evidence of tenement layout (see section 4.1 for details) placing the exact
position of walls and features is possible to an accuracy of +/- 500mm. This is
due also to the nature of the original burgage plots, which have, perhaps
surprisingly, remained intact to the present in the original frontage size of
approx 5 m.
South Bridge

Cham bers Street

Figure 25 : Edgar, 1742, prior to Adam Square

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 24


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

e
ridg
th B
Sou
et
b er s Stre
Ch a m

Figure 26 : Ainslie 1780 (Surveyed prior to South Bridge).

4.24 South Bridge Scheme and Improvements (1780’s and the


19th century) (Figures 27 & 28)

The important cartographic evidence relating to the area from this period,
are the plans drawn up for the South Bridge Scheme and the affected
properties, ground plans of tenements from 1823 and the compensation plans
created for the 1860’s improvements.4 These are detailed in a way that was
not possible for the city as a whole. Accuracy was all-important, as each
inch was a financial issue. Drawing of tenement floor plans, and the designs
of Thomas Hamilton (see Figure 22) allow us an unparalleled degree of
accuracy in locating wall lines and features within the site.

4 DC6353 - 18th century with annotation of 1872, stating that the plan was
produced at meeting of Works Committee of Improvement Trust, 1872 signed
by David Cousin. Shows Tron Church to Adam Square, antedates South
Bridge. Edinburgh Central Library holds Boog Watson’s compilation of this
map, superimposed on1852 1st edn OS map

2 plans of Adam Square and Cowgate, DC6319 copy c1930’s of survey before
South Bridge built - feuing strips/lots superimposed.
Plan showing east side of Bridge from Cowgate to College St pencilled in.

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 25


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

Figure 27 : Clarke, 1834, prior to Chambers Street construction

Figure 28 : Post Office 1840 Map of area, used to locate residents within the site.

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 26


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

4.25 Ordnance Survey (Mid 19th century – Present) (Figures 29)

The onset of Ordnance Survey mapping of the area, in the mid 19th century,
and subsequent editions, has been useful to a certain extent. However, as
most of the major building works in the area took place prior to the Ordnance
Survey it is of little use in the understanding of the development of the site.
However, tied with the Post Office maps, which are of limited use as accurate
plans, it has been possible to assign buildings to specific persons or uses,
which would allow the tracing of properties further back in time.

Figure 29 : 2nd Edition 1867 OS Map of Area

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 27


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

5. The Buildings – general discussion

As most of this has been covered in the previous section, in far greater detail this
section is included as a synopsis of the retrievable history as seen from a purely site
recorded project.

(Figure 6 for locations)

5.1 Buildings 1 – 3

These buildings can be seen as the most significant structure on the fire site as
they form the southern extent of the South Bridge Scheme of Robert Kay.
Sadly, with the collapse of the North Pedimented Gable Elevation, the last
major surviving element of the original building was lost. This section of the
South Bridge Scheme was begun in the late 18th century, as the final vision of
a unified scheme that stretched from the Tron and Hunter Square, along the
South Bridge and ending with Adam Square.

Although the original design by Robert Adam was rejected as too expensive,
Robert Kay continued the vision at least to create – one connected design,
every separate House makes only a part of the whole – The buildings were
symmetrically composed as palace fronts with simple pedimented endpieces
and centrepieces, with regular fenestration and arcaded ground floors. This
was the first major building project in Edinburgh where the concept of a
unified design was put into practice.

However, this design was soon compromised by the needs of commercial


properties and this (along with the North Bridge) allowed South Bridge to
become one of the most fashionable commercial thoroughfares in Victorian
and Edwardian Edinburgh. One has only to look at the roll of petitioners in the
19th century to see the difference between the rise of the great department
store; J & R Allan, and the number of pawnbrokers and gin shops in the
Cowgate to understand the contrast.

J & R Allan’s architect in the 1920s was J. Motram and under him the most
fundamental changes to the structures was undertaken; one of the most
radical changes until the present day. The greatest surprise was the Façade
(Levels 3-5) on the South Bridge being entirely of timber panel construction
that had been cleverly disguised as a Greek revival stone facing. It soon
became apparent that the entire internal structure of Buildings 2, 3, (along
with Building 11 and parts of Building 4) had been removed and a steel girder
frame inserted at this time (probably through the South Bridge Façade). The
grand Art Deco Interior now only resides in the original plans (RCAHMS) and
photographs, though the original 1790s interiors had been lost, albeit 70 years
ago.

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 28


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

5.2 Buildings 4 – 6 & 12

During the time of City Improvements in the early and mid 19th century, a
concerted effort was made to develop the Cowgate in a way that would
both raise the quality of life, and provide housing for the poor. The grand
Cowgate Façade, with the elegant arcade to visually join the elegant South
Bridge to the poverty stricken Cowgate; behind this façade were tenements.

These structures were built around 1823/4 by the as yet unknown architect
Thomas Hamilton for John Spittal, though they are still bedded directly onto
the medieval buildings they replace. Use and reuse of these structures has
led to level changes, blockings and openings, reorganisation of flues and
additional stories added. This has led to a warren of concealed cavities that
had a direct effect on the spread of the 2002 fire. This was best represented
in Building 12, where, in the west elevation it was possible to view a raising of
the roof to allow the attic to be converted into habitable space, a number of
blocked fireplaces and the insertion of joists directly into flue cavities (Figure
33)

Much of the original layout of the tenements survives the 20th century
remodelling, with the courtyard elevations (Figures 35, 36 & 37) retaining the
cast iron balconies that once looked out over an external court, with multiple
door entries for the various tenants. The south of the properties is still bounded
by a vennel that although subsequently covered and disconnected from the
Commercial Court to the east had formed a lateral link from Commercial
Court to Hasties Close. This ha d been incorporated into the more recent use
of the structure as a hallway, with Building 11 bounding it to the south.

The character of the buildings was very much intact, with multiple entrances,
communicating closes and passages as well as the internal stairwells leading
to various floors. The original buildings had been constructed to form a mixed
residential / commercial property. It was evident that this mix of use had
continued into the 21st century, though most of the property was used by The
Gilded Balloon; who even utilised the central courtyard as a theatre space
with the stage set against the west wall and bar above.

Building 6, on the west side of Hasties Close is built once again in the 1820s,
but more than any other structure on this site, reflected the exact dimensions
of the original burgage plots. The frontage on to the Cowgate is narrow (c.
5m) and it stretches back to the south. Presently the lower floor is used as the
bar for Faith Nightclub, though it is clear that the original 3 story structure was
increased in size in the early 20th century using glazed bricks, to increase the
storage space of the clearly commercial property. It has been mostly used as
a warehouse until recently.

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 29


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

5.3 Buildings 11

The building occupying the extreme south of the site that was subject to
demolition was well built in character. It was clearly adjoined to the existing
South Bridge structures (Building 1). It is interesting to note the total lack of
windows on the south elevation, which must point to the Chambers Street
properties being already in existence, placing it in the post 1860,s period. The
original use of the structure is difficult to infer, as the entire internal space was
removed during the 1929 refurbishment of the J & R Allan Stores. It is clear
that the original wooden floors correspond to the levels of the structures to
the south, but beyond this it is a presumption that it was some form of storage
property. There are no signs of fireplaces in any elevation, which also point to
a non-residential use.

It is interesting that the lower courses of the structure that the tooling seems to
conform to mid - late 18th century stonework, this suggests part of this wall is a
survival of a structure that would have been contemporary with the Adam
Square phase of the site – c. 1760s

5.4 Buildings 13

This structure is both the most interesting and most difficult to interpret
structure on the site. The distinctive dogleg plan of the south wall can be
traced back at least to the 17th century (using Rothiemay’s Map – 1647:
Figures 24). The problem arises in the large amount of remodelling that has
taken place on this structure; it is clear from the architectural fragments that
form the substantial part of the Hasties Close elevation (see Appendix 1.7)
that the main fabric dates to after 1800. The windows on the south elevation
are also clearly inserted during the mid 18th century; based on brick typology.
Though they themselves had undergone alteration in both the mid 19th
century and early/mid 20th century. The arched opening in the wall (now
blocked), with stairs leading to a now blocked door, represents an alternative
entrance into the building from Hasties Close, in addition to those internal to
the site itself. (see Figs 34 & 40)

The south elevation though does contain the earliest fabric on this site – and
although difficult to date without resorting to analysis of the mortar would not
be later than the 1700s.

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 30


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

6. Elevations

6.1 Elevation 1 – External East Facing South Bridge Elevation (Figure 30)

The main South Bridge Elevation was recorded digitally by Masons Land
Survey, using a Laser Scanner (Figure 12) and extends from level 3-7of this
frontage. Buildings 1, 2 & 3, prior to demolition this elevation was thought to
represent the Robert Kay Scheme, it quickly became apparent that this
frontage was in the whole an early 20th century rebuild. Only Building 1
retained elements that could be assigned to the 1780/90s phase of
construction.

The ground level shop fronts (Level 3) had removed all traces of the original
frontage. The architect for J & R Allan, a Mr J. Motram, had fronted this level
with polished black marble, and replaced the interior completely with a steel
girder frame in the 1920s. This renovation had also involved the removal of
the stone frontage and replacing it with a cunning subterfuge of wooded
panels, created to resemble stonework. Only during the demolition process
was the existence of this technical detail observed. The original roofline was
also raised to allow a further floor to be added (Level 6) which required the
removal of the original roof structure and the incorporation of the north gable
into the main wall fabric.

The rectangular raised angular moulded windows can only be glimpsed on


Level 5 of Building 1, with Level 4 windows matching those in Buildings 2 & 3 in
an art deco style. The Level 6 arched windows, although similar to those on
the same level as Buildings 2 & 3, are half the width. Building 1 also extends a
further story (Level 7) beyond the buildings on either side, to give the
impression that this structure was built with two equal flanking wings.

Building 10 to the south, is part of the creation of Chambers Street in the


mid/late 19th century City Improvements, it is attached to what was originally
the terminus of this side of the southwest side of th South Bridge Scheme and
occupies the area that would once have held Adam Square.

It is interesting to note that the original scheme would only stood 3 stories (and
an attic space) above the Bridge Level, though the sub levels extended
down a further 3 stories to the Cowgate. The geometrical symmetry of the
original design is quite evident and based on a simple cube, with an internal
measurement of c. 36ft, borne out by the distance between the original floor
levels of c. 12ft. Buildings 1 – 3 each retain an internal width and depth
measurement of 36ft and Robert Kay’s design basically involved the stacking
of 2 cubes, one above the South Bridge and one below, capped with a roof
structure with Pavillioned & Pedimented Gables at each end.

This 1929 South Bridge frontage was sadly both the most altered and most
interesting reinterpretation of the Unified Scheme, creating a self contained
unification that, although not conceived in the original design, retained its
spirit.

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 31


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

Elevation 1

Elevation Location

Level 8
South North

442 Level 7

Level 6
416 415 414 413 412 411 410 409 408 407 406 405 404 403

376 375 374 373 372 371 370 369 368 367 366 365 Level 5
378 377

326 325 324 323 322 321 320 319 318 Level 4

496 495 494 493 492 491 490 489 488 487 486
Level 3

Building No. 10 Building No. 1 Building No. 2 Building No. 3


0 5
metres

Figure 30 : Elevation 1. South Bridge frontage

6.2 Elevation 2 – External North Facing Cowgate Elevation (Figure 31)

The main Cowgate elevation contains 4 main phases of construction /


development and contains elevations belonging to Buildings 3,4,5 & 6. There
was no requirement to record Wilkie House (Building 7), as damage was slight
and there was no threat of demolition to the fabric. This elevation was also
recorded by Masons Land Survey using Laser Scanners.

The east section of this elevation contains the much altered remains of R.
Kay’s Pedimented Pavillion Gables (Figure 36). This was one of 4 (3 are still
remaining) that flanked the Arch over the Cowgate and mirrored each other
across the divide. The original fabric was easy to identify, as was the outline
of the gable pediment, which dates to the final phase of South Bridge
construction in the 1790s. The upper level (Level 6) was extended in the
1920’s as part of J. Motrams redevelopment of the J & R Allan Store, turning
the attic space into useable floor space. A small half circle aperture, with a
square window light and ironwork balcony, penetrates this level. The cornice
work had been removed flush with the main wall previously, with only the two
angles at the east and west corners retained.

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 32


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

Elevation 2

East

Level 6
Elevation Location
402
West
Level 5
364 362 361 359 358

363
360
307 308 309 Level 4
313 314 315 316 317

251 252 253 254 255 258 259 260 261 262 263 265 266 267 268
270 271 272
Level 3

South 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192
Bridge Level 2

497 077 078 079 080 081 082 083 084 085 086 087 088 089 090 091 092 093
Level 1

001 002 003 004 012 024 025 026 027 028 029 030 031 032 033 034 035 036 038 039 Level 0
073

Building No. 3 Building No. 4 Building No. 5 Building No. 6

0 5
metres

Figure 31 : Elevation 2. Cowgate frontage

Levels 4 & 5 contain 10 large rectangular windows with, though a small


rectangular window seems to have inserted between the two extreme east
windows on Level 5, and the second from the west, also on Level 5, had been
blocked with a blind stone facing. None of the windows have any form of
surround moulding, though the Level 5 windows have angular sills, while those
on Level 4 sit directly on a broad plain cornice band.

The windows on Level 3 of Building 3 (the street level of the South Bridge) are
arched with a false balcony and stone rails. The eastern window is no longer
present, leaving only 4 windows. This 5th missing window had been removed
during the 1920’s renovations, though a door remains in its place. The area
around this aperture is skinned in black marble, as with the rest of the art
deco exterior on the South Bridge ground level.

The Cowgate levels 0 – 2 are an exact match of the upper levels 3 – 5, with
arched openings on the street level and rectangular windows on the further
upper two levels. The western window on Level 0 has been built to provide an
entrance to Commercial Close. The west wall of this close formed the west
wall of the South Bridge Scheme and follows the line of an original medieval
plot boundary. The wall also supports the abutment wall structure for the
tenements located to the west.

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 33


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

The most obvious alteration on this section of elevation is the construction in


1929 of the Link Bridge, built to join the North and South J & R Allan stores at
Level 2. The Bridge is unusual in that it is constructed as a box girder form with
a facing of stone that should mirror the original construction. Although
designed to match the original, the Link Bridge has a much shallower arch
than the South Bridge Arch, and in addition removes the symmetry of the
original gable. Beneath the Link Bridge the original arched ground level
window still remains.

Thomas Hamilton designed the remaining listed Façade that extends to the
west along the Cowgate in 1823, being one of his ‘unknown’ designs during
his early career. Later he went on to be a leading Greek revival architect,
including the Old High School Building on Calton Hill. The Façade was
designed to extend the buildings into the Cowgate and originally had ground
level of arched windows and doors into shopping areas with 3 stories of
residential and storage above. Buildings 4 & 5 are part of the early City
Improvements scheme, and are designed to continue the simple elegance
and arcaded appearance of the South Bridge Structures. Hamilton has
cleverly drawn the eye down Blair Street with the illusion that the 1790s
Buildings extend into the Cowgate, in the hope of joining the ‘upper’ and
‘lower’ cities of Edinburgh. The fabric is of sandstone ashlar blocks, with slate
roofs. The extent of these buildings is bounded by Hasties Close to the West.
In the 1980s, the City of Edinburgh Council returned the pavement to the
original location by reopening the windows and doors on the ground floor
(Level 0) and creating an Arcade.

Building 6 is bounded to the west by Wilkie House and was originally a 3 story
building when built in the 1800s and overlies Hasties Close. The early 20th
century sees the building extended a further story (Level 4) with much of the
reconstruction completed with glazed white bricks, the frontage is still of plain
sandstone, with rectangular windows with no mouldings. The Ground Floor
(Level 0) has been converted into a Public House in the 20th century and the
original entrance to the Warehouse blocked on the frontage to the
Cowgate.

6.3 Elevation 3 –North Facing Elevation of Buildings 1 &11 (Figure 32)

This elevation begins in the east with the internal elevation of the Final Gable
end of the South Bridge Scheme. This would have been the match of the
elevation still extant the overlooks Hunter Square to the North, in this case the
view would have been over Adam Square. There are two basic periods of
activity that visible in this elevation, the original 1790s phase and the
remodelling of the interior by Motram in the late 1920s. Blocked openings
within the elevation (Levels 1 – 5 [382, 328, 304, 387, 388, 330, 332, 301, 300,
237, 239, 160 & 162}) show the arrangement of windows are an exact match
with those seen on the Gable elevation of the Cowgate (Elevation 2), the
main difference is the need to step up a terrace due to the slope to the
south. There is also the evidence for fireplaces on each floor, all now blocked
with brick. The raising of the roof level in the 1920s is evident on Level 6 with
brick being used to create another useable level; the original gable is visible

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 34


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

as the stonework beneath the brick. All the original joist holes are present,
and show the 12’ high floor levels used as part of the design.

During the redevelopment of the Site in the late 1920s, the buildings to the
south were already present and were part of J & R Allan. To aid movement
through the store, J. Motram penetrated the elevation with large openings on
Levels 1-5 joining the store buildings. It seems that the floor levels were mostly
removed during this phase and the entire interior was gutted, with a steel
girder frame built throughout this structure and Building 11. Surviving details
were the Art Deco side panels within the doorways, which could be closed at
the end of trading to secure the store.

Level 8
East West

Level 7

Level 6

Level 5

Level 4

Level 3

Level 2

Level 1

Building 1 Building 11
0 5
metres

Figure 32 : South internal elevation of Buildings 1 and 11

To the west is the south wall of Building 11, which has been abutted to the
1790s structure and is stone built. Unusually, this structure has no windows,
and would suggest that the Chambers Street buildings are already extant by
its constraint. Two vertical quioned channels are inset into the construction
from Level 4 – 2, the function must be drainage, and they are located at the
extreme east and west of the elevation.

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 35


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

Elevation 3

Original 1790's gable


Room
Level 8 1/170 Elevation Location
East West
501 446 1929 additions
502 Room
Level 7 Room
1/169 Door 1/168
445

422
424 Room
423 Door 1/158
Level 6 420 425 427
421 426

387
386
Door Room 388 389 Quoined channel
Level 5 382
384 1/147`
383
385

328 Door Door


329 Room 341 Room 11/141
Level 4 327 340 1/126
332
333
331
330 342

Quoined channel Room 12/107


Room Door
Level 3 305 304 Door 302 299
Room 11/083 290
303 1/124
Quoined channel
301 300 164

Door Room Room 11/083 Door


Level 2 236 1/086 240 249
South Bridge blocking
237 239
164
Door brick
158 Room 161
Level 1 159 1/064 Room 11/065
160 162 Door
165

Building 1 Building 11
0 5
metres

Figure 32 : South internal elevation of Buildings 1 and 11


Three further 1920s openings [290, 249 & 165] are located in the west of the
elevation at Levels 1-3, they are directly comparable with those to the east,
being of brick/steel construction and stacked on above the other. A further
door was located on Level 4 at the top left, with the remains of stairways
burnt into the wall. Original floor joists were present, though once again the
structure has been gutted and an internal steel girder frame inserted.

6.4 Elevation 4 –East Facing Elevation through Buildings 11,12 & 4


(Figure 33)

This north-south cross section through the site is a good indication on the later
development of the site, showing the Improvements Scheme and the
complex sequence of passages, Closes & Courtyards that now characterise
the area.

The southern section of the site contains Building 11 and a remnant of a small
close (part of Commercial Close) that joins to Hasties Close. This building
seems to be of one build, with angled openings/windows on Levels 2 & 3 [250

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 36


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

&289] and a doorway at Level 1. The build is of rough coursed sandstone with
cut quoins.

This building is recognisable as the United Secessionist Church of the early 19th
century, the doorway on Elevation 3 on Level 4 would be the entrance from
Adam Square, and the door [173] on Level 1 to Hasties Close would be a
secondary entrance.

Directly abutting this building to the north is a wall tipped with iron railings and
penetrated with a doorway, opening onto Hasties Close. This is the terminus of
the Commercial Close mentioned above.

To the north of this narrow close is a tenement – Building 12. This building
matches directly the tenement photographed in the 1870s (Figure 53). The
main construction must date to the 1820s as the form and build of the fabric is
typical of that period. The building comprises of 3 main stories (Levels 0 – 2)
and a attic space (Level 3). Raised at a later date to accommodate further
living space. A door has also been created in the top left of the new attic
space to connect with Building 13 to the west.

A significant portion of the elevation is part of the earlier fabric of Building 13,
mainly to the south. There is a later opening on the lower Level 0, where a
brick skin has been used to strengthen the early sandstone fabric. Fireplaces
appear on levels 1-3 with recessed cupboards along the south elevation. It is
possible that another blocked door is present on Level 2, central to the wall,
which may have been another connection with Building 13.

What was once the courtyard area (Room 015) has been bridged to connect
to Building 4. Level 0 & 1 were still open forming part of the Gilded Balloon
Stage Area, with the performance area below and a balcony bar on Level 1.
Levels 2-3 were breezeblock and brick construction and looked out to the
west onto a light well. (See Elevation 7) – only Level 2 contains 2 windows [214
& 213]. The support for this structure was of steel girder, and may be a
continuation of the 1920’s alterations.

Building 4 was sadly part of the catastrophic early collapse of the Cowgate
frontage it was only during demolition work that fragments of the elevation
were recovered at a lower level. However it is clear that this building was of a
similar nature to Building 12, as it shared the same courtyard to the south and
was part of the Thomas Hamilton building. With large rooms and high ceilings.
It seems that there were fireplaces and cupboards on every floor, with later
openings being cut through to building 5 as the change of use in the 20th
century required transverse movement. It is likely that the large opening on
Level 3 removed a fireplace, altering the dynamics of the original flue system.
The main fabric is of one build and consists of rubblework with dressed
sandstone copes and quoins. The roofline is as constructed, with a large
chimneystack that would service the large number of flues in both Buildings 4
& 5 on this elevation.

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 37


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

South North

Level 3

Level 2

Level 1

Level 0

Building 11 Building 12 Building 04


Elevation 4
0 5
metres

Elevation Location

Figure 33 : West internal elevations of Buildings 11,12 and 04

South North

Earlier roofline Later roofline

Level 4
Room 11/141

289
346 Room 278 264
Room 04/103 Level 3
Room 12/107 464
465 Room 04/180
347 503 12/0107 462
466 463 524
477
348 474 473 213 523
Room 04/093 Level 2
478
Room 214
Room 11/083 476 12/089
250 475 472 Room 04/178
Room 04/177
Room 485 Room 12/058 482
Room 04/048 Level 1
102
11/066 133 483
Room 11/065 484 Room 12/057
173
172
Room
Room Room Room 12/015 Room 04/005 04/006 Level 0
67 47
12/018 504 12/017

Building 11 Building 12 Building 04

0 5
metres

It is clear that Buildings 4, 5, 12 and elements of Building 13 are all part of the
Thomas Hamilton design, with later alterations in the 1860s, 1920s and late 20th
century.

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 38


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

6.5 Elevation 5 –East Facing Elevation through Buildings 13 & 5 (Figure34)

This stepped elevation starts in the south with Building 13, the extreme south
elevation is stepped back to the east and contains part of the oldest
standing fabric. As with most of the early properties, this stands 3 stories plus
attic space. The lowest Level, Level 0, has been remodelled (pre 1750s) by
terracing into the slope (Room 014), the rough rubblework of the wall acting
as a revetting wall. The rest of the smaller elevation is of rubblework; the
upper section of the wall has been built up to hide the roofline. The lower
floor of Building 13 is at a basement level, with the ground to the west (Hasties
Close) rising steadily to the south.

The Level 0 along the length forms the east side of Hasties Close, and was
penetrated with 3 doors, now blocked and with a large arched opening [072]
to the north, which had been added in the 20th century to provide access to
the rear of the arcaded Cowgate elevation when it was returned to use as a
footpath in the 1980s; it must be remembered that the 1823 tenements of
Thomas Hamilton extended the frontage out into the Cowgate. The fabric of
this wall does contain elements of an earlier structure as can be seen in the
lowest courses of masonry seen from Hasties Close, but this has been much
reduced prior to construction of the 19th century Building 5.

Building 5 itself is constructed of random rubblework with originally 3 floors


(including the ground floor used for commercial properties). The building has
been extended in the late 19th century by alteration of the roof line to
accommodate an attic level (Level 3). The standard tenement layout is
clear, with fireplaces and inset cupboards.

Reuse of the space in the 20th century has led to the blocking of the fireplaces
and the modifications to room access.

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 39


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

6.6 Elevation 6 –North Facing Elevation (Figure 35)

Building 12 was constructed of rubble work fabric, with rough dressed quoins
surrounding doors and windows. The main fabric of Buildings 12 can be
securely dated to 1823/4. Level 0 has 4 surviving doors [052, 054, 055 & 056]
which would lead into the ground level of the property. Door [052] clearly
leads to a stairwell that would provide access to upper stories, as would
another door that should have been located where the bar opening [058]
had been inserted. The windows on Level 1 still retain the cast iron balconies
that refer to original construction of these properties around a central
courtyard. The elevation to the west shows the structure has utilised existing
fabric within building 13, as there is a clear break in build at Levels 2 and 3. It
is possible that the upper stories of this Building have been bonded to the east
elevation of Building 13 though it is unclear as to the exact reasoning behind
this constructional detail.

Building 13’s north elevation is exposed to reveal the raising of floor levels, with
an additional attic space. Level 2 is brick built against the east side, though
the west elevation is of rubblework. The structure over Hasties Close is clearly
later, and joins Building 6 to Building 5, with connecting rooms.

Building 6, although only recorded at Level 1/2 does show an interesting


constructional detail. Central to the elevation is a line of quoins which clearly
denote an extant building which has been widened to the west in the 19th
century. The position of blocked fireplaces and cupboards in the present
Room 054 shows the floor levels have been raised by c. 400mm during the 20th
century remodelling. The earlier build must date to a period prior to the
erection of Free Church (Building 7) in 1859 and was widened in the early 19th
century and heightened by 2 additional glazed brick stories in the late 19th
centuries.

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 41


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

Elevation 6

East West

Elevation Location
Level 3
Edge of recorded area

Level 2
Edge of recorded area

Level 1

Level 0

Building 12 Building 13 Hasties Building 06


Close
0 5
metres

Figure 35 : South external elevation of Buildings 12 courtyard

East West

Rebuild joint

285 286 Room 13/111 507


Level 3
Room 04/180 Edge of recorded area

Room 13/098 508


Level 2
Room 04/178 210 209 Post medieval quoins
Edge of recorded area
509 512
Roof line

Room 13/058 115


Room 06/054 Level 1
131 121 114
128 127
123 Room 13/055
510
129 122 511

Hasties
Room 12/012 Room 13/013 Close Room 06/030 Level 0
058 057 Room 12/015 055 054 052
056

Building 12 Building 13 Hasties Building 06


Close

0 5
metres

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 42


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

6.7 Elevation 7 – East Facing Elevation of ‘courtyard’; Building 12 (Figure 36)

Elevation - levels 0 – 3. The main fabric of the elevation consists of masonry


[492] for levels 0 & 1 with a further level of brick [490] and an slate roofed [488]
attic space with 3 dormers [287, 486 & 487. A door [071] penetrates the
Level 0 wall, which would have originally connected through to Room 055
though this is now blocked [051]. This door would have been blocked at a
point in the late 20th century when the stage [494] was inserted, removing the
lower 0.70m of the door. The original floor level [495] would have been of
flagstone, as it was originally an external surface. Directly above this door lies
another aperture, which, although 2.00 meters in height, would likely be a
window with balcony as with similar windows seen in Elevation 4. Built directly
onto the wall head (perhaps reduced) of [492] is a brick wall [490], which is
confirmed as being constructed of bricks typical to the early 20th century. The
two windows [205] & [206] are contiguous with this construction. A drainpipe
runs down the north corner of this elevation, taking water run off from the roof
and sub roof level. The sub roof on level 2 [491] runs from this elevation to
meet Elevation 2 to the west. Constructed of wood and glass, it would have
allowed light into the area beneath, it seems that at some point after the
construction of the brick level 2 this skylight was formed, during a period when
the previously open courtyard was covered.

This elevation forms the west side of an internal courtyard between Building 12
to the south and Building 4 to the North. The widow on the first floor would
have originally possessed a balcony similar to those still extant on the south
elevation (Elevation 4). The structure dates mainly to the 1820’s period of
tenement construction, with an early 20th century brick level built directly onto
the wall head of the stonework fabric. It is interesting that the elevation to
either side extends to a height of the full 4 stories while the stonework here
[492] extents only 2 stories. It may be that some reduction has taken place
prior to the brick wall being built. The later 20th century sees the courtyard
covered, and a mezzanine bar over the stage is created, beneath the
rooflight. The remain of the floor can be seen as a scar and two joist holes
[493], this floor was reached by a stair in the north west corner of the
elevation from Level 0 to Level 1. More evidence for the later theatre can be
seen in the painted backdrop and raised stage level [494], which has now
been removed.

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 43


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

South North

Level 3 Elevation Location

Elevation 07
Level 2 South North
Window 486 Window 487

Window
287
287
Slate roof
488 Level 3

Level 1

Window Window
205 206

Brick 490 Level 2

Level 0
Rooflight 491
Drainpipe 489
Window 111

Blocking 112 Level 1


Stone 492

Building 12
0 2
metres Floor scar 493

Door 71

Level 0
Blocking 51

Stage level Stage 494

Floor 495

Building 12
0 2
metres

Figure 36 : West elevation of Building 12 courtyard

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 44


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

6.8 Elevation 8 – South Facing – Building 12, 13 (and south wall of Building 5)
(Figure 37)

The south facing elevation of the courtyard within Building 12 is of one main
build. The structures 4, 5 and 12 are all attributable to the 1823 phase of
construction. Building 3 (the 1790s South Bridge Structure is situated to the
east and the line of Hasties Close bounds the west side.

Within the courtyard there is a line of windows for Buildings 4 & 5, though the
windows [049, 048, 110, 109, 059, 060, 061 and 062] had been blocked during
the late 20th century. The stage for the Gilded Balloon to the west of the
courtyard and a stair to the mezzanine Bar also cuts across the windows 108 &
048].

Commercial Court [Opening to Room 003] cuts to the north joining the
Cowgate at Level 0, with Building 4 Levels 1,2 & 3 above. Most of Building 4
has been extensively redeveloped in the 20th century, both during the 1929
phase of J & R Allan refitting and in the later 20th century during use as space
for artistic venues. The main construction material is brick and steel girder. A
rubble work chimney stack survived from the original phase of construction.

To the west, the exterior of Building 5 remained fairly intact as per the original
1823 construction, though the western windows have been obscured by the
raising of the Building 13 to the south, at Levels 2 & 3.

This elevation relates to the external south wall of the early 19th century
construction of tenements within the Cowgate, around a courtyard (Building
12). It is clear though from lower wall materials and fabric make up, that the
structures that occupied this area were of similar size and layout.

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 45


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

West East

Level 3

Level 2

Level 1

Level 0

Building 13 Building 12
0 5
metres

Elevation 8
Elevation Location

Figure 37 : North external elevation of Building 12 courtyard

West East

brick partition

275 276 277


Room 04/180 Room 04/105
279 open area 280
Level 3
Room 13/111
Open area

207 208 204 203 breeze block partition


Roof line
Room 04/178 Room 04/092 Level 2
Room 13/098 525
215 open area
iron girder

513 110 109 106 105


107 Room 12/058 Level 1
Room 13/055 108

iron girder

Room 12/015

Room 13/013 Room 12/012 Open to room 04/003 Level 0


070 069
059 060 061 062

049 048

Building 13 Building 12
0 5
metres

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 46


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

6.9 Elevation 9 External West Facing - Buildings 1,2 & 3 (Figure 38)

This elevation shows the west exterior of the South Bridge Buildings (Buildings
1,2 & 3. The northernmost (Building 3) once again shows the alteration in the
Robert Kay Gable, where the original roofline was raised (Level 6). The main
elements visible within this Building belong to 3 distinct phases:
The rough rubblework of the original South Bridge Structure (an elevation
that would not be seen from the Bridge itself) dating to the 1790s.
The 1823 Thomas Hamilton Tenement gable and chimney flue. (It is
probable that the raising of the roof was concurrent with this phase, as the
window [441] quite clearly respects the chimney but not the window [356]
within the original build, which was partially obscured by the flues).
The 1929 redevelopment of the J & R Allan store, the large opening on Level
2 [217] representing one of the many large apertures created through the
original fabric for movement around the store.

Building 2 had the entire rear elevation rebuilt in brick during the 1929 phase
of redevelopment the large arched windows282, 354 &400] were to allow
light onto a large stairwell. The blocking is mid 20th century and also
constructed of brick, it represents the utilisation of part of the stairwell as a lift
shaft, with the wheel house at Level 7 and the shaft running down the centre
of Building 2. This required the blocking of windows [454, 458, 451]. The
remainder of the elevation of Building 2 was also of brick with multiple
windows to bring light into the J & R Allan Store.

Building 1 elevation contained elements of both the original South Bridge


fabric, seen as the rough rectangular random coursed sandstone and the
brickwork related to the 1929 phase of J & R Allan. The blocked windows
[432, 394,448 & 335] relate to a stairwell, with exit on Level 8 at roof level. A
steel gantry was provided as a fire escape. The large openings, [22,136, 294,
334, 390] would originally have been windows in 1790, but were enlarged as
doors in the 19th century to provide access into Building 11.

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 47


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

North Elevation 9 South

Level 8 Level 8 ?

Elevation Location
Level 7

Level 6

Level 5

Level 4

Level 3

Level 2

Level 1

Level 0

Building 4 Building 12 Building 11


0 5
metres

Figure 38 : East exterior of buildings 1,2 and 3

North South

450

Level 8 Level 8
?
447

448 449
Level 7

431

Level 6 441 440


429 428
437 436 435 434 432
439
438 393

Level 5 356 357


391 390
399 398 397 396
401 394
400
Level 4 457
335
350 351 352
456 337 334

355
Level 3 354
336

257 306 297 294

298
Level 2 296
217 218 234 248

Level 1
136 155

Level 0
022

Building 4 Building 12 Building 11


0 5
metres

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 48


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

6.10 Elevation 10 – West facing – Buildings 1,2 & 3 (Figure 39)

A substantial elevation still remaining intact to South Bridge Street Level. The
Allan Link Bridge spans the Cowgate to the north, and dates to the 1929
phase of alterations, the fabric of the bridge is however a clever façade
where the actual construction is of box girders faced with a stone cladding.
This bridge however does alter significantly the original lines of the South
Bridge, the false arch being lower and obscuring the original soaring arch
behind.

The fabric of the elevation to the south of the bridge is of rubble build and
can be confidently dated to a period c. 1789 – 90 as the print showing the
laying of the foundation stone for the New College (1789) (Figure 42) does not
show this section of the South Bridge Scheme. This elevation also shows the
first terrace step showing the significant level changes required to build
upslope to the south, with a c2.8m height difference between north and
south.

Building 3 - Level 0 in Rooms 001 & 176, Building 2 Rooms 021 & 022 and
Building 1 - Level 1 Room 064 all contain doorways [6, 7, 8, 15, 20, 153] that
lead beneath the South Bridge, it is however noticeable that the Bridge
structure begins c. 1m behind the wall and there is a significant gap between
the two, this reinforces the method of construction of the South Bridge
Scheme, where the Bridge and Buildings are built separately and are not truly
integrated into each other.

There are several fragments of earlier 16th/17th century architectural stonework


built into the main fabric (see Appendix 1.7)(Figure 42), which represents the
surviving remnants of the buildings that occupied the site prior to 1780.
Building 2 contains the largest concentration of this reused stonework, and
demonstrates the modular aspect of this extraordinary construction.
Examination of the ground plan and elevation quite clearly shows the entire
construction is based on stacking 2 cubes along the length of the Bridge,
Buildings 1 – 3 are but 3 separate elements in the whole Scheme.

Rooms 021, 061, 087, 028, contain fireplaces, showing these spaces were not
just used as storage, a surviving coal chute [222] in Building 3 Room 090 is
original and infers that Level 2 would contain the coal supply for the building
as a whole. It is possible that feature [230] in Building 2 Room 087 is another
blocked example, with another on Level 2 in Building 1.

Other openings within this elevation are mainly cupboard spaces.

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 49


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

Elevation 10
South

Level 8

North
Level 7

Elevation Location
Level 6

Level 5

Level 4

Level 3
South Bridge
ground level
Level 2

Level 1

Level 0

Cowgate Building 3 Building 2 Building 1 Building 10


0 5
metres

Figure 39 : East section of site along south bridge frontage

North South

Room 1/170 Level 8

442
Room 1/169 Level 7
Room 1/158
Room 3/155
403 404 405 406 407 408 409 410 411 412 413 414 Level 6

Room 3/144 Room 1/147


365 366 367 368 369 370 371 372 373 374 375 376 Level 5

Room 3/128
318 319 320 321 322 323 324 Room 1/126 326 Level 4
325

486 Room 3/101 488 489 490 Room 2/012 Room 1/124 495
487
492
493 494
Level 3
491 South Bridge
Room 3/033 ground level
225 228 231
222 224
174
498
499
500
175 221 Room 3/090 226 227 Room 2/087 Room 1/086 Level 2
223 230 229

Room Room
Room 3/028 Room 3/029 2/061 Room 1/064
139 140 141 142
148
147
2/060 Level 1
138 149 150
Alan Link Bridge

Room 3/001 Room 3/176 Room 153


2/021 Room 2/022
006 007 008 015
Level 0
020
014
Room 2/020 Room 2/062

Cowgate Building 3 Building 2 Building 1 Building 10


0 5
metres

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 50


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

6.11 Elevation 11 – North Facing – Building 1 & 11 (Figure 40)

Figure 40 represents a composite elevation of the internal elevation of


Building 1 (south wall) the external elevation of building 11 (north wall) and
the lower part of building 12.

The structures from this point to the south represent the 1st major terrace level
on this site pre 1750. This line is significant in that it represents the historic
interface between structures & garden. The garden areas were gradually
developed during the 18th century, the last significant untouched area
becoming part of Adam Square.

The main elements of Building 1 are constructed during the period 1790-92
during the final phase of South Bridge development, however the main visible
structural elements date from the J & R Allan Store in the 1920s.

The floors from Level 1 – Level 8 are supported from the internal steel girder
frame. The partitions that were visible were constructed mainly of either brick
or breezeblock, representing work carried out in the late 20th century. A
significant part of the 1790s structure survives on Levels 2 & 3 with rubble built
wall fabric and doors that may originally have been recessed cupboards
[232].

Continuing to the west is the elevation of Building 11 that faces over the small
passage leading from Commercial Close to Hasties Close. Built in the late 19th
century the elevation has been remodelled during the Motram 1929 phase of
works. The elevation stands 4 stories high, beginning at Level 1, the earliest
section is at the lower right where there a section of wall fabric seems to
contain masonry that bears tooling marks of possible late 18th century date.
The rest of the elevation is constructed of sandstone rubblework with
sandstone quoins. The ground floor has 3 doors and two windows to the
interior.

Originally there would have been 5 windows on Levels 2 and 3, however the
1929 renovation removed 4 windows to the west, with the insertion of open
voids with steel girder surrounds [12/105 & 12/089]. This space runs through
the site south to north, interconnecting buildings 10, 11, 12 and 4/5.

Running down the centre of the elevation runs a fire escape, which extends
to a door on the 4th Level that has been inserted into the main wall fabric.

It is possible that the upper level is of a later date (possible mid 19th century in
date) constructed to raise the north elevation. It is significant that the
Photographer Archibald Burns notes this structure as being part of the United
Secessionist church of the 1820’s (though his photographs date to the later
half of the 19th century).

Included on this elevation is the lower level 0 of the terrace cut. This forms a
basement level for building 12. with windows to the vennel and coal chutes.

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 51


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

Elevation 11
East West

Level 6

Elevation Location
Level 5

Level 4

Level 3

232
Level 2

Level 1

Level 0

Building 2 Building 12 Building 13


0 5
metres

Figure 40 : South internal elevation of Buildings 2,12 and 13

East West

Room 3/155 Room 3/157 Level 6

Room 3/144 Room 3/149 Level 5


Exterior of Building 11

Room 3/128 Room 3/129


338 339
Level 4
516 288
517
293 292 291
Room 2/102 Room 12/107 Level 3
South Bridge Room 13/111

Room 2/087
Room 12/089 Room 13/098 Level 2
Room 2/088
232
212

Room 118

Room 2/060 Room 2/059 Room 12/057 134 13/057


120
Level 1
Room Room
13/056 13/031

Room 2/022 Room 2/019 Room 12/182 076 075


Room 13/014 Room 13/010 Level 0
Room 12/018
Demolition rubble ramp
065 074 Brick skin
063 064

Building 2 Building 12 Building 13


0 5
metres

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 52


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

Figure 41: View of Building 13 illustrating the complex phases


of alteration

Figure 42: Roll moulding of c. 16th C date inserted into


1790's construction

Addyman Associates Ltd for CECAS 53


South Bridge / Cowgate Fire : Edinburgh

6.12 Elevation 12 – North Facing – Building 4 & 5 (Figure 43)

Central to Building 5 is a stairwell that although constructed during the 1823,


Thomas Hamilton period, bears a marked resemblance to previous post
medieval building lines in that area. It is apparent that although the structure
is of early 19th century date, the possibility exists that much of the fabric has
elements that are earlier. The arched opening [046] could well represent a
public passage through to an open court (now building 12).

The walls are of rubble build with doors and cupboards on each level. This
would represent an internal wall, as no windows are discernable. The Level 1
openings are over built with relieving arches similar to those seen in the rest of
the 1823 tenement elevations (see elevation 8).

The elevation within Building 4 to the east also contains the same elements
seen in the Building 5 elevation, and dates to the same period of
construction.

6.13 Elevation 13 – East Facing – Building 6 (Figure 44)

This elevation, as with Elevation 6 (Figure 17) was only recordable at Level 1
with another fragment to the south at Level 2. As with Elevation 6, the
noticeable features were the doors, windows and fireplaces, which no longer
respect the present floor level. An earlier floor line was clearly visible with
blocked doors [194] & [196] which must have led into a structure that
predated the Church (Building 7) to the west.

It became clear that the blocked window [195] was integral to a turnpike
stair, flanked on either side by the doors [194] & [196]. A series of quoins that
run down the extreme south of the elevation shows once again that this
structure has a significant survival of earlier fabric within what was presumed
to be a 19th century building. The main fabric was of rubble build, though
levels 3 and 4 were of glazed brick, when the building was extended in the
mid 19th century.

It is quite possible that the early building was of post medieval date, and had
survived partially within the Improvements phase of the 150s/60s. This would
indicate that early fabric still survives at Level 0 within the Wilkie House bar
area.

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Elevation 12
East West

Elevation Location

Level 3

Level 2

Level 1

Level 0

Building 4 Building 5
0 5
metres

Figure 43 : South section through middle of Buildings 4 and 5

East West

Room 4/103 Room 5/108 Level 3

202 201 200


Room 4/093
Room 5/094 Level 2

100 099 514


104 103
101 515
Level 1
Room 4/048 Room 5/050

Room 046 044


Level 0
040
4/003 Room 4/005 Room 5/007

Room 5/008 Room 5/009

Building 4 Building 5
0 5
metres

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Elevation 13
South North

Elevation Location

Level 2

Level 1

0 5
metres
Level 0

Building 6

South Flat roof


North

Room 6/143 Room 6/142 Level 4


Stairwell

Room 6/110 Room 6/109


Level 3
Post Med early quoins

Room 6/100
522
Room 6/099
195 Blocked window 193
Level 2
197 196 194
blocking

Earlier floor line

Room 6/054
521 Blocking Room 6/053 518
094
Level 1
095 519
Early fabric

Plaster for later 520 Post Med turnpike


stairwell
Room 6/030 0 5
Level 0
metres
Faith Nightclub

Building 6

Figure 44 : West internal elevation of Building 6

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7. Excavations

7.1 Introduction

During the process of creating foundations for a bridge support structure


there was a requirement to monitor the excavation. This was carried out on
the 6th of March 2003 under the supervision of K. Macfadyen. The
groundwork’s consisted of a trench approx 4 metres long (North-South), 1.5
metres wide and 0.80- 0.9 m deep, within room 3/001. The trench was dug to
allow a substantial concrete and scaffold support to be built to support the
Allen link bridge across the Cowgate.

7.2 Investigation

The trench was located within room 3/001 on level 0, formerly part of the
Living Room pub, with the foundation footprint of the support determining the
trench outline and depth.

Following the fire and demolition the ground level deposits were a thin skim of
muddy debris overlying a concrete floor spread. This concrete was broken
through and lifted by a JCB fitted with a 1.2m-toothed bucket, the deposits
within the trench were initially cleared with shovels and occasionally with the
JCB bucket where it was deemed appropriate, and then cleaned by hand
for recording by photograph and a drawn record at a scale of 1:20. This
trench also allowed an evaluation of the below ground archaeology, which
will be a factor in any reconstruction on the site.

Trench 1
Figure 6 for location

Across the whole trench lay a 5cm thick concrete floor, which directly overlay
demolition/construction deposit (001). This (001) deposit was a mix of cream
coloured gritty crushed lime mortar mixed through with fragments of
sandstone rubble, some of which were chips from worked/tooled stones, also
mixed through were a few broken low fired red bricks. Recovered from (001)
was a small amount of glass, pottery of 18th/19th century date and bone/shell
as well as 2 coins (Both Turners of Charles I / II {small find 001}), this continued
over the whole trench in the northern half to a depth of 0.5m and within the
southern half to a depth of 0.8-0.9m.

The trench was bisected by a wall (002) running east west through the centre
of the trench, this was 35 cm wide at the exposed top and appears to be a
continuation of a wall stub within room 3/001 running east west from the south
bridge. The above ground parts of this wall may have been demolished after
the fire or it may have been demolished earlier to form a larger open area
within the pub. Whenever it was demolished it survives to just below the
ground floor surface. This walling steps out 10 cm to the north (003) from 50-
cm below current ground surface. While on its south face the elevation of the
walling is vertical although the lower section corresponding to the step out to
the north on the other face was unpointed as if it had been built up against

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something. The rest of the walling exposed was pointed flush with a hard
cream/ white lime mortar.

Within the north half of the trench at a level with the top of (003) the make up
changes to a more dirty rubble/mortar deposit 012 with some charcoal mixed
through this continues down for 40 cm on to a “floor” 004 consisting of a
horizontal dark clay surface, the interface between (012) and (004) is very
clear. While removing the last of (012) spoil from within the trench the JCB
clipped this surface and revealed the underlying makeup of it (005), a mix of
lumps of yellow brown sticky clay mixed with dark brown clay and occasional
flecks of charcoal, the surface 004 does not appear to be cut by the wall
(002). To the extreme north of the trench a deposit of charcoal (006) was part
exposed by the JCB which form part of surface (004) within the north of the
trench. This was excavated through quickly with a shovel, and it proved to be
a deposit of 5-10cm thickness of compressed layers of charcoal and ash
(sample kept No. 002) below this was a compacted deposit of reddish burnt
looking stony clay (018) which was not excavated.

Within the south half of the trench layer (001) extends for the whole depth of
the trench (90 cm) with some charcoal deposits (007) exposed at the foot of
the wall (002). An outcrop of undisturbed banded natural clay and bedrock
(011) was exposed at the extreme south of the trench. The only feature of
archaeological interest noted within this half of the trench is a lump of
masonry (009) of unknown purpose. This is composed of unworked red
sandstone blocks bonded with a fairly loose cream lime mortar (sample kept
No.001). A lump of soil (008) to the masonry’s immediate north may relate to
this feature.

Cut into (001) were a number of modern service pipes, many obviously
serving beer taps within the bars

7.3 Summary

Within this evaluation trench it was hoped to get an idea of the survival and
depth of any archaeological deposits within the Cowgate site, which will be
an issue for the reconstruction of the site. In this trench at the northeast corner
of the site the deposits primarily appear to be related almost entirely to the
construction of the south bridge at least for a depth of 0.8m, with modern
services shallowly inserted into these deposits. To the extreme south at about
0.8m down was an outcrop of undisturbed natural 011. The only feature
thought to pre date the building of the south bridge was a lump of masonry
009 exposed in the base of the trench but not excavated, which was about
0.8-0.9m down.

The depth of the foundations determined the depth of this evaluation and
within the excavated trench the pre south bridge archaeology is apparent
from the surface, with earlier layers well preserved.

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Part 3 – The Historical Record

8 Introduction

Beyond the stone and mortar, the bricks and slate that formed the shell of the
structures destroyed and damaged during the Cowgate Fire it is important to
remember the importance of those that actually populated this space.
Three historians were contracted to further research the main periods of
activity on this site. Rob Maxtone-Graham deals with the original land-owners
and tenants of the 15th and 16th centuries who looked to the Cowgate as a
fashionable suburb of overcrowded Edinburgh. William Kay then analyses the
influence of the Adams brothers on the townscape, with their concept of the
South Bridge scheme and impact on both the developing New Town and the
ghettoisation of the, by now, slum inhabitants of the Cowgate. Morag Cross
finishes with the 19th and early 20th centuries with the Edinburgh City Council
sweeping away the medieval slums with improvements in buildings and
sewage, as can be seen in the Thomas Hamilton tenements that stood until
today, this period also witnessed the transformation of the South Bridge with
the construction of a vast department store with the changes in the structures
that that entailed.

Only by understanding the people who shaped this site, is it possible to make
sense of the surviving remains, and give clues to the possibilities that still lie
beneath the ground. This sad event is but another chapter in the history of
the Cowgate, a history that spans at least 600 years of occupancy and use.

8.1 Origins (15th – 16th centuries)

(from -- Development of mediaeval land-holdings in Edinburgh’s Cowgate by Rob Maxtone


Graham, extracted by the author)

8.11 Introduction

A study was undertaken to identify the owners of the tenements


affected by the fire at the earliest period from which reliable records survive,
and to gain information on the layouts and divisions within each tenement,
and within the block as a whole. The Protocol books of John Foular, covering
the period 1500-1534, provided the vast majority of over 300 Sasine references
which were used to map the whole of the south side of the Cowgate, from
the Pleasance to Candlemaker Row, before concentrating on the block
between Robertson’s Close and College Wynd.

The research threw up far more than the initial remit, and has provided
invaluable information on the life and times:- genealogy, legal processes,
social history, biographies of many key players, the wealth of the area,
financial dealings, mortgages, marriages, Reformation martyrs, philandering
clerics and much more.

The history of the area in the pre-reformation period was inextricably


linked to the Church, and especially with the Kirk of Field, whilst the southern

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end of the later ‘Mr Adam’s new building’ possibly stood on the site of
Darnley’s murder in 1567.

8.12 Methodology
(Figures 45 & 46)
Sasine extracts printed in Protocol books generally take the form :-
‘A’ inherits (or buys) rights to a tenement, or a land within one, from ‘B’. The
land transferred is usually geographically defined as having the Cowgate (in
this case) to the north, ‘C’ to the west, ‘D’ to the south and ‘E’ to the east,
producing a piece of a jigsaw-puzzle. Extrapolating the analogy further, the

corner pieces were arranged first, followed by the street frontage, then the
backlands, until all pieces were accounted for and placed. The internal
corners were then identified, enabling contiguous tenements to be mapped
from Robertson’s Close to College Wynd, then working towards the centre.
The southern boundary of most tenements was the vennel or passage leading
from the Place of the Friars Preachers to the Kirk of Field, or it’s cemetery. This
ran along much the same lines as Infirmary St and the south side of Chambers
St. Some sixty volumes of other sources were consulted to produce brief
biographies and genealogies of many of the owners.

8.13 Land Development and Layout (Figure 45 & 46)

Tenements 1 & 2.
George Dykson. (1508) The first tenement is bounded by the vennels
leading to the Friars Preachers to the east (Robertson’s Close) and south (Inf
St), Cowgate to north and another of his own lands to the west. The second
land has William Murray to the west. No divisions were noted, other than the
mention of two Dikson lands. Considering its situation on a wynd, it is most
likely that development had already taken place up the whole length of the
street; the lack of divisions appearing in the sasines may well just mean that all
the buildings were still owned by Dikson. This situation may well have
continued in future centuries, as for a long time the close was called
Dickson’s. The second land probably stretched as far as the east side of Sth
Niddry St. The combination was possibly as wide as three lands (c.15m).

Tenement 3.
William Murray of Tulchadam, Master Thomas Dikson. In 1510 Murray
pays off his wadset (mortgage) to Henry Creichton and sells the tenement to
Dikson, brother of George, above. Judging from Thomas’ other dealings, he
doubtless bought the debt to gain the property. (Appendix 1.2).
The tenement is described as “All and haill the land, tenement, forland
and bak land, with the yard, orcheart and pertinentis of the samyn….”, lying
between George Dikson on the east, the Bishop of Dunkeld to west, and the
lands of Bristo (the other side of the vennel) to south, so another full-length
tenement. No divisions were noted, but the above description shows
significant development in the northern half of the tenement, and
arable/amenity ground to the south. It is probable that the stone-lined pit
unearthed in 10 Sth Niddry St in the 1990s was the Cowbill-stane or vat for
steeping malt attached to the properties in this tenement, or possibly Dunkeld

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next door. Tracking the title-deeds forward from this period could probably tell
us about subsequent divisions and development.

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Figure47 : View of Edinburgh by English Spy, Moryson in 1566, showing approximate


location of the site

Future site of
Adam Square

Figure 48 : Edgar's map of 1742, showing the previously undeveloped garden backlands
that were to form Adam Square.

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Tenement 4.
Bishop of Dunkeld. This tenement only receives mentions in charters
involving neighbours to east and west, so very little is known about it. As there
were four, possibly five, Dunkeld Bishops in the period 1500-34 (Appendix 1.2),
the transfers of the land to the next incumbents will doubtless have been
recorded, but no source has been found amongst surviving archives. It
probably lies under South Bridge, but the western part may be within the fire
site.

Tenement 5.
Thomas Cameron, Thomas Johnstoune, Sir John Dikson. In 1498,
Thomas mortifies his tenement to the Chapel of St Catherine’s altar in St Giles,
and dies by 1503. His successor in 1531, another Thomas Cameron, mortifies
the tenement to Sir John Dikson in various stages. In 1520, William Johnstoune
inherits a part of it from his father Thomas, alias ‘Calsamaker’ (pavement or
road maker); Raperlaw’s Wynd is to the west, Cameron’s land to north and
east, and a passage or land to the south. It would not appear to reach as far
south as the vennel. In 1531, the wester half of the tenement is mentioned
separately, together with a yard and garden.
The Bishop of Dunkeld lands to the east, Raperlaw’s land or transe to
west and the way to Kirk of Field to south; in this case this is thought to be the
passage from Raperlaw’s wynd to the Kirk mentioned below and above. The
final transfer to Dykson assigns any remaining fermes and profits to Sir John,
whom failing to William Dykson, whom failing to Master Richard Boithuell,
younger, and gives them powers to ‘ditrenzie’ the tenants, if necessary. (See
biogs) This tenement lies west of South Bridge, and was at least two lands
wide.

Tenement 6.
William Raperlaw and others. His land first mentioned in 1471, Raperlaw
died between 1498 and 1502, but no mention is made of his successor in the
26 references found for the tenement until 1561, when it is held by Sir John
Castellaw. From the number of sasines involving lands within it owned by
other people, it would appear that he had feued most of it before his death.
He had also mortgaged portions of it, and granted ground-annuals to various
folk, including the mortgage lender.

Numerous references also place Raperlaw between Thomas Cameron


and Francis Inchecok on the west, with a transe or wynd running up the
middle to join a passage running eastwards, then turning south to the Kirk of
Field. There are also references to a well within the tenement being used for
brewing purposes as late as the 18th century.

West of the wynd, lands are owned by several folk; Symon Law, William
Batholomew, David Craig, Agnes Walklot, Patrick Howburne and Alan Park.
East of the close, we find Elizabeth Bishop, John Cornewall and Raperlaw’s
own lands.

In 1511, a Raperlaw wadset is redeemed by the transfer of a land to


the western neighbour, Francis Inchecok. This would appear to have lain east

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T=Tenement

T8 T7 T6 T5 T4

Raperlaw /
Commercial Court
Hasties Close

Figure 45 : Based on Rothiemay’s (1647) and Morysons(1598) Maps of Edinburgh :


Detail in red shows location of Tenements referred to in section 8.1

T8 T7
T6 T5 T4

Site

Figure 46 : Rothimay’s map of Edinburgh overlaid with tenement boundaries in red..


of the close, before becoming part of Inchecok’s tenement. This land may

well be the odd protrusion skirted on the east by a close, shown in both Edgar
and Ainslie (close 26), although Ainslie quotes close 25 as Raperlaw’s. This is

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doubtful, as Raperlaw’s wynd is known to have reached the Kirk of Field and
close 25 is a dead-end.
This tenement would appear to be three lands wide at the street
frontage, but retains little land to the south, apart from the wynd, which lies at
the heart of the fire-site.

Tenement 7.
Francis Inchecok. Described in 1505 as ‘two adjacent tenements’,
extending as far as the cemetery of the Kirk of Field to the south, Raperlaw to
east, and several neighbours to the west. Francis would appear to have kept
most of the built lands himself, as no divisions are noted, whilst there are
references to ‘forelands and yard’ owned by him until 1530-32 when he
wadsets it to William Liberton. The southern lands in the garden area would
appear to have been individually sold off well before 1520, when Sir John
Dingwall buys up these parcels and consolidates them to form a garden.
(Appendix 1.2) These include contiguous lands, owned by Margaret Dewar to
the north and Elizabeth Nymmyll to the south, surrounded by Inchecok lands
to north, south and west, which may have been within the developed site,
but they cannot be placed accurately. These tenements lie in the western
end of the fire-site and, in addition to the land gained from Raperlaw’s
tenement in 1511, would appear to have gained garden ground from it
previously.

Tenements 8, 9, 10.
Various Owners. These heavily developed tenements are those just
west of the demolished section of the fire site, but were obviously seriously
affected by the fire; they lie between College Wynd and Hastie’s Close. The
Sasine information supports later cartographic evidence showing closes
entering this area from the north and west, so the block has been analysed as
a whole. It is approximately three lands wide, and may well have been
previously owned by the Liberton family, as they hold ground-annuals for
many lands within the block.

Richard Scot, alias ‘Stabillar’, owned the N-W corner site in 1509,
bordered by Patrick Richartson to the east (who sells to James Johnstone in
1512) and David Vocat and the Grammar School to the south. John Cowart
owns a land within Scot’s tenement in 1522, as did the Abbot of Jedburgh
and William Stallis. James Robison, Adam Lutfute and Agnes Walklot would
appear to hold lands within Richardson’s tenement, which is described as
holding lands ‘built and waste’ in 1509.

Next to the south was the Grammar School and its house & grounds,
the fore-runner of the High School built in 1587 in High School Wynd. The
headmaster in 1509 was Master David Vocat, and in January 1511-12, five
bursaries were awarded by the treasury, enabling Walter Stewart, Sandy
Kennedy, baillie Vere’s son, Simon Graham and Lord Lyle to attend the
school at a cost of £5 10s each for half-a-year’s board and fees, plus
significant sums for their clothing. The building had become unusable by 1555,
and the school was housed in Cardinal Beaton’s house from 1553-1570.

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Thomas Welche is south of the school, possibly with further Richardson


land to the east. Simon Gorgy owns a land in the S-W corner of this tenement.

South of Welche lay John Bullok, whose tenement lay in the backlands,
as the Hamilton tenement (below) extended on the street (College Wynd)
frontage as far as Gorgy. A member of the Quhite (White) family may have
had land in the tenement.

Sir Patrick Hamilton of Kincavill owned the next extensive tenement, it


having belonged previously to Sir William Lamb. Containing cellars and
outside stairs, it had a back-yard with a dyke separating it from Inchecok’s
lands to the east.

The Vache (Veitch) family held the next tenement, which had a ‘T’
shape with a small frontage to College Wynd, but extensive backlands, each
‘evin als braid’, one quoted as containing a ‘forhous and bak hous’. Andrew
Auld owns the lands in the N-W corner, and John Dee those in the S-W corner,
which possibly contained his ‘tavern’, in which some charters are signed.

This Dee tenement was divided into north and south parcels by 1516,
the southern one being 8 ells long and 6 ells broad, with a back yard to the
east.

Finishing off the block, we find the S-W corner site changing hands
many times, including ownership by the Craft of Tailors, Howisons, Wilson, Raa
(Rae), Sir Alexander Coupar. This land is described as beside the gate to the
Kirk of Field at the head of the wynd. See Appendix 1.2 for information on
occupants. By 1635, all ten tenements have passed out of the ownership of
the families concerned, but the pattern of ownership remains similar, with
tenements in the middle of the block still having single overall owners of some
distinction, and corner/wynd sites with many divisions.

8.14 Adam’s Square (Figures 47 & 48)

Master Matthew Ker, Sir John Dingwall. The roots of what became
‘Adam’s Square’ lie in the early 16th century, when most of the southern parts
of tenements 5 to 10 are bought up and consolidated into a single unit, which
remained largely undeveloped until the arrival of South Bridge and Chambers
St.

Dingwall’s land is described in 1530 as ‘the yard or land of the Virgin


Mary, founded by Master John Dingwall’. Master Matthew Ker began the
process of buying up wastelands for a mansion, buildings and garden for the
Provost and Chaplains of the Kirk of Field, of which he was Provost, in 1511
(which may well have been the site for the prebendary’s house blown up in
the 1567 Darnley murder). He purchases lands just east of the point where the
present Infirmary St dog-legged north at the corner of the old college.
Rothiemay, Edgar and Ainslie all show buldings in this corner. These lands had
Raperlaw, Master Thomas Dykson and Sir George Walklot to the north, as well
as an E-W passage leading to Raperlaw’s Wynd. One land has the Bishop of
Dunkeld to the east, the other Archibald Kincaid.

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In 1518, he buys the remainder of the Vache tenement above,


mortifying it to the Kirk once more, via chaplain Sir Robert Lille. By 1525, Master
Richard Bothwell is Provost.

In 1520, Dingwall further increases the Kirk’s holding, by buying the


Nymmyll and Dewar lands mentioned in Inchecok’s tenements, then sells
them on to another chaplain, Sir Alexander Coupar, but retains the life-rent.
He obtains the rest of the Inchecok backlands later the same year, and again
passes them to Couper, who by this time had also obtained the Howison
corner site from the Craft of Tailors. This may well be the site of the Provost’s
mansion mentioned above, but built further west than originally planned. The
archived drawing of Darnley’s murder scene clearly shows the Provost’s
house beside the gate to the kirk, with the remains of the Prebendary’s house
to its east and several more buildings to the north, going downhill. The
drawing also shows the ‘theives raw’ dog-legging to the north at this point,
enabling the possible pinpointing of the Prebendary’s house as on much the
same site as the later Adam building, and the Provost’s house on the corner
of College Wynd. The priests’ chambers shown on the drawing to the north of
the murder scene could well have been the Nymmyll/Dewar lands in
Inchecok's tenement.

The holding now stretched from College Wynd to the back of


Robertson’s Close, showing that the square was a relatively undeveloped
single unit long before the Adams came along. Dingwall’s extensive
philandering, occupations, scandals, benefices and wheeling-dealing will be
dealt with under biographies. An extraordinary character amongst many
other well documented inhabitants. This entire Kirk holding was presumably
transferred to the University when it was founded in 1583, the Kirk lands having
been bought by the council from Penicuik of that ilk in 1563.

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8.2 The Adam’s Influence

A Documentary Account of the South Cowgate Property of William and John Adam.
By William R. M. Kay

8.21 Introduction
(Figure 49)
Although William Adam, architect (1689-1748) had commercial property
interests in Edinburgh from at least 1715, for some years afterwards his familial
and professional centre was based in Fife in his native Linktown of Abbotshall,
adjoining the south bounds of Kirkcaldy.

Having been ‘bred a Mason’, it was this designation that was usually applied
to his professional standing for some years after he first appears in the records
in 1710. As early as 1719 however, Adam is first distinguished as ‘architect in
Kirkcaldie’. This metamorphosis was not an instantaneous or even straight
chronological progression, and in most early correspondence Adam is
referred to variously as ‘measson in Abbotshall’, or ‘mason in Abbotsgrange’.
In 1723 he is referred to as ‘Architect and mason in Linktown’, and in the same
year, to all intents and purposes (with one or two later notable exceptions),
Adam had dropped any personal association with the builder’s yard, winning
universal recognition as ‘architect’.

By this date Adam was already spending a considerable part of his time in
Edinburgh, as the meteoric rise in his workload and professional status
required attendance on a number of patrons and building operations on the
south side of the Forth. Many of his aristocratic patrons retained town
residences in Edinburgh in addition to their country estates, and it was no
doubt partly as an expedient for attending these patrons efficiently that
Adam required a base in the capital. In 1723 Adam might also have felt the
political imperative for attaining the status of resident following petitioning on
his behalf by patrons to have him appointed architect under the ‘Town’s Bill’
for raising an Ale Tax in Edinburgh for public works.5 Although this bid failed,
Adam’s move to the capital was inevitable.

Before the start of the building season of 1723 much of Adam’s surviving
correspondence addressed to his patron Sir John Cerk of Penicuik, is
composed in the ‘Links of Kirkcaldy’, but from the spring of that year it is clear
that Adam maintained some kind of occasional base in the capital as is
made clear in in a letter of 6 May 1723 in which he mentions a drawing board
‘Left...at My Quarter att Canongate Head, one Deacon Hart a wright’.6

A similar kind of arrangement seems to have existed at the premises of John


Ramsay, merchant in Edinburgh, and brother of Mr Andrew Ramsay of
Abbotshall. In 1725 Adam is still styled ‘Architect at Kirkcaldy”.7 Yet about the
same time, many of Adam’s surviving autograph letters are addressed simply

5NAS GD18/4722: Willaim Adam to Sir John Clerk, Craigiehall, 28 March 1723.
6NAS GD18/4724: William Adam to Sir John Clerk, Floors, 6 May 1723.
7NAS RD2/119/2: Protest Hugh Bennet, mason in Samuelstown agt. William Adam, 2

September 1725. Original bond dated 25 January 1725.

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from ‘Edinburgh’ implying that he had some kind of settled address there

Figure 49 : Adam Square frontage, 1850s, during the occupancy of the Watt Institute& School of Art
(now Heriot Watt University)

Figure 50 : Laying of the foundations for the New College, 1789. Note Adam Square and the
half completed South Bridge Scheme. The building in the foreground contains
traces of the Flodden Wall.

known to his correspondents. Certainly by late 1726 he is formally recorded


as ‘architect in Edinburgh’.8

8NAS RD13/82/309: ‘Contract of Feu ‘twixt Mr Alexr Gibsone of Durie and Wm. Adam
and Jerome Robertson’.

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Thus, (according to his grandson) in 1725 William Adam had aquired ‘a house
situated close to the southern end of the South Bridge on the Westside’. This
intelligence is somewhat intriguing as research in the usual archival sources
has revealed no surviving evidence for the actual purchase of property there
by him there at this date; although it is entirely possible that if the date 1725 is
given credence, that his residence might have been in the form of a lease for
which the absence of a formal record is not unusual. An extraordinary trail of
coincidence and synchronicity now unfolds.

In 1723 a William Adam aquired for £120 Scots per annum, a three year tack
or lease from John Callendar of Craigforth of ‘Ane dwelling house and Celler
thereto belonging Lying on the south side of the street opposite to Nidderys
Wind in Edinr.’9 At this date the property was occupied by one Jean Ogilvy,
merchant, but it actually belonged to Callender’s wife Elizabeth Thomson.
From examination of the original warrant, however, it is clear that the lessee is
not our architect, but the deposed church minister of Humbie, now turned
printer.10

In 1726 William Adam, architect acquired the house and twenty-nine acres
estate of North Merchiston just south of the city, from John Lowis; but there is
no surviving correspondence to or from that place at this period to suggest
that this became Adam’s Edinburgh base. In 1728 Adam became a burgess
of Edinburgh, which implies residency; but it is not until 1729 that firm
documentary evidence specifically places William Adam, architect, as at a
specific address in the city itself. The earliest known specimen of
correspondence addressed to him there is dated 26 June 1729, directed to
his house ‘opposite the foot of Nidderys Wynd’ on the south side of the
Cowgate.11 This tallies nicely with the first legal document concerning Adam’s
ownership of property there.

8.22 John Strachey and William Adam, 1729.

At London, on 8 November 1729, John Strachey Esquire of St Margaret’s


Westminster signed a Disposition of his ‘great Back Tenement’ and pertinents
on the south side of the Cowgate in favour of William Adam [Appendix

9NAS B22/20/83: Original Warrant ‘Tack ,John Callender to Mr William Adam & John
Cunninghame’, 26 March & 4 April 1723. Registered in the Minute Book of the Burgh
Register of Deeds B22/10/9, 7 July 1727.
10 Fasti Ecclesianae Scotiae, I, 376, lists William Adams (1676-1730), Minister of Humbie;

M.A. Edinburgh, 16 Sept 1695; schoolmaster of Prestonpans, ordained 16 April 1701;


demitted 4 Nov 1714 after an acrimonious relationship with church authorities.
Commenced business as printer in Edinburgh. Committed to Tolbooth in 1717 with
Walter Ruddiman for printing a pamphlet entitled Now or Never; liberated after two
days. Died 13 Dec 1730 aged 54. Married 1704 Janet dughter of William Thomson,
writer, Edinburgh.
Adam’s partner in the Cowgate property transaction was John Cunningham, copper
smith, no doubt manufacturer of printing plates. Adam’s son William printed the early
works of the poet Allan Ramsay.
11 NRAS 2177.872, TD 85/139 (Hamilton MSS): Hugh Hamilton to William Adam.

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1.31].12 By the terms of this Disposition Strachey bound himself ‘to relieve and
skaithless keep the said Mr William Adam and his foresaids and the lands and
others above disponed from all Cesses, taxations publick burdens ground
annual and others whatsomever due out of the said Tenement of Land and
others preceeding the term of Whitsunday last past which is hereby declared
to have been their entry thereto’. It would seem quite clear then, that William
Adam gained formal possession of this property on 15 May 1729, one of the
traditional quarter-days in the Scottish fiscal calendar.13

The hypothesis that Adam might previously have been renting rooms at this
address is somewhat compromised by the revelation in Strachey’s disposition
that the property was then occupied by Collonel Alexander McKenzie, Lady
Gleneagles & Christian Wylie.14 From later evidence it is clear that the building
was commodious, so perhaps Adam had some existing arrangement to
occupy Strachey’s own apartment there, as both men were already
acquainted through business, and in recent times the need for Strachey’s
professional presence in Edinburgh appears to have ceased. Before
examining the detail of the Strachey /Adam Disposition, we might pause
briefly to set their relationship in context.

Strachey was a senior office-bearer of the Company of Undertakers for


Raising Thames Water in York Buildings, more commonly known as the York
Buildings Company. Following the 1715 Jacobite Uprising, this London-based
company diversified into speculating in the purchase of fofeited estates in
Scotland from 1719. On 15 August 1722 John Strachey received a
commission as the company’s attorney for the purchase of these estates and
was dispatched to Scotland to negotiate settlements.15 To facilitate his
business, on 21 January 1723 he purchased property on the south side of the
Cowgate from the heirs of John Wright, merchant.16

One of the principal forfeited estates aquired by the company was that
formerly belonging to the Earl of Winton. This included the coal and salt works
of Tranent and Cockenzie which at first the Company attempted to run for

12 NAS B22/20/107/2: (Warrant) Disposition, John Strachey to William Adam, 8

November 1729. Registered Edinburgh, 20 June 1754.


13In the Strachey/Adam Disposition the date of entry is plainly stated; however, from

subsequent documents relating to further property acquisitions in the Cowgate by


Adam in 1738, it is apparent that sale of a property (and therefore ownership) may
be concluded many months in advance of actual formalisation of new ownership
appearing by a Disposition and/or Sasine; thus, some caution must be exercised as to
precising dating of transfer. Such discrepancies are particularly notable in the
property transactions made by John Adam for the site of his new buildings in the early
1760s - see main text pp13-14 , and notes 35 & 36.
14Ibid. It is not known whether these sitting tenants remained for any time after

Adam’s acquisition of the property.


15 NAS RD2/116/2: Commission York Buildings Company to John Strachey, registered 5

September 1722.
16NAS B22/2/22, 6 December 1723: Disposition, The Heirs of Alexander Wright to John

Strachey, 26 January 1723, in which Strachey is referred to as ‘armiger’ ( i.e. one who
is entitled to a coat of arms; an esquire). This Disposition is also cited in NAS
B22/20/107/2: (Warrant) Disposition, John Strachey to William Adam, 8 November
1729. Registered Edinburgh, 20 June 1754.

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itself. From 1716-1719 the saltworks were managed by a William Adam,


previously confused with the architect.17 This saltgrieve was removed from
the estate by the York Buildings Company and appointed by John Strachey
as factor on the forfeited estate of East Reston.18 Coincidently, prior to 1727
Archibald Robertson, brother-in-law of William Adam, the architect, had
been appointed the York Building Company’s manager of the coal and salt
works on the Winton Estate which probably prepared the way for Adam’s
subsequent presence.

In the spring of 1727 William Adam architect, embarked on a trip to London


where he remained until well into the autumn. While there, he entered into
Articles of Agreement with the York Buildings Company on 9 August for a
lease of the entire coal and salt works of Tranent and Cockenzie, to which
formal entry is declared as Michaelmas (11 November) 1727.19 Two years
later, alterations to the terms of the Agreement were drawn up in a Contract
granted by the Company’s Governor, Colonel Samuel Horsey, and dated at
Beltonford 22 December 1729, where it was witnessed by (amongst others),
one Henry Strachey, factor for the York Buildings Company in Scotland, and
certainly a near relation of John Strachey who had disponed his property in
the Cowgate to Adam just over six weeks earlier.

Adam was to have a prominent and lifelong association with the York
Buildings Company, and whether he became acquainted with John Strachey
through the Company or vice versa, both are inextricably linked with Adam’s
entrepreneurial interests as well as his quest for a permanent base in the heart
of Edinburgh.

John Strachey’s Disposition of 1729 in favour of Adam contains a


considerable amount of detail concerning the nature of the property as
purchased by Strachey in 1723 from Alexander and Agnes Wright, son and
relict respectively of the deceased John Wright, merchant. In turn, John
Wright had acquired the subjects by a Disposition of 10 September 1709
granted by the Incorporation of Wrights and Masons of St Mary’s Chapel, who
were proprietors of other adjacent property in the Cowgate.20

The extent of the subjects aquired by Adam in 1729 are summarised as ‘All
and haill that great Back Tenement of land, back and fore under and above,
with the haill vaults, cellars, office houses, garrets, parts, pendicles &
pertinents thereof with the walls and gavells of the same, with the yeards,
stable and well therein lying on the south side of the Cowgate of Edinburgh’.
The boundaries of this site were as follows:

17C A.Whatley ‘A Saltwork and the Community: The case of Winton, 1716-1719’,
Transactions of the East Lothian Antiquarian and Field Studies Society, 18, 1984, pp.
45-59.
18NAS RD 2/117/2: Tack, Strachey & Adam, 22 March 1723.
19NAS RD13/73: Contract betwixt the York Buildings Company and Mr William Adams,

1729. Registered RD3/188, 12 July 1733.


20Cited in NAS B22/20/107/2: (Warrant)Disposition, John Strachey to William Adam, 8

November 1729. Registered Edinburgh, 20 June 1754. The Disposition by the


Incorporation of Mary’s Chapel in favour of John Wright, merchant, was registered in
the Burgh Court Books on21 J anuary 1710.

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On the west by the‘Tenements of land sometime belonging to John Wright


Slaiter Burgess of Edinburgh and now to Alexr Wright his grand & heir,21 and
the closs or Vennall commonly called Raploch’s Closs’; on the south by ‘The
Common wynd or passage leading from the College of Edinburgh to the high
school thereof and Lady Yester’s Church’; on the east by ‘the Tenement of
Land Closs and yeard belonging to the heirs of the deceast Thomas Hamilton
of Olivestob sometime one of the Baillies of Edinburgh’; and on the north by
the ‘Tenement of land & Closs belonging to the said Incorporation [of St
Mary’s Chapel] now or sometime possest by William Harper Vintner Burgess of
Edinburgh & his subtenants & Mrs Johnstone Indweller there’.

The garden itself was bounded by stone dykes on the east south and west,
with an entry on the south side. Additionally, Adam acquired the ‘trees &
bushes growing therein, The Sun=dyall, [and] Rolling or Smoothing Stones built
and lying in the same’.

At the northern end of this plot lay the ‘great Back Tenement’ which became
Adam’s Edinburgh residence. This had no frontage to the Cowgate, but lay to
the rear of buildings owned by the Incorporation of Mary’s Chapel and was
entered ‘from the forestreet of the Cowgate by the Common passage
through the Tenement of Land belonging to the said Incorporation as the said
Closs or passage presently lyes’. This entry into the court of the tenement lay
directly opposite the foot of Marlin’s Wynd which led south down to the
Cowgate from the High Street by a dog-leg behind the Tron Church.
Curiously, although Adam’s address is sometimes given as ‘opposite the foot
of Marlin’s Wynd’,22 much more frequently the location is given as ‘opposite
the foot of Niddry’s Wynd’ or even occasionally opposite ‘Kinloch Close foot’
although the latter two lay somewhat further east than the entrance to
Adam’s property as it stood in 1729. Perhaps the explanation is simply that the
passage from Niddry’s Wynd was the more passable and commonly used.
The Disposition of 1729 reveals that Adam’s house was bounded on the west
by Raploch’s Close and the tenement of Alexander Wright, and was joined
to the rear of the Incorporation’s tenements by mutual gables ‘on both east
and west sides of the Closs’, thus making its footprint definable with some
certainty on Edgar’s map of 1742, with interpolation of further legal
documents relating to Adam’s acquisitions, and Ainslie’s map of c.1781 which
confirms the positions of Raploch’s Close and the entry to Wright’s tenement
through Wrights Close - both closes left unnamed by Edgar.23 The exact line
of the mutual gables is not shown in Edgar, but later surveys relating to the
proposed South Bridge of 1785 indicate that these gables were situated at
the point where the north jambs of the rear buildings decrease in breadth.
[Figure 31];

21From this it is inplied that John Wright, slater, it is the father of John Wright merchant,
and that as heir to both Alexander Wright is the grandson and son respectively.
22 His address is given thus by a Mr Rolland writing from Dunfermline on 26 October

1741: ‘To Mr William Adam Esquire Architect att his house south syde of the Cowgate
opposite to Marlins wynd Edinburgh’. NRAS 1454, Blair Adam MSS, TD 77/142/1494.
23The shared responsibilities in relation to these mutual gables are ‘at length

mentioned in the Disposition ’ of 1709 granted by the Incorporation to John Wright.

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Within the close and forecourt of Adam’s tenement lay a well for which he
was liable for half the expense of ‘Cleansing thereof & furnishing Chains &
buckets thereto’ and for ‘paveing, mending & Cleansing the said Closs’.
Special provision had to be made for access to the westmost ‘vault or Cellar
under the said great Tenement through a back house belonging to the said
Incorporation by the door on the Southside of the well within the Closs, The
said entry not to be above three foot in breadth, and the hight only of the first
jesting and no further west than the door to the said Cellar or vault’.

The stable and offices also acquired in the Disposition might be identifiable on
Edgar’s map of 1742 as the two smaller buildings at the south end of the
garden at its south west and south east corners. Buildings of very similar
aspect are depicted in the Gordon of Rothiemay view of 1647, and might
conceivably be survivors from that time.

The other larger building represented near the south east corner of the
garden, is probably the new tenement built by John Wright, merchant
sometime after 1709, and entered from the south at the end of Raploch’s
Close. This tenement alone was expressly not disponed to Adam, but
remained in the ownership of Wright’s son Alexander.

As part of the transaction it was agreed that Adam would not be allowed to
build walls or other structures ‘within eight foot of the walls of the said other
Tenements belonging to the said Alexr Wright lying on the west of the
Tenement hereby disponed so the lights of the said tenements not hereby
disponed may always be damnified or prejudjed’. Correspondingly,
Strachey, no doubt horrified at native practice, had already provided for the
installation of iron ‘stanchers’ in the first storey windows of Wright’s tenements
overlooking the yard and garden so that Wright ‘his forsaids and their Tenents
are thereby debarred and secluded from throwing out anything from their
windows into the said yeard under the pain of being lyable in dammages as
the Law directs’.24

This was the extent of Adam’s Cowgate property until a second phase of
aquisitions in the late 1730s. It is unclear whether the footprint of the back
tenement buildings as shown in Edgar’s plan of 1742 reflect any alterations by
Adam. Some correspondence between him and the Incorporation of Mary’s
Chapel in 1733 and 1735 points to minor works in levelling the close and
inconveniencies caused by troublesome neighbours.25 The solution to the
latter was that Adam proposed he should rent both the little tenements
involved, and place tenants of his own choosing.26 In 1745 Sir Robert
Henderson of Fordell occupied one apartment in Adam’s tenement,
consisting of a dining room, drawing room, five bedrooms (each with an
ajoining closet), kitchen, pantry, two cellars and two attic rooms.27

24Compare this with accusations of similar behaviour by the Adam household from
the very building disponed by Strachey. See note 26.
25NLS Acc. 7344/1: William Adam to Joseph Wardrop, 24 January 1733; Minutes of the

Incorporation of Mary’s Chapel, 22 & 24 december 1733.


26NLS Acc. 7344/1: William Adam to Joseph Wardrop, 9 December 1735.
27 Colvin, Howard A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects (London, 1978) 58.

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8.23 James Hamilton of Olivestob and William Adam.

By 1738 an opportunity arose for Adam to expand his property eastwards by


taking in the majority of the neighbouring burgage plot. In a Disposition in
favour of William Adam dated 13 April 1738 Mr James Hamilton of Olivestob,
Advocate, and his wife Mrs Margaret Chiesly granted receipt of £110 Sterling
paid to them by Adam as the ‘agreed worth and value’ of the yard or
garden lying southward of Hamilton’s ‘Tenement of Land on the south side of
the Cowgate of Edinr.’28 [Appendices 1.32 & 1.33]

The boundaries of the plot disponed to Adam are described with great clarity
and precision, and are worth quoting extensively. The area is defined on the
south ‘by the Lane or passage leading from the College of Edinburgh to the
Church Commonly cal’d Lady Yester’s Church’; on the east ‘by a wall
Running from the south east corner of the said Garden to the south west
corner of the Malthouses lately belonging to Joseph Cave Ingraver in
Edinburgh Now to the said William Adam which wall described divides betwixt
the Garden belonging formerly to the forsd Joseph Cave on the east side
Now to Mr Charles St Clair Advocate and the Garden now disponed and also
the said east boundary is Continued Northward from the south west corner of
a little Jamb or Gallery belonging to me the forsaid Mr James Hamilton now
standing on the North East side of the said Garden And from the South East
corner of the said Gallery along by the South end of the same And from
thence along the West wall of the said Gallery to the North West corner
thereof where the East boundary ends at an area commonly cald the Closs
which Closs enters from the Cowgate by an arched Entry & is bounded on
the East and North sides by the tenements belonging to me the said Mr
Hamilton of Olivestob and on the West side by a part of the houses or lands
belonging to the said William Adam and the Incorporation of Mary’s Chapell’;
on the west ‘by the Garden & houses formerly belonging to John Wright
Merchant in Edinr. and disponed by him to John Streachy of London Esquire
and by the said John Streachy to the forsaid Wilm Adam which West
boundary betwixt the two Last mention’d Gardens is by a wall Carried on
from the South West corner of the Garden now disponed Northward to the
South East Corner of the house now belonging to the said Wilm Adam and so
Northward by the East wall of the said Wilm Adam’s House untill it ends at the
Southend of a ruinous Toofall now belonging to Me Mr Hamilton which
terminates the Northend of the forsaid Garden and so Joins to the west
boundary of the Closs before described’.

Virtually all of this is readily discernable in Edgar’s map of 1742, with the
exception of the west garden wall mentioned as separating Hamilton of
Olivestob’s garden with that already owned by Adam since 1729. [Figure 48]
It would appear that Adam had taken this down shortly between its
acquisition in 1738 and the first measured survey by Edgar. Confirmation of its
former position may be deduced from Rothiemay’s 1647 plan (Figure 46) of

28NAS B22/20/107/1: Disposition Mr James Hamilton to William Adam, 1738. Registered

20 June 1754.

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the area in which dividing walls between these ancient burgage plots are
clearly shown.

Adam had now secured a second entry from the Cowgate to his holdings
through the close between his and Hamilton’s house. This close led into a
courtyard somewhat larger than Adam’s existing court to the west. It is not
named by Edgar or Ainslie but might logically be associated with Hellistob’s
Land ( a corruption of Olivestob’s Land) which appears in some sources.29 It
eventually formed a main entry into what later became known as Adam’s
Square.30

In 1738 the entrance to the close must have been restricted, therefore
accommodation was made in the Disposition for Adam at his own expense to
heighten the gateway from the Cowgate by raising the arch and the floor of
the room over the pend and by lowering the pavement ‘if it shall be found
necessary by the said Wilm Adam so as to be ten feet and a half...whereby a
Coachman sitting on his Coachbox may pass under the roof’.

The latter took cognisance of the possibility that Adam might develop the
garden area; but, there were limiting clauses applied to the transaction. In all
time coming Adam or his heirs were not allowed to erect any edifice in the
garden within sixty feet of the south wall of Hamilton’s tenement, but with the
proviso that Adam and his heirs should nevertheless ‘have power and and
liberty to add Closets or Rooms to the Eastside of his own house on the
Westside of the Garden But so as these Closets or Rooms shall not reach
beyond sixteen feet and a half Eastward from the East wall of the said house
including the thickness of the new wall and not to encroach upon the Closs’.
Some building work was certainly envisaged, as Hamilton resigned the ‘Stones
and Materialls’ of his ruinous ‘Toofall’ (lean-to) at the north west side of the
court, and a ‘high wall in the Closs’ so these might be demolished and the
area of the close enlarged. Similarly, the materials of the vaults in the garden,
the stairs to and within the garden, and its walls were included in the
transaction. Besides the removal of the west wall of the garden evident by
Edgar’s Plan of Edinburgh in 1742, it is transpires (as explained below) that
William Adam did build, and in so doing incurred the displeasure of Olivestob,
even though the building seems not to have been within the bounds of the
garden disponed, and therefore the terms of the Disposition.

The Trustees of Josph Cave and William Adam, 1738.

29See the schematic diagram of closes in Gilhooly, J., A Directory of Edinburgh in 1752
(Edinburgh, 1988). The relationship of the closes on the south side of the Cowgate
west of Robertson’s Close is probably inaccurate given the suggested position of
Adam’s Land which in reality lay between Hastie’s Close and Hellistob’s Land.
30 In a petition to the Dean of Guild dated 28 June 1766 William Wemyss WS raised a
complaint against John Adam, David Campbell WS, and Patrick Crawford WS. The
petitioner was a proprietor of cellars in the close belonging to Olivestob’s Land which
have been rendered waste by the families and of those petitioned against ‘throwing
Nuisance and Dirty Water’ from the windows of their respective properties...Mr Adam
has only a servitude of an entry tho’ the Closs which he acquired from Mr Hamilton of
Olivestobe, at purchasing his garden, now the area of the Lord President’s House’. Ex
inf Dorothy Bell.

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In Hamilton of Olivestob’s Disposition of 13 April 1738 in favour of William


Adam, part of the east boundary comprises ‘a wall Running from the south
east corner of the said Garden to the south west corner of the Malthouses
lately belonging to Joseph Cave Ingraver in Edinburgh Now to the said
William Adam’ This statement at first appears to confound the chronology of
Adam’s aquisitions, as the surviving documentation relating to the transfer of
Cave’s property is dated 29 June 1739.31 [Appendix 1.34] There were
however, extenuating circumstances in relation to this transaction. Cave
seems either to have been incapacitated or bankrupt, which might have
drawn out the normal legal process. Alternatively, the latter date as stated
might represent the date of the act of the Sasine following upon the precept
contained in the original Disposition rather than the date of the Disposition
itself. What is beyond doubt, is that Adam had actual possession of Cave’s
property by the spring 1738.

Cave is recoreded as ‘Ingraver in the Mint’ by Hamilton of Olivestob, and


‘Brewer’ in the Sasine in favour of Adam. The Mint was located near the foot
of at ‘Gray’s or Mint Close’ [Edgar], on the north side of the Cowgate halfway
between the site disponed to Adam and the Cowgate Port to the east.
In this document one of the earliest formal appearances is recorded of ‘John
Adam eldest lawfull son for and in name of the said Mr William Adam
Architect in Edinr as [his] attorney’. Among the three Trustees who granted
the disposition to Adam on behalf of the creditors of Cave, was Doctor
Robert Lowis, Physician in Edinburgh - probably a relation of John Lowis of
North Merchiston from whom Adam had acquired that estate in 1726.
The subjects disponed to Adam by the trustees comprised ‘a Brewarie a
Brewing house Kiln and Stable sometyme fallen down as also all and haill the
fore and back Closs with free ish and entery to the said Brewing house from
the wynd called Mellross or Robertsons wynd and sicklyke an well Malt Barn
and Steep Lying upon the south part of that Tenement which belonged to the
said Joseph Cave and a Chamber and two Lofts above the saids Barns and
which were sometyme fallen down as the samen were possest by the said
Joseph Cave & Lying and bounded conforme to the interest right and
Infestments of the samen Lying within the burgh of Edinr. on the south syde of
the Cowgate’.

At the same time the Trustees granted Dispositions of the lower and upper
and lower houses formerly possessed by Cave to Mr Charles Sinclair of
Hermistoun, Advocate, and to Sir John Inglis of Crammond. Sinclair also
acquired the garden to the south of the Brewary buildings. Through this
garden ran water pipes from the well of the Brewary to the Malt Steep to
which Adam had sole rights. Provision was made for Adam to renew or repair
these pipes (but not to add to the existing number) providing he made good
any disruption to the garden.

Additionally, Sinclair retained a right to ‘Carry up a stone Gavill consisting of


two foot thick in a streight Line from the south wall or partition of the wester
closet to the east Syde wall of the house fronting from Robertsons Closs & that

31NAS RS27/130 ff.75r - 78r: Sasine in favour of William Adam dated 29 June 1729;
registered 12 May 1744.

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from the ground to the Top if he thinks fitt The said Mr Charles Sinclair...always
throwing a pend or two pends over the breadth of the Malt Barn so as the
Malt Barn may not be encroached upon or prejudged thereby’. A condition
of any such alteration was that Sinclair was obliged to maintain the roof
above the Malt Loft as well as the house, and that the doors between the
garden and the Brewarie were ‘condemned’ at his expense. Sir John Inglis in
turn, had acquired a cellar on the south side of the Brewary, with the right of
shutting up its existing opening and ‘stricking out a door to the wynd’.

Before division Cave’s property was valued at £8160 Scots. In 1744 the
portion transferred to William Adam was valued at £2830 Scots for the
purposes of a policy Adam had with the Edinburgh Friendly Insurance
Company against Losses by Fire.32

Although no detailed boundaries are given in the Disposition of 1738 to


compare, the site is readily identified on Edgar’s Map of 1742 [Figure 48], and
this remains the same in the revised vesion issued by Edgar in 1765.
Documentary evidence confirms that Edgar’s plan of the site already reflects
building operations by William Adam on the site of Cave’s derelict barns; and
this helps explain both the difficulty of interpreting some of the narrative of the
Disposition relative to Edgar’s plans, and the relatively high insurance
valuation in 1744. In a document of 30 July 1750 James Hamilton of Olivestob
agreed to accept in settlement from John Adam, £18 and ‘certain
reparations agreed on betwixt him and me in the laigh Story of the Gallery
belonging to me Contiguous to the Gardens disponed to me to the
deceased William Adam Architect his father, and which was damnified in its
lights and ayrways by buildings made by the said William Adam’.33 As Adam
had entered into quite distinct clauses in Hamilton of Olivestob’s Disposition
of 1738 prohibiting building within given distances, it would appear that the
offending structure must relate to the erection of the west range of buildings
on the site of Cave’s old maltbarns adjacent to Olivestob’s property.

By 1738 therefore William Adam’s property extended from Raploch’s Close on


the west to Robertson’s close on the east - a very sizeable urban plot by any
standards. Whatever plans he had for the site were probably not fully
realised. The reasons are unclear, but from 1739 he was embroiled in a
dispute with Lord Braco over the building of Duff House at Banff. This
difference led to a lawsuit in 1743, bringing financial and personal strain on
Adam which continued until his death 1748. In the interim, the Uprising of
1745 created an air of uncertainty uncon d ucive to speculation.
8.24 John Adam and the Cowgate

Following William Adam’s death, some years elapsed before any further
expansion took place in the Cowgate site under the ownership of John
Adam. In the Window Tax and Annuity Rolls for Edinburgh in 1752 under the
heading of ‘Adam’s Land’, John Adam as resident householder is recorded
as having 46 taxable windows in his property, putting him in the top three

32NAS B22/18/2, ff. 7v - 9r.


33NAS B22/20/121/3: Copy Receipt Discharge & Ratification, by Mr Hamilton of
Olivestob of the buildings next his Gallery. Dated 30 July 1750; registered 18 January
1765. One of the two witnesses to the document was Robert Adam.

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largest private dwellings in the burgh.34 But within a few years Adam was
selling off parts of the Cowgate property. In 1758 a of part of the great
tenement overlooking the mutual close with Olivestob’s Land to the east was
tenanted by the father of Patrick Crawford WS, the latter buying the flat in
1760.35 Similarly, a fleeting glimpse of the great tenement is afforded by the
documentation drawn up when another part of the great back tenement
was sold by John Adam in 1765 to Miss Mary Cheap.36 [Appendix 1.35]

In a Disposition dated 2 December 1765 ‘John Adam of Maryburgh Esquire


Architect in Edinburgh.. with the Special Advice and Consent of his Trustee
Allan Whitefoord of Ballochmyle Esquire’ sold to Miss Mary Cheap, daughter
of the deceased George Cheap Esquire Collector of his Majesties Customs at
Prestonpans:

‘All and Whole that Dwelling House lying on the South side of the Cowgate in
Edinburgh opposite the foot of Marlins Wynd consisiting of Two Storys, the first
containing a Kitchen a Dining room and Drawing room with Pantry Closets and other
Conveniencys, The Second containing three Bed chambers three Closets and other
Convenienceys’.

The entry to the property is given as an ‘arched Entry an gate-way’ leading


from the Cowgate to a ‘plain Stone Court’ in which included in the sale lay
two vaulted cellars under the court and a vaulted coalhouse and a vaulted
ashhouse on the south wall of the court.37 The dwelling thus sold was ‘formerly
possest by the said John Adam and made the west part of his Dwelling house and is
Separate therefrom by a Mutual partition in both Storys’.

Thus we hear of the old Adam household for almost the last time. In granting
the west part of it to Miss Cheap, rights were assigned to her of ‘free ish and
entry to the premisses from the Cowgate by and through the Arched entry
and Gate way that leads to the new buildings lately erected by the said John

34Gilhooley, Directory, p. 71. The others are Lord Milton (54); The Marquis of
Tweeddale (56); Lady Haddington (56). the other residents of Adam’s Land in 1752
are given as Lady Baird, John Dickie Jnr, James Lesslie, Alexander Boswall painter,
and Walter Colville baxter.
35 Dean of Guild Record: Answer for Patrick Crawford, 6 March 1767 in the Petition

and Complaint by William Wemyss WS v John Adam architect, David Campbell WS


and Patrick Crawford WS, 28 June 1766.
36NAS B 22/2/60: Sasine in favour of Miss Mary Cheap, 1 January 1766.
37Confusingly, but almost certainly coincidentally (as the Adam/Cheap Sasine of 1766

definitely uses four distict words ‘a plain Stone Court’) Gilhooley (see note 19) shows
a ‘Plainstone Close’ (given in tandem with Scott’s Land on p70 of his Directory)
between Adam’s Land and Hellistob’s Land in 1752. This Plainstone Close might be
identified as the precursor of Aitken’s Close named from 1758, exactly opposite the
foot of Niddry’s Wynd, and later continued as South Niddry Street (Book of the Old
Edinburgh Club, 1923, Vol.12, 147). The order of closes in Gilhooley is derived partly
from taxation rolls, so it is possible that the exact positions on the ground are not quite
as represented in his diagram. Explanations might be constructed either on the
premise that Gilhooley cited Brown & Watson’s Map of 1793 as a source for close
names (see BOEC as above), or that Adam’s Land is dealt with in the tax collection
quarters only once, commencing at the minor westmost plot bought by William
Adam in 1738 from the Trustees of the Creditors of Joseph Cave, which had an entry
from Robertson’s Close.

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Adam and through the plain Stone Court that leads to the Dwelling house
and Cellars before mentioned’. From this it is unclear whether this gives two
rights of access; one from Adam’s Court (immediately east of Wright’s Close),
and another by the entry further east again (acquired in 1738), which leads
into the large open area in front of John Adam’s ‘new buildings’.

The New Buildings erected in 1761-2 occupied the ground to the east of
Hastie’s Close, and largely within the area immediately south of west half of
William Adam’s great tenement.

Initially, a warrant to erect a new building was granted by the Dean of Guild
on 24 March 1761, but by 1 July Adam had acquired additional tenements
and subjects between his area and Hastie’s Close that brought about a
change in position and plan.38

The dates of the following documents serve well to demonstrate the lapse of
time that might ensue between the actual date of purchase of a property
and the date of formalising the details. Adam’s new buildings were already
erected by the time the documents for acquiring the ground were
concluded.

Principal amongst these aquisitions was the property Disponed by Alexander


Sutherland, Brewer [Appendix 1.36] who in addition to other subjects not
related to the site of Adam’s new building, sold :

‘All and haill that Malt barn sometime possest by Charles Robertson Brewer,
thereafter by Mrs Bennet Brewer, thereafter by David Wright Merchant, Lying within
the Burgh of Edinburgh on the South side of the Kings high street of the same called
the Cowgate upon the East side of the Closs called Hastie’s Closs, with the Kiln and
Coble pertaining thereto, and the Well upon the west side of the said Closs called
Hasties Closs, with the other Well upon the East side of the Bakehouse, and at the
head of the Closs called Raploch or Rapperlaws Closs, Bounded as ffollows Vizt. By
the said Closs called Hasties Closs upon the West, by the woodstead disponed by Mr
Thomas Moffat Minister of the Gospell at Newton To the Incorporation of Baxters upon
the South, By the Vennel leading from the College wynd to the head of the said Closs
called Rapperlaws Closs on the East, and by two houses sometime possest by William
Hastie Writer in Edinburgh upon the North parts, Reserving always to the Tenants &
possessors of the Subjects in Hasties Closs disponed by the said Mr Thomas Moffat to
the said Incorporation of Baxters, and of the other Subjects in said Closs which
belonged to him, The use of both of the Wells above disponed. Which last
mentioned Malt Barn, Kiln, Coble and Wells were purchast by my said deceast Father
from the said Mr Thomas Moffat’.39

38Edinburgh Dean of Guild Petitions. Both variants of the plans are missing. Ex inf
Dorothy Bell.
39 NAS B22/20/121/1: Disposition Alexander Sutherland in favour of John Adam, dated

25 January 1762; registered B22/2/59 ff 231r-233v, 18 January 1765. There are also
two Inventories of writs accompanying this Disposition relating to Moffat and
Sutherland: B22/20/121/1 and B22/20/121/5.
Adam assumed responsibility for all levies payable on these properties from 15
February 1762.

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Pertinent to this transaction is a Sasine to John Adam following upon a


Disposition dated 20 August 1765 by James Cunningham and James Craig,
Deacon and Boxmaster respectively of the Incorporation of Baxters
[Appendix 1.37] by which Adam formally acquired:

‘All and haill that bake house and oven with the wood loft above the same and
other pertinents, sometime pertaining to Patrick Wallace son to the deceast Patrick
Wallace Baxter in Edinr sometime possest by John Fleeming and others thereafter by
Archibald Punton Baxter and Jean Wilson relict of William Hill Baxter, thereafter by
other members of the said corporation as their Tenants lying in the Southside of the
Cowgate of Edinburgh And on the Eastside of the Close called Hasties closs bounded
betwixt the house belonging to Mrs Ferguson Merchant on the North, Hasties closs on
the West, The closs called Raplochs closs on the East, And the stone Tenement which
belonged to Mr Thomas Moffatt minister of the Gospel at Newton on the South parts,
Together with well on the East of the said bakehouse As also a laigh house in the said
Burgh joining the said Bakehouse, and which is the whole ground story of the said
stone Tenement which belonged to the said Mr Thomas Moffat sometime possest by
Mathew Oliphant thereafter by the Tenants of the said Bakehouse and their servants,
As also a little house sometimes possest by Charles Laurie Soldier in the City guard,
thereafter used as a wood loft for the said Bakehouse, and which is the Northmost of
the two houses in the first story of the said stone land, As also All and haill that area or
piece of waste ground used as a wood stead or yeard by the Tenants of the said
Bakehouse lying at the head of said Raplochs closs, and bounded by the Vennel
leading to the Colege on the South, The lands which belonged to William Adam
Architect on the East, The Malt barn which belonged to the said Mr Thomas Moffat on
the North, and Hasties closs on the Westparts, And are all parts of the Just and equall
half of the lands and others which belonged to the deceast Mr Alexander Cairncross
Minister of the Gospel at Dumfries’.40

Edgar’s revised plan of the city in 1765 also incorporates the site of another
dwelling house subsequently built by Adam in 1767, a few feet to the north of
the new building, on the east side of, and and fronting Hastie’s Close. This is
referred to in his Petition to the Dean of Guild dated 24 February 1767 for
which the warrant drawing survives.

Yet even this may not be the final picture, as other manuscript plans relating
to the Adam properties in the Cowgate, not revisited for this account, are to
be found in the Blair Adam MSS.41

On completion the new buildings were sold to private purchasers including


Lord President Dundas.42 The buildings are amply recorded in the many

40NAS B22/2/59: Registered sasine in favour of John Adam, 3 September 1765.


41 These drawings were seen by me some years ago. Subsequently the archive was
closed. The references are:
NRAS 1454, Section 6:
/3. Plan of Mr Adams Subjects in the Cowgate, 1769.
/4. Ground plan of tenement on west side of Robertson’s Close. Endorsed ‘Plan given
in with Mr Adam’s Representation 2nd. Aug 1770.
42 The Rt. Hon. Lord President, Lord Gray, Lord Kames, Mr Charles Sinclair and Mr

Robert Chalmers are the petitioners in a representation made by John Adam to the
Dean of Guild in September 1765 for permission to bring a water pipe from the cistern
at the Society to a cistern to be erected on Adam’s property in Hastie’s Close over an
old well.

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surveys and proposals relating to the building of the South Bridge. Some of
these show changes to the Adam properties since recorded by Edgar in 1765.
Ainslie’s map of c.1781 appears (at least as far as the Adam property is
concerned) to be based on Edgar. However, part of an an unattributed
large scale measured survey relating to the South Bridge proposals, shows the
area in great detail.

In this, the west jamb of William Adam’s tenement appears to have


undergone some refiguration: fronting the street on the west side of Adam’s
Co urt is now a free stan ding house with a semicircular stair tower on its south
elevation. This also appears on other surveys of 1785.43 The buildings on the
site William Adam had bought from the Trustees of the creditors of Joseph
Cave in 1738, and shown by Edgar in 1742 and 1765, have now been
replaced with a long building 49ft. 6in. x 18ft. 6in. on an east-west axis and
with a shaped wall in front. Hamilton of Olivestob’s little square Gallery at the
northeast corner of the garden has also been removed.

While John Adam’s new buildings survived for over a century, most of the
great back tenement and others acquired by William Adam in the 1720s and
30s were compulsorily purchased and demolished to make way for the south
bridge in 1785. The history of this is narrated fully elsewhere.44 (Figures 50 & 51)

Figure 51 : Robert Kay's design for the mirrored elevations that face each other over
the Cowgate. The existing gable elevations are close to these initial sketches.

43Fraser,Andrew, G., The Building of the Old College (Edinburgh, 1989). The survey
poduced by Robert Kay and illustrated pp 64-5, Figs 3.11 & 3.12, shows this apsidal
feature, but unfortunately is unresolved in its rendering of the west side of Adam’s
great tenement. See also The Trustees Plan of 1785, p 66, Fig 3.13; and Robert Adam’s
proposals 1785, p 68, Fig 3.16.
44See particularly Fraser, Andrew, G., The Building of the Old College (Edinburgh,

1989).

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8.3 Decline, Improvements and Development (19th – 20th centuries)

By Morag Cross

The history of this city block was examined using both contemporary and
modern sources. There is a wealth of documentary information about the
buildings and their inhabitants, from valuation rolls to the census records from
1841 onwards. Post Office and Street Directories and Dean of Guild plans also
enabled an idea of the social, commercial and topographic changes to be
traced. The histories of the individual buildings have been traced where
possible, numbered according to the scheme assigned in Addyman (2002).
See Figures

8.31 Streets

The street patterns of this area of Edinburgh have been reworked twice in
recent times. The building of the South Bridge and associated structures, and
the second by the City Improvement Trust after 1866-71 occasioned the first
change. Among the numerous photographs of the site, the most haunting
images are those taken by Archibald Burns, between Martinmas (11
November) 1870 and January 1871. They show the filth and desolation of the
boarded-up closes, bearing the removal notices of the decanted inhabitants
(Edinburgh Central Library). These pictures have been widely reproduced,
and variously dated and attributed (e.g. taken by Burns, 1871, NMRS B31896,
32006; from the RIAS Collection, unattributed but taken c1860, McKean, 1992,
45). Rodger (2001, 425) proposes that they are by J C Balmain, for the
Improvement Trust in 1866 (although the Act was only passed in 1867, ibid,
433)). Balmain began business in 1898, suggesting that Burns is a more likely
candidate (Torrance, 2001, 7).

The eviction and removals notices visible in most views, give a terminus post
quem for the pictures. In one photograph, of the Gaelic Church from College
St (ECL 14458), the notice appended to the wall seems to refer to the
Edinburgh Improvement Act of 1867 (also visible on image 3, Horse Wynd
looking North from College St, with the same bill on the right, ECL 14459). The
lone horse and trap in some of the pictures may have been the
photographer’s, but the correct attribution is not helped by the initials AI (A A
Inglis) beside the captions. Burns’s business was taken over in 1876 by Inglis,
who also traded under Burns’s name from 1876-80 (Minto, 1974, 3). Details of
Burns and Inglis business, based in Hill and Adamson’s original studios in Rock
House, are given in Stubbs (2001, 16) and Torrance (2001, 11, 25).

The bare trees in front of Minto House, west of the church, and slush on the
ground, suggests that the Central Library’s suggestion of winter 1870/1 is
probably correct (Contact prints and City Improvement Trust minuted extract,
1871 in album QYDA 1829.9 (866)). The poverty of this physical environment is
too extreme to be picturesque, but the pictures cannot convey the stench
constantly remarked upon by social campaigners like the Cowgate Free
Church. The “atmosphere being most oppressive and sickening,” there were
“bad smells, especially in warm weather...(and) a raw damp,” (Taylor and
Dickson, 1880, 51, 57). Henry Johnston ennumerated the often medieval

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drainage conditions in each of 159 closes in the Old Town in 1856 (NLS,
APS.1.77.122). Peter’s Close, and Dick’s Close, between College Wynd and
Horse Wynd (ie immediately west of Wilkie House, building 7) were described
by Johnston as “149. Peter’s Close leads to a byre. Entry and all most
disgusting. There is a large dunghill in it...to breed a pestilence...150. Dick’s
Close - Low, dark, filthy, and abominable “ (ibid, 37).

This left a void between the anecdotage and antiquarianism of Daniel Wilson
(1891) and J Grant (1882), and the urgent campaigns waged by sanitary
reformers. The city medical officer HD Littlejohn’s Report on the appalling
sanitary conditions of 1865 (NLS, NE.11.a.11) was supplemented by the interest
architects like John Honeyman took in their own ability to make a material
difference (eg, his paper on “The dwellings of the Poor...the Housing of the
Working Classes...”delivered in 1885). This was also antithetical to the attitude
of Lord Cockburn, whose famous Letter of 1849, some critics regarded as
treasuring rather more of the Old Town than was fit to live in (Rodger, 2001,
427). Some of the other propagandist pamphlets and novels of slum and city
life are discussed in Noble (1985). In 1883, a local historian explained that
“houses, intended formerly as family mansions, having been let out in small
portions, consisting sometimes of a single room” which were now occupied
by whole families (Hunter, 1883, ii). This led to sewage lying in closes and
stairs, causing “noxious effluvia” and disease (Johnston, 1856, 4). By habitual
exposure the inhabitants, and charitable workers, became innured to such
conditions.

Rodger (2001, 415-458) describes in detail the impact of what he calls “social
consciences” upon “civic consciousness...and the built environment,” (ibid,
415), with the background to the Edinburgh City Improvement Act of 1867.
As Rodger points out (ibid, 427), this example of “municipal socialism” saw the
“big three Scottish cities lead the way in slum clearance. Their own
Improvement Acts gave to Dundee in 1871, Edinburgh in 1867, and Glasgow
in 1866 the powers to purchase, clear and redevelop central slum
areas...”(Best, 1968, 340). The moving spirit in Edinburgh was Lord Provost
Robert Chambers, after whom Chambers St was named (and whom Marwick
believes saw the scheme “merely as an expedient for the administration of
recognised public utilities”, 1969, 36). Further histories of the redevelopment
of the Old Town are given in Wood (1974, 51-3), Smith (1980, 99-133) and
Gordon (1979, 178-181). Cousin and Lessels, architects to the Improvement
Trust, recreated a pastiche of the architecture to be destroyed, in a Scottish
baronial style that today informs tourists’, and natives’ views of what
constitues a specifically “Royal Mile” and “Old Town” streetscape (Walker,
1985, 148-52; Rodger, 2001, 435, 438, 475-6). The ultimate result was Patrick
Geddes’ “idealised representation” of the genuine article, Ramsay Gardens
(Welter, 1999, 66-7).

David Cousin (d 1878) was the Edinburgh Superintendent of Public Works from
1847, and laid out master plans in Mayfield and Newington. He also erected
the Edinburgh Corn Exchange in the Grassmarket, and numerous churches.
Cousin officially became architect to the E dinburgh Improvement Trust (with
whom he had already been working) in December 1867, but felt that he
needed assistance due to his poor health (D Walker, 2003). In March 1868,

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John Lessels (1809-83) joined him as co-architect to the Trust. They produced
the Trust’s master document, The Plan of the Sanitary Improvements of the
City of Edinburgh (1866) . The details of the Chambers St programme are
given in Rodger (2001, 432-3, where Cousin is referred to as “Cousins”).

The City Improvement proposals show Chambers St and Guthrie Street


overlaid on the existing scheme, which would cause the eastward
displacement of College Wynd (Central Library, Edinburgh City Improvement
Plans 1866 Sheet 3, Streets 9, 10 (Guthrie St), 11 (Chambers St) and 18).
Although the utilitarian 4-storey tenements in Guthrie St look unremarkable, by
their commissioning, the Trust “created the precedent for municipal housing
in the city,” (Rodger, 2001, 433). Copies of elevations for the new buildings
are found in the NMRS (eg EDD/566/1, Cousin’s elevation of the Phrenological
Museum; A39282/po, D Rhind’s elevations of the School of Arts, 23-5
Chambers St). The thoroughfare first appears in the Dean of Guild plans in an
application for the School of Arts on 18 May, 1872.

Chambers St replaced North College St, (Figure 52) being much wider and
allowing proper vantage points for the new Industrial Museum (later Museum
of Science and Art) and Playfair’s (and Rowand Anderson’s) modified
northern elevations of the Old College. The first Director of the Museum was
George Wilson, brother of the archaeologist, writer and artist of “Memorials of
Edinburgh in the Olden Time,” Sir Daniel Wilson (Wilson, 1860, 408-9, 422, 449).
For Chambers St, and Buildings 10 and 8 (74-5 South Bridge and 1-3 Chambers
St), the architects used a French/Italianate style laid down by City
Superintendent David Cousin. The “round-headed windows and mansard
roofs with iron cresting that still (give) dignity to most of the north side of the
street,” (Fraser, 1989, 335). This was reminiscent of the design chosen by
Alexander Mackison, city engineer for Dundee, after the Dundee
Improvement Act replanned the crossing at Commercial St, Murraygate and
High St after 1872. Mackison may have been aided by Lessels (D Walker, pers
comm), but the overall impression of both buildings is similar (that in Dundee
being described as “so many yards of pattern book architecture” in “The
Builder,” (McKean and Walker, 1984, 42). This versatile “facadism” was
judged fitted for many uses along Chambers St. As in Dundee, it concealed
and unified shops, offices and public buildings.

The confident statement of civic dignity that emerged might inadvertently


have been Edinburgh’s answer to the cultural quarter in South Kensington
built with the proceeds of the Great Exhibition. Chambers St housed the new
premises of the Watt Institute (the origin of Heriot-Watt University), Tron Free
Church, Phrenological Museum, Minto House School of Medicine and the
Church of Scotland Training College, as well as the University and National
Museum of Science and Arts.

There was, inevitably, a counter-reaction to the wholescale demolition


advocated by the Improvers. As part of this, the first paper published in the
first volume of the Book of the Old Edinburgh Club was a “Provisional List of
old houses remaining in High Street and Canongate,” (Home 1908, 1-30).
Realising that improvement did not have to equate with razing everything,
Home suggests “a united and vigorous effort” at conservation is required

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(ibid, 2) Even in the course of writing, Home notes houses that are being
demolished, eg in Fishmarket Close (ibid, 20). Thomas Hamilton, architect of
Buildings 4 and 5, was himself a contributor to the ‘restoration’ of John Knox
House in 1853 (Gifford et al, 1984, 208), saved as a sanctified relic of the
sainted Presbyterian, but its misnomer enabled its preservation and gives an
idea of what was lost.

8.32 Adam Square and South Bridge

The planned residential developments on the south of the City, which


included Brown, George, Argyle and Adam Squares, are discussed in A J
Youngson (1966, 68-9). Adam Square was an early example of a unified
facade design, concealing several buildings. It was soon truncated on its
east side by South Bridge. In its original conception by Robert Adam, the
South Bridge “gave the first clear demonstration to architects in Scotland of
the full potential of a classically designed street,” (Rowan, 1997, 74). As finally
built to the plainer, cheaper designs of Robert Kay, the backs of the buildings
to Cowgate (ie building 3), Blair Street and Niddry St were unadorned. The
opportunity to “carry the design round all sides of a building...(as in) Randolph
Crescent,” so praised by John Betjeman (1972, 28) as a Scottish characteristic,
was not fulfilled. The development of South Bridge has most recently been
studied by Fraser (1989; 2003) and Rowan (1997). The last feus on the eastern
side were sold in February 1800, where Thins booksellers stood (Grant, 1882, I,
375). The occupations of those applying for building warrants in 1800 shows
that the buildings are still under development. The petitioners (usually the
builders) included three listing their occupations as ‘builder’ (see Plan
appendix 1.5).

The Square does not seem to have been photographed intentionally, but it
appears in the background to at least two photographs (one detailed under
Hastie’s Close)(Figures 52 & 53). Archibald Burns’s Improvement Trust pictures
are accompanied by a map showing his viewpoints, from which it can be
seen that his picture no 22 (taken from North College St looking diagonally
north east towards the outer, south face of Adam Square; Central Library
photo no 14, 481) shows the three-storey houses on the corner, with tall
chimneystacks of coursed ashlar. Copious notes (by William Cowan) given in
the original album (Central Library album QYDA 1829.9 (866) 42374, p22)
supply further information locating Hastie’s Close between two houses. This
suggests that the southern end of a building shown in image 23, where it was
photographed from the north, is also shown in the present picture no 22 (see
under Hastie’s Close). The houses with tall chimneystacks appear to be the
side of Adam Square to North College St, from which railings also divided it.

The evolution of Adam Sq is detailed in Mowat (2002). From 1859, the


Edinburgh Young Men’s Christian Institute occupied the Square (Hunter, 1883,
142). Different institutions housed in the Square, including the Watt Institute,
are discussed in Grant (1882, I, 376, 379-82; II, 275).

The Anderson Institution in Glasgow, forerunner of Strathclyde University


(Fisher, 1994, 266) inspired the formation of the Edinburgh School of Arts in

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1821. This later became the Watt Institution, the predecessor of Heriot-Watt

Photographer : Archibald Burns : 1871

H a s t ie s C lo s e

Cowgat
e

South Bridge
Adam Square
from the south west.
A d a m
S q u a re

View Taken from

Figure 52 : Burns Photograph of Adam Square from North College Street, 1871

University, indirectly linking both 1960’s foundations (Kaufman & Blomfield


2002, 22-3). The impetus was to provide affordable science classes for
tradesmen, who, when “brought to think, (do) not remain stationary..” but
“are at once ushered into a new world” of better understanding the
principles of manufacturing and machinery. Beyond the philanthropy, the
end product was also a more efficient worker (Hunter, 1883, 140-1). The
school was based in the bow-windowed townhouse Pentreath has linked
(through the quotation of window forms) with the design sources for
Kininmonth’s Adam House (1995, 105). A former pupil and later lecturer,
George Wilson, described the students as “two hundred stout fellows...rising
tier above tier, piled to the very ceiling,”, mostly self-educated artisans
(Wilson, 1860, 307-9).

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One of the founders , Professor James Pillans (former headmaster of the High
School) was the son of the printer who had worked in Hastie’s Wynd. Pillans
and Wilson’s printing firm subsequently produced textbooks for the School of
Arts (Pillans & Wilson 1925, 72, 107).

“The building of the New Town and ...South Bridge...effectively destroyed


Adam Square’s attractions as a residential area for the well-to-do,” (Mowat,
2002, 99). By the late 1780’s, the upper classes had moved to the New Town
(discussed in Youngson 1966). Between 1803-5, a bookseller and two
surgeons altered premises in the Square (it was near the original site of the
Infirmary, as well as the University). Grant (1882 I, 379) mentions one of them,
Dr Andrew Duncan, Physician to the King, regular pilgrim to Arthur’s Seat on
May Day, and recipient of a public funeral. He owned no 72 (DoG Petn T
Sime, 18 Apr 1844: PO Dir 1840-1, 211). On purchasing their own building in
1851, the School of Arts erected a statue to its inspiration, James Watt (Dean
of Guild, 6 October, 1853). It was removed to Chambers St with the School,
and has now been moved again to the campus at Riccarton.

Mowat notes the “certain professional distinction” lent by the residence of


Rev Archibald Brown at no 75 (Mowat mis-locates him to no 73, Mowat, 2002,
99; PO Dir 1855-6, 69; ibid, 1863-4, 392). However, Brown not only lived here,
but also ministered here. The 1st edition OS map of 1852 shows the Original
Secession Church between Hastie’s Close and Adam Square. The Church
had its principal entrance in the Square, not the Close - a Mr Lindsay was the
pursuer, and Spittal’s Trustees the defenders in a case involving the church in
Adam Square in 1844 (DoG, date of extract 7 June 1844). Unfortunately, the
plans and papers concerning this are missing from the Dean of Guild
collections, and no record of the church’s original appearance has yet been
traced. The church was little noted, being mentioned by Stevenson (1851,
313) and Hunter (1883, 142), but few others. In 1842, the constituent Burgher
and Antiburgher branches of this dissenting movement merged, to form the
Original Secession. This church was the result of multiple schisms and unions
over disagreements about oaths, the national Covenants and articles of
union (history given in Cameron, 1993, 637). The majority of the Original
Seceders joined with the Free Church in 1852, but the Adam Square
congregation persisted alone.

This congregation first met in the School of Arts, Adam Square in 1842.
Archibald Brown joined them from Kirriemuir in 1843, but saw his flock split
“owing to a diversity of sentiment respecting the lawfulness of Sabbath-
schools” in 1857 (Scott, 1886, 331). The dissenters erected a church in Victoria
Terrace, and the remnant section sold the old building to the Improvement
Commission and moved, with Rev Burns, to South Clerk St (PO Dir 1874-5, p23,
Brown listed at 32 South Clerk St). After his death, some rejoined with Victoria
Terrace. The majority of the Seceders joined with the Church of Scotland in
1956 (Cameron, 1993, 637). The outline of part of the church walls is
preserved in later building lines, at the south side of building 13 and the area
of building 11. This northern part of the church is contiguous with the
Improvement Commission “limit of Deviation for Streets nos 10 & 11
(Chambers St)” shown on Sheet 3 of Edinburgh City Improvement Plans 1866,
Streets 9-11 and 18.

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Further details of individual buildings in Adam Square are contained in


extracts from the Dean of Guild sources. The elevation of Mr Sime’s house at
no 73, shows a typical Georgian 3-storey over basement townhouse
(probably in the Square’s NW corner). A two-storey “saloon” was added to
the rear in 1844. A woman, Margaret Spottiswoode, carried out alterations to
create a carriage sales room from an auction house at no 69-70 (both nos
given). She had probably inherited the house from John Spottiswood, who
had a “carron warehouse” there in 1805 (PO Dir 1805-6, 127). This was a
specie of ironmongers, selling the high-quality cast (as opposed to old-
fashioned wrought) iron goods of the Carron Ironworks in Falkirk (G Bailey,
pers comm). Such goods included fire surounds, pans and ranges suitable for
the new houses. Margaret let no 69 to William Inglis, coachmaker, after
widening the central arched window and installing a metal grating as a
bridge over the basement area to admit carriages (DoG, extract 16/7/1840;
1844-5 Dir, 69). They were displayed, like used cars, in “a row of carriages on
each side.” That her neighbours were innkeepers and licensed victuallers
suggests that the spirit of the Cowgate was spreading up Hastie’s Close.
.
8.33 Hastie’s Close

This street has been extensively documented, with modern photographs in


the NMRS. Johnson described it as “well causewayed, with a good surface
drain” in 1856 (p37). It ran down the rear of Adam Square, suggesting that
the square may be depicted in one of A Burns’s City Improvement Trust
images from 1871 (Dr A Fraser, pers comm). The view of Hastie’s Close from
College Wynd (which lay to the west), no 23 in the series of 26 pictures.
(Visible on the World Heritage Trust website, L Cairns, pers comm.; also in the
Edinburgh Room, Central Library, photo no 14,483) may show the western roof
level, chimney, dormer and advanced centrepiece of the School of Arts on
the extreme left. Part of Old College appears in the right side of the
background, and what may be the west, rear tenement in Hastie’s Close in
the centre, with a built-up brick chimneystack, possibly indicated on the 1852
OS map as a projection on the buildings to the west of the lettering “Close”.
The map showing the viewpoints used in conjunction with the original prints
(Central Library, photos 14,482, 14, 483; album QY DA 1829.9 (866) 42374, p23,
p24) suggests that this is an accurate identification. The newer, regular
tenement has lower buildings in front of it (to the east), which may be those
shown in the view, no 22, looking north, down Hastie’s Close.

The printing firm of Pillans and Wilson was situated in Hastie’s Close between
1796-1803, having previously been in Nicholson Street. By 1804 they had
moved to Riddell’s Court in the Lawnmarket. The firm was founded in 1775 by
James Pillans, who was a Seceder, and an elder of their Nicholson St meeting
house. This firm has been overshadowed by Andrew Symson’s more famous
premises in Horse Wynd, at the start of the 18th century, depicted by Wilson
(1891, II, 142) and photographer Archibald Burns (Edinburgh Central Library
Photo 14,469, neg no 92021/2/10). Pillans and Wilson printed religious tracts in
the 1820’s, and continued to be associated with the Secession Church (NLS
Scottish Book Trade Index, www.nls.uk/catalogues/resources; Pillans & Wilson
1925). A breakaway congregation of the Secession Church later had a

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meeting house in Adam Square. Pillans and Wilson are still extant, but do not
preserve archives from this period (Mr H MacLeod, pers comm).

H a s t ie s C lo s e

Cowgate

South Bridge
Figure 53 : Burns Photograph of Hasties Close and Adam Square, 1871

A d a m
Sq u a r e

View Taken from

Photographer : Archibald Burns : 1871


Adam Square
from the north west.

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8.34 Buildings 1, 2, 3 & 10


J & R Allan’s department store/1-3 Chambers St and 74-85 South Bridge

The present building 10, on the corner of Chambers St, was designed by John
Paterson and John Lessels in 1873 for John Smith (Walker, 2003; Dean of Guild
date of extract 31 Oct 1873; Petitioner, John Smith). John Paterson’s and
John Lessels’s elevation of this building, with the mansard roof, dormers and
window architraves has been copied by the NMRS (EDD/566/2).

In a serendipitous instance of synchronicity, the firm that became J & R Allan


was originally founded by Sir James Spittal, builder of the tenements in the
Cowgate, which were lately occupied by the Gilded Balloon. The brief
history of the firm is given in Gilbert (1901, 215-20) and Marwick (1959, 135).
Spittal founded a firm of silk mercers, or dealers in fine textiles, in 1807. In 1822,
he is less glamorously described as a haberdasher, living at 11 Nicolson Sq
(Directory 1822-3, 337). He applied to make alterations to the rear of 60,
South Bridge in 1825, which had been the premises of T & J Blackwoods,
haberdashers (Dir 1806-7, 20). Apart from Spittal’s property speculations, or
investments in the Cowgate (detailed under buildings 4 & 5) in the 1820’s,
there are apparently no other warrants granted to him, or for the premises at
84 South Bridge in the 1830’s. The early indices do not include street numbers,
and buildings can be hard to locate without extracting the individual plans,
which present reasons of economy and scale render impractical. Adjacent
premises, at 85-6 South Bridge, were altered in 1823 (by James Anderson) and
in 1838 (by Adam Bell). This building, which has preserved its southern facade
to the Cowgate, is now occupied by Edinburgh City Council as offices and
an advice shop.

An action was raised by one John Cameron regarding 81 South Bridge in


1839, who may have been a paper manufacturer, based at 79 South Bridge
(1840-1 Dir, 211). At this period, 74-84 South Bridge included such well-known
names as John Keiller confectioner (probably in Adam Sq, which was listed at
68 South Bridge), Melroses grocers, John Spittal, an agent (sometimes an early
form of banking and insurance officer or franchisee), teachers, the True
Scotsman publishers, and shawl manufacturers. The most pretentious entry is
for a carver and gilder “to the Queen and Duchess of Kent” (Victoria’s
mother). This was mainly in the area occupied by Building no 3 (although on
Kirkwoods map of 1817, no 81 South Bridge may extend into building no 2).

Other alterations were carried out: to no 80 in 1841; by the grocers Andrew


Melrose at no 83 in 1841 (plans extracted as A60685, NMRS, listed as being for
John Taylor; who has signed the lower right hand corner. The Dean of Guild
petitioner (usually the person applying for the building warrant) is Andrew
Melrose, 15 July 1841; the elevation legend is inscribed “that shop ...belonging
Andrew Melrose”), showing the insertion of two three-pane flat-headed shop
windows, with a central two-leaved glazed doorway, and a wooden fascia
with scrolled volutes above. The round-headed windows and doors of Robert
Kay’s original terrace are indicated on the neighbouring buildings). Another
applicant was Hannah Cameron, one of several female petitioners, at no 81
in 1853 (soon after occupied by a watchmakers), and again in 1868 (by now
including the Scottish Freeman Magazine’s offices and Rombach Bros, as well

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as a printers and pawnbrokers). Another woman, Jane Smith, planned


alterations at no 80 in 1856 (a toy warehouse in the 1860’s). Other petitioners
are listed in the Dean of Guild plans list extracted at the end of this report.

Various different owners occupied the same premises at 84 South Bridge,


maintaining the same trade in silken goods and fabrics. Spittal and Son were
succeeded by Christie and Alexander in 1840 and expanded the business by
the 1850’s (Gilbert, 1901, 220). They incorporated 82 and 83 South Bridge,
dealing in mourning and gentlemen’s wear. Lawrence Robertson also lived as
well as worked on South Bridge in the 1840’s. By the mid 1870’s, now trading
as Alexander and Macnab, Charles J Alexander also occupied 81 South
Bridge. Their advertising described them as drapers, outfitters, and “The
cheapest house in the Trade for carpets, curtains, beds and furnishings,”
(Directory 1874-5, 3). C J Alexander carried out further building work at no 82
in 1872, and Hugh Paterson to no 77-9 at the same time. In 1876, the firm
became Meldrum and Allan (Gilbert, 1901, 220).

The Allan brothers acquired control in 1883. (Figure 54) By 1885, they had
bought no 80, expanding south along the bridge (Directory 1885-6, 5).
Addyman (2002, vii) describes how the street frontage was redesigned (but
probably later than c1860), with cast iron and plate-glass vitrines, pediments
removed and dormer windows inserted to provide additional warehouse
accommodation. The company’s advertising in the Post Office Directory of
1894-5 (also reproduced in Gilbert, 1901) proudly shows the premises as a
panorama on both sides of the Cowgate arch; only the central shop
doorways preserve a portion of the original arcading as fanlights. The Allans
amalgamated C & T Hodge on the North side of the Cowgate arch, and J
McIntyres in Nicolson St.

The Allans formed a limited company in 1897 (the minutes of their board
meetings now form part of the House of Fraser Collection n the Scottish
Business Archive, Glasgow University (HF33/1/1/1/1). The first board meeting
was held on 1 June 1897, with Robert as Chairman. By the third Ordinary
General Meeting, in February 1899, James had retired and was replaced by H
Speedie. Two thousand shares were put in trust for employees, and the
registered office of the company was at 84 South Bridge (ibid). They
expanded after the First World War, and in 1920 purchased “the adjoining
drapery and general warehouse business of Paterson and Smith to build an
extension. These ambitious plans were almost immediately overshadowed by
accusations of profiteering and demands from shop assistants for substantial
wage rises to keep pace with inflation and for a shorter working week,” (Moss
& Turton, 1989, 117). In 1928, the firm was purchased by the Scottish Drapery
Corporation, who also owned Pettigrew & Stephens and Dalys of Glasgow,
and J W Blair of Edinburgh.

A H Mottram became “house architect” to the company in the 1920’s.


A(rthur) Hugh Mottram (1886-1953) (Scotsman, 13 March; The Builder, 20
March, 1953) was an assistant to Sir Raymond Unwin, the garden city pioneer.
Mottram worked on the “new town” of Rosyth, and was interested in housing
reform, working with various housing associations, as well as being president
of Edinburgh Architectural Association. He established the practice of

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Mottram Patrick in Frederick St in 1930 (D Walker, pers comm; Bailey, 1996,


132; Thomas 1996, 210). Due to his earlier work with J B Dunn and J L Findlay,
who also worked for Jenners store, many of Mottram’s drawings are part of
the Dunn and Findlay Collection in the NMRS. The Scottish Drapery
Corporation commissioned an extensive redesign of what were still essentially
Victorian premises, to bring them into the machine age. The plans, which
mostly date from 1929-32, (see archive appendix 1.4) show, among other
developments:
• alterations to floors below South Bridge street level and openings in
walls, stair to street level, Aug 1929 (E26432);
• new saloon in place of cash room, Sept 1929 (E26430);
• dining room on top floor of nos 77-80;
• shopfitting schemes for ground floor drapery and linen department,
with glass fronted cabinets and drawers (E26422);
• hair dressing salon with private cubicles (E26423);
• the ground floor millinery and corsetry department, projecting out over
the Cowgate frontage above present building no 4 (E26424);
• the insertion of an arcade of obliquely-angled display cases and
octagonal island units at the entrance on the corner of 74-5 South
Bridge (now Biblios Cafe/Bar) (EDD 880/36 & 37).

Photographs taken of the shopfitting and the art deco black granite-clad
shop fronts, with small round grilles under the windows, can be seen in a series
of photographs by F Sage & Co (NMRS, B78868-9, C21001-6), dated c1925 in
the catalogue. They are quite possibly later, as they show the return facade
to Cowgate at South Bridge level, shown in EDD 880/34, dated 1933; and
along South Bridge from nos 77-84, planned on EDD/880/26, dated c1932.
The arcade at 74/75 South Bridge photographed by Sage, is planned by
Mottram in Jan 1933 (EDD 880/33). William Gauldie designed a similar arcade
in 1935, for D M Brown Ltd on the corner of Commercial St and High St,
Dundee (Dundee D o G plans, 80-18, Vol XI, p21). Another one remains at the
Kelvin House drapers, in Dumbarton Road, Glasgow, as a “period piece” of
shopfront design. Some of the polished black granite cladding can still be
seen on South Bridge (eg on building 10, 74-75 South Bridge and on ‘Gossip’
clothes shop, and 1-3 Chambers St). The wooden-framed period doors and
windows with bands of horizontal panes (at no 85-7) may be from this time, if
they are not from a later reinstatement of the property. The Dunn and Findlay
Collection may hold relevant elevations.

It would appear more likely that F Sage & Co’s photographic album (NMRS)
was made as a record of the newly refurbished premises at the same time as
a promotional/souvenir brochure was also commissioned. This is entitled
“Grand Opening of Extended Premises...Mon 25 Sept 1933” (Edinburgh
Central Library, YHF 5429 A41J, C58006). The reverse illustrates the Arcade,
which “by its dimensions and its artistic setting... has become the topic with
the Ladies of Edinburgh...” The same booklet shows the restaurant, with “the
new scheme of furnishing” and the enlarged bay windows on the first floor of
building 3, which survived until the fire.

Another fire saw Turnbull and Wilson reconstructing their shop in 1934 at 60-62,
South Bridge. One characteristic feature of the Cowgate was the addition of

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a lower, or subsidiary, enclosed bridge to the main archway over the street.
This was not the only example nearby - behind Jenners in Meuse Lane (two
examples; 1925 one has single window with broken pediment on ionic
columns) and across West College St (Fraser, 1989, 337) are other “Bridge of
Sighs” models. The bridge connected the warehouse levels of Allans
departments, and was built in 1929 (DoG plans, date of extract 26 July 1929,
along with other alterations between 1929 and 1933, including new shop
fronts and arcade at 1-3 Chambers St, Jan 1933). The enclosed corridor
bridge merited a mention in the Scotsman (24 October 1929), and has added
further melodramatic gloom to this atmospheric underpass. There have since
been suggestions that the original profile of the main bridge should be
restored.

The minutes for the 55th AGM, June 1951 show that the Company had a
trading profit of £32,303, a slight decrease on the previous year. In a
presciently topical note, the minutes record that trading “has perhaps been
influenced by fears of shortages and higher prices. If the war in Korea and
the expansion of the rearmament programme continue, there may well be a
shortage of supplies and the rise in prices may result in consumer
resistance...conditions are too uncertain to make any forecast of this year’s
results,” (GUA, HF33/1/1/1/1, pp113-116).

Hugh Fraser bought the group in 1951 for almost three million pounds. The
company was paying fees for architectural alterations in 1951 of £263/5-, and
spent£143 1 on repairs and renewals. In 1952, over £3000 was spent on repairs,
perhaps as a result of Fraser’s takeover (GUA, HF33/3/1/1, sheets 3, 5). In
early 1953, the company of J & R Allan Ltd, was wound up voluntarily by the
Chairman, Hugh Fraser. Frasers opened a new food hall in 1954, and inserted
lift shafts in 1957. The store became part of the Arnotts group in 1971, along
with D M Brown in Dundee, which has also been recently redeveloped (Moss
& Turton, 1989, 135, 177, 217; GUA HF33/1/1/1/1, Special Resolution 30/1/1953).

Building 1 included the premises of Style and Mantle, about whom less
information has been available. They also carried out alterations c1929-32,
the plans being part of the NMRS Dunn and Findlay Collection. They applied
to reconstruct shops after a fire at 1-3, Chambers St and 74-6 South Bridge
(later J & R Allen’s property) in July 1929 (Dean of Guild plans). They inserted
new floors with extensive new structural steel supports by “Constructional
Engineers Redpath, Brown & Co” of Edinburgh. The architect on NMRS EDD
880/44 is listed as M K Glass, of Newcastle. The structural sequence here
could be elucidated by the extraction of some of the DoG plans. On
Mottram’s elevations for Allan in 1933, Style and Mantle occupy 75, South
Bridge, and still appear to retain an Edwardian-style window arrangement,
despite their recent planning applications. (Figure 54)

Later uses of these buildings can be traced in building warrant applications,


including an amusement arcade (1984), cafes, and a public house (1983).

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Figure 54 : J & R Allan Store, as depicted in 1901. with the store in the 1950s (below)

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Cowgate

8.35 Building 3, The Bridge and Earlier Views of the Site

235-7 Cowgate preserved its Adamesque facade to the North, rising through
seven floors to its raised wallhead parapet. With the Living Room pub at
Cowgate level, the orientation of the building turned through 90 degrees
between the overhead and underpass streets. The integral carriage arch led
from the Cowgate to Commercial Court, the north gable wall being listed
category “C”. With its twin opposite, it framed many views of the
impoverished Cowgate traversed by Robert Kay’s viaduct, in a literal
demonstration of ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ social stations. The fire site may be
illustrated in the background to some of these views, such as Thomas
Shepherd’s drawing “South Bridge from the Cowgate,” engraved in his
“Modern Athens displayed in a series of views...or Edinburgh in the Nineteenth
Century,” published in 1829 (An earlier version by J Storer, 1818, is shown in
Fraser 1989, 80). Fraser identifies the views as looking east, suggesting that the
predecessor to Spittal’s shops is just visible at the extreme right edge of the
image. The building’s details are, unfortunately, quite obscured.

The wallhead was altered along South Bridge and the original pediments
were removed. They survived nearly intact on the gable of 85-7, and on the
north side of no 84. At 84 South Bridge, the outline of the pediment was built
into the raised roof line with its balustrades, which was probably added during
one of Allan’s building campaigns in the early 20th century. In the illustration
in the 1894-5 PO Directory, the gable is intact. By A H Mottram’s Cowgate
elevations of January 1933, (NMRS EDD 880/34) the gable wallhead has been
squared off. Allans applied to make alterations at no 84 (Building 3) in 1906,
1920 and subsequently.

8.36 Buildings 4 &5/


Gilded Balloon/233 Cowgate

The Gilded Balloon theatrical and comedy venue brought international


media attention to the site of the Cowgate fire. It opened in 1986, but the
buildings had a long previous history and a distinguished designer. They share
their architect, Thomas Hamilton, with George IV Bridge and the Royal High
School. The two adjacent 4-storey tenements presented a uniform facade,
both with arcades of six openings to the street. Building 3, to the east,
covered the entrance to Commercial Court in the heart of the complex.

Ainslie’s map of 1800, and a late 18th cent map (reproduced as SC761559 in
the NMRS) show the typical street pattern of the old town, long narrow lands
running back from the Cowgate. There are three buildings between Hastie’s
Close and the rear of the South Bridge structures (now building 3). The central
of the three buildings is further divided into two properties (the east side of
South Bridge is not yet built). The detail in Ainslie, 1801 is more general, but by
Kirkwood’s map of 1817, the construction of South Bridge has reduced three
lands to two to the east of Hastie’s Wynd (which ran up from the Cowgate
behind the west side of Adam Square, to North College St).

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Building 4 Building 5 Hasties Close


Figure 55: 1823 Elevation detail from Thomas Hamilton’s designs for buildings 4 & 5
note the arcaded shopfronts on the Cowgate Street Level.

In 1823, James Spittal, a silk mercer and future Lord Provost, “to the
admiration and envy of his neighbours, opened up handsome saloons to the
back along the line of the Cowgate,” (Gilbert 1901, 229). The architect of
building 4 was the rising star of the Greek revival, Thomas Hamilton (1784-
1858), who initialled the plans as “TH Jnr,” (extracted plans in NMRS, A60589 &
A60588; DoG, petitioner J Spittal, warrant dated 19 June 1823; date of extract
28 June 1823). (Figure 55) Although omitted from Colvin’s list of Hamilton’s
work, the architect did undertake a number of small commercial
developments in the 1820’s (I Fisher, pers comm; D Walker, pers comm;
Colvin, 1995, 454-5; Rock, 1984, 2). Among these were premises in George St
for W and T Blackwood, publishers. Spittal’s two uniform buildings anticipate
Hamilton’s treatment of “a unified facade for both shops” for Blackwood’s in
1829 (ibid, 48). This saw the far grander “use of twelve fluted monolithic Ionic
columns across the facade” (ibid), with a full entablature, rather than Spittal’s

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flat pilasters between stone arches with simple archivolts. Rock (1984, 46n)
identifies the same segmental arches used again in Arthur Lodge (1830), also
attributed to Hamilton.

Hamilton was concerned with improving access to the old town to prevent its
economic and social stagnation (he worked on proposals for the “earthen
Mound,” Robertson, 1932, 83; Rock, 1984, 15-21). While working for Spittal,
Hamilton was also involved with drafting proposals for what would become
George IV Bridge (executed by the first Edinburgh Improvements Commission
after 1827), and the magisterial Royal High School (Youngson 1966, 156-9,
166-72).

Although it may be fortuitous, the rhythm of the Cowgate arcade openings


might reflect Hamilton’s interest in streetscapes and town planning. From the
top of Blair St, the shopfront arches lead the eye across the Cowgate, and link
up the east and west sides of Blair St in one almost-continuous “narrative,”
now interrupted by Commercial Court. There were originally eight arches to
building 4, forming four doors and four shop windows. The eastern two have
been removed, but this would give fourteen arches when completed across
building 5. The arcading thereby acted as a unifying link between the wider
arched windows running down the hill, a literal eye-catcher. That this was
deliberate is suggested by the legend on the original Dean of Guild drawing,
“Elevation fronting Blair Street,” (Building 4, DoG elevation dated April 11
1823).

The initial proposals were for a flat frontage, which was amended to the
present intrusion into the Cowgate at an oblique angle (NMRS A60588,
showing the changes inserted on a paper strip overlay). This followed closely
the uneven, but oblique building line of the previous tenements. Hamilton
proposed to introduce more regular fenestration (with rooftop cupolas) and
include a curved, or bowed corner on the east side to Liberty Court (a
passageway). The eastern elevation to Liberty Court showed the gables of
the four-storey front and rear blocks, linked by a lower courtyard range (DoG
section A-B, extracted 28 June 1823).

Liberty Court has not been included in Harris (1996), Boog Watson (1923), nor
in the gazetteer to Kirkwood’s map of 1817 (Commercial Court is omitted
from both, but appears in Gray’s 1834 Directory, p180 at 247 Cowgate.
Boog Watson (1923, 145-6) has Liberton’s Close as an alternate designation
for Hastie’s Close.

In James Spittal’s petition of 1823, the tenement on which he wishes to


“demolish all old buildings and build others” is bounded by properties which
were “sometime pertaining” (ie possibly many decades earlier), to named
proprietors. These included the Masons to the east, Alexander Cairncross,
minister in Dumfries to the west, and the way leading to the Church of St Mary
the Virgin in the Field on the south (ie North College St). As the church was
ruinous in the 1560’s, the other names may be similarly antiquated (Fraser,
1989, 32). Alexander Cairncross (1637-1701) had been “laite minister at the
(Trinity) Colledge Kirk,” from 1663, and was translated to Dumfries in 1668. He
later became Archbishop of Glasgow (Fasti I, 132; II, 265; Wood 1950, 53).

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Spittal’s neighbours to the south, Fairbairn’s Trustees “feel they have already
indulged him by allowing him to encroach upon their back area” in building 4
(DoG, Answers for Trustees, 4 Mar 1824). The signatories as “conterminous
proprietors” of 14 April 1823 include J Anderson, J Cameron and J McGlashan
(the latter running a more refined cabinetmaker’s on South Bridge, and an
auctioneer’s below in the Cowgate).

In 1824 Spittal petitioned for the construction of building 5, beside Hastie’s


close (NMRS A60586, SC754540). His builders, Thomas Ponton and David
Paton, erected a facade uniform with building 4 (which is described, as of 4
Mar 1824, as being “presently erecting”). The elevation shows the familiar
arcade, which housed shops, with a low arched pend to Hastie’s Close on
the west(DoG plans, date of extract 6 April 1824). The plans are unsigned, but
are also attributed to Hamilton (Rock, 1984, 2, 4n).

The building was delayed by a dispute with the estate of a deceased


bookseller, John Fairbairn, whose property lay in Adam Sq to the south.
Fairbairn purchased his property in 1801 (Sasine, 10 June 1801), and it would
appear to be no 70 Adam Sq (1804-5 Dir, 97; further investigaton of the Dean
Of Guild petitions and in the Register of Sasines would clarify this). Spittal
wanted to “square his property” with the rear wall-line of building 4 to the
east. This involved transgressing onto Fairbairn’s “too fall which they have
fitted up as a bedroom above and a henhouse below, erected on the site of
a malt kiln,” (DoG, Replies for J Spittal, 11 Feb 1824). The lean-to seems to
have been built against the old party wall, which was six feet wide at the
bottom, lying north of Adam Sq. The argument was resolved by the erection
of a single, mutual gable, paid for mostly by Spittal.

The inventory of the title deeds of Mr Fairbairn’s property (at the north end of
Adam Square) includes the sale by the Incorporation of St Mary’s Chapel in
1710, the sale to William Adam in 1729, the disposition to John Adam in 1763
and his sale to the South Bridge trustees in 1787. Further deeds are listed,
taking the property (south of building 5) into the early 19th century.

Spital also applied to erect a “ware-room,” lit by a cupola, behind 60 South


Bridge in 1825 (following South Bridge’s retention of consecutive numbering,
no 60 is on the east side, before Drummond St - see Gent, 1949, 65-6). James
Spittal was Lord Provost from 1833 to 1837, gave his name to Spittal Street,
and had an unremarkable administration, being “mild and conciliatory”
(Whitson, 1932, 115). It is noteworthy that Spittal is associated with the fire site
twice over. He also founded the firm at 84 South Bridge which eventually
became J & R Allan (Marwick, 1959, 135 ).

The two Cowgate tenements had been built with attention to classical
detailing and the proportions of the windows, but subsequent inhabitants
were less high-status. Some of the later occupants of these or adjacent
buildings in 1840 (street renumbering makes identification inexact, and is
beyond the scope of this report) included two cabinetmakers, an ironmonger
and Mary O’Brien, one of three women trading as “brokers” (out of 21 on the
same page for Cowgate, 1840 Dir, 156). Willison Glass, town-crier also lived at
no 233. Most of the other businesses in the Cowgate were spirit dealers,

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cabinetmakers and a few brewers. In the 1870’s, Patrick Dillon, furniture


broker occupied 233 and lived at 235 Cowgate, sharing premises with a
cabinetmaker and upholsterer. In the 1890’s, the tenants were Gilhooly and
McDermott, who do not list their occupations. The Irish surnames “reflected
the heavy concentration of Irish in central Edinburgh. It was they who were an
easy target and often criticised for the numerous beershops and brothels in
the ill-lit closes...” (Rodger, 2001, 424). In the 1851 census, 29 % of the working
population of the Old Town was born in Ireland (Gordon, 1979,178).

In the 1930’s and until the 1970’s, the area was used for goods delivery by
Allen’s and Arnotts. The later adaptations of the buildings included part of an
amusement arcade extending from South Bridge level (1984), bars and
restaurant use (1980’s), and a picture framer’s workshops (1990). Artistic and
theatrical ventures moved into the premises, including the Gilded Balloon in
1986. In the 1980’s, the arches were opened up and the pavement and
street front recessed behind the previous building line. This widened the
pedestrian area and created a covered arcade, which was “C” listed.

8.37 Building 6
229 Cowgate/former Palace Cafe/Wilkie House theatre extension

Dr Dorothy Bell has pointed out the dangers of uncritically accepting pictorial
evidence for the appearance of buildings before the use of photography
(1999). However, with 229 Cowgate, the physical remains themselves
supplement an engraving of the facade. The frontispiece of Taylor and
Dickson’s History of the Cowgate Mission (1880) shows an accurate (if
overscale) representation of the church facade, with the part of the building
to the east, a three-storey, almost-certainly three-bay tenement with a
central door on the ground floor. Before its destruction, building 6 had been
heightened by the addition of two storeys. The change in walling was visible
in the west gable, showing the divide between the lower stone and upper
white glazed brick (NMRS photographs E32710, E32650). The modern Hastie’s
Close was entered through a covered pend at the eastern side of this
building, and had retained the same number (231 Cowgate), from 19th
century street directories (eg 1840 Directory, p156). The caption on a
photograph of Hastie’s Close refers to actors’ Hansom Cabs making their way
to the Operetta House stage door, off the Close. How this was accomplished
with the steps shown on the 1877 OS map is not clear, but there may have
been other approaches to the performers’ entrance.

This building was probably numbered 229 Cowgate in the 1875-6 PO Directory
(p270), the only address between Cowgate Free Church at 227, and Hastie’s
Close at 231. In 1840, Peter Mallan, broker (pawnbroker or furniture dealer)
occupied no 229, succeeded by Alex Crerar, spirit dealer (one of at least 14
brewers and spirit dealers listed in the Cowgate in 1863), who was still there in
1894 (PO Directories 1840-1, 156; 1863-4, 329; 1894-5, 403).

The People’s Palace Mission next door remedied the situation by “adapting
the premises...of a reformed public house...(as) a very effective counter
attraction to the drinking shops,” by opening the Palace Cafe staffed by
volunteers. This provided not “free meals, but cheap meals” to the locals

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(Annual Report, 1934, 16). The late 1920’s/early 1930’s photographs in the
People’s Palace Mission Annual Reports show the cafe with a plain glazed
frontage, panelled door, and the westernmost arch of building 5 still partially
blocked. The polished wooden gantry and bar of the pub remained inside,
now decorated with a tea urn and flower vases. Today, some timber pilasters
and ionic capitals of the pub frontage are still extant.

In 1936, a new single-storey purpose built cafe opened to the west of the
church, on the corner of College Wynd (Annual Report, 1936, 4-7). This
included a Women’s Room, or parlour where they could attend sewing and
other classes. The original Cafe (building 6) became a play centre for
children unable to be accommodated in the already-full children’s club
rooms upstairs. (ibid, 10). In anticipation of later artistic uses, art students
contributed murals to the refurbishment.

The Mission continued to use the buildings, until the closure of nearby hostels
and lodging houses around 1961, which removed those who had formed
their later clientele. In 1962, they wrote “the Cowgate is quiet, almost
deserted. Twenty...years ago it may have been ..poverty-stricken..but (it was)
vital,” (Annual Report 1962, 3). The church moved the focus of its social
programme elsewhere. Building 6 finally became part of a bar and club,
owned by Festival Inns Ltd. Building warrants had been granted for extensive
renovations in 2002, the latest application being in October shortly before the
fire.

8.38 Building 7
Cowgate Mission and Territorial Free Church (217-27 Cowgate)/ Wilkie House Theatre/ Faith
(207 Cowgate)

The Free Church established a mission in Cowgate in 1852-3 (Ewing, 1914, II,
3). The parent church, the Free New North Congregation, Forrest Road were
pursuers to the Dean of Guild Court for permission to build at 215-7 Cowgate
in July 1859. The New North’s own architect had been Thomas Hamilton (“The
(North) church was...in no way pleasing, Dunlop, 1988, 92), builder of the
tenements at 233 Cowgate.

The congregation in “this destitute district,” where “vice and immorality


abounded in every stair and close,” (Taylor & Dickson, 1880, 34, 37) raised
sufficient funds to lay their new church’s foundation stone on 26 September
1859. A buried glass ‘time capsule’ included church histories and three
contemporary newspapers. In the 1875-6 PO Directory, the church is at 227
Cowgate. The church occupied the site of two single-storey shops, a
confectioners and cabinetmaker (Taylor & Dickson, 1880, 34; 1840 Directory,
156).

The first minister was John Pirie (1825-94), a former schoolteacher in Roslin. The
active mission of the Cowgate Free Church included combating the very real
problems of widespread extreme poverty and alcohol abuse. The church
was designed by Patrick Wilson, the architect of the more elaborate, and
genteel, South College Street UP Church of 1856. Described as “routine Dec”
(Gifford et al, 1994, 225), the building cost £2397 and seated 573 (at a time
when nearly 600 attended the Sunday Schools, and pew sittings were

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routinely rented to raise funds). Although it was designed in a deliberately


economical style, the broach spire and varied window forms allowed Wilson
some stylistic flourishes. A London man gifted the bells in 1860 (Taylor &
Dickson, 1880, 32-5).

By 1864, the church already required repairs due to wet rot in the floor (not
aided by lack of drainage in the area, see Johnston, 1856). In 1872, the
church purchased ground at its south end, which had been cleared by the
City Improvement Trust. The south wall of the church was “in critical
condition,” by 1877 “owing to the accumulation of rubbish caused by the
removal of old buildings.... and formation of Guthrie street...the surface water
had saturated the wall and endangered its stability...producing bad smells..”
(Taylor & Dickson, 1880, 57). Conditions were so extreme that they caused
members to faint and become ill. Various plans were made to extend the
overcrowded accommodation, until they were forced to move temporarily
into the Operetta House at 5 Chambers St in 1877.

“The Builder” of Feb 22, 1879, records the enlargement “from designs by
Messrs Thornton Shiells and Thomson. These will not affect the elevation
towards the street, but the interior will be greatly improved both as regards
effect and light...”(p211). This included lenghthening the church by 19 feet.

The additions were necessary to accommodate the Sabbath Free Breakfast


and People’s Palace Mission, an early church-run social service and outreach
programme. “Originating in mid-December 1874, a product of the Moody-
Sankey revival of that period...(the Mission involved) continuous active service
among the very poor...every evening of the week,” (Ann Rep 1936, 4). The
Mission ran playgroups, educational classes, Sunday Schools, youth
organisations and seaside outings during the early 20th century. Clothes
donations and subsidised food canteens were also organised. The relative
level of poverty can be guaged by the attendance of 32, 591 people at the
free meals after Sunday Services in 1913. Twenty years later, attendance was
still 12, 331.

The appearances of the Church and fire site are seen in pictures in the
Mission’s Annual Reports, which in 1934 show the facade much as it exists
today. In 1936, a six-bay, single storey charitable cafe was built to the west,
on the site of the present 205 Cowgate. The free Sabbath breakfast ceased
in the early 1950’s, and the redevelopment of the area led to a loss of
population. The Mission was no longer viable, and around 1960, the church
was sold to the University. The Mission continued to use the Cafe until the
early 1960’s.

The congregation united with College Street and Pleasance United Free
Churches in 1910, to form Union UF Church, worshipping in Patrick Wilson’s
other building in South College St. The successor congregation finally moved
to Muirhouse Church in 1961 (Dunlop, 1989, 428-432).

The Cowgate building became Wilkie House Theatre, where the University
Settlement altered the cafeteria in 1983 (Warrant 83/1690, Building Control).
Further alterations were made in 1998, and in 2002 before the fire.

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8.39 Building 8 Traffic Wardens Offices/7-8 Chambers St

This was intended as part of the parade of educational and institutional


buildings on the north side of the new link between George IVand South
Bridges. It was designed by David Cousin, City Superintendent of Works, and
built by John Lessels in 1885, Cousin having died the previous year. Described
as “three bays of unmodified Cousin elevation...(with) punchy detail,”(Gifford
et al, 1984, 223), it bears an inscription above Guthrie St. In an elaborate
pedimented surround, is inscribed “Near this spot stood the house in which Sir
Walter Scott was born 15th August 1771; Memorial Tablet erected by the
Town Council 1887; Sir Thos. Clark Bart Lord Provost; James Lessels Archt.”
(James was the son of Improvement Trust architect John Lessels, and this may
be refer to the frame design, Gifford et al, 1984, 353). College Wynd
migrated eastwards in the changed topography of post-Improvement
Cowgate (Fraser, 1989, 336), and has been replaced by the upper section of
Guthrie St. College Wynd, originally Kirk o’Field Wynd, was photographed by
Archibald Burns, where a reminder of its ecclesiastical past can be glimpsed.
About 1842, Daniel Wilson describes the ogee-arched window, shown
obliquely in picture ECL 14, 473, (no 14 in Burns’s publication). “A
curious...window, and fitted with an antique oaken transom and ...shutters
below.” On the adjoining tenement, he has drawn “an elaborately
decorated Gothic niche” which has survived the “transformation from a
Collegium Sacerdotum...to a brewers granary and a spirit vault...” (Wilson,
1891, II, 140-1, 154). William Cowan has transcribed these passages into the
original photograph album, but the Gothic niche is not apparent in the
pictures (album ECL qYDA 1829.9 (866) 42374).

In 1945, 6 Chambers St was the District Registrar’s Office. Before the war,
Edinburgh Police had used a former church in Jeffrey St as a training facility.
Following the purchase of Tulliallan Castle by the Home and Health Dept in
1950, police training was reorganised. Chambers St became the Edinburgh
City Police Training School, Recruitment and Special Constabulary Depts, with
a police-clothing store at no 8 (PO Dir, 1945-6, 660; Dir 1950-1, 643; Archibald,
1990, 28; A Cross, pers comm).

The police retained use of the building until the late 1970’s, when they moved
training to their Fettes headquarters. The premises are currently used as Traffic
Wardens’ offices.

8.3.10 Building 9 Adam House/Gaiety Theatre/Operetta House

The history and design sources of Adam House have been extensively
documented by B T Pentreath (1995). The examinations hall of Edinburgh
University, it was designed by William Kininmonth and erected between 1950-
4. The facade, contained on the narrow site left by the demolition of the
Operetta House, is a diminutive, if crowded reinterpretation of Adam’s Old
College. The more spare, modernist treatment of the elegant rear elevation is
revealed for the first time by the demolition of the surrounding buildings in
Cowgate.

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The site at 5, Chambers St was originally the Gaiety Music Hall, built in 1875 for
Carl Bernhardt (Peter, 1999, 27; not yet included in the 1875 PO Directory,
260). The manager, J G Crovelli, realised that the opening performance by
“Lady Don” was under-appreciated. “(She) seemed to be suffering from a
severe cold...” and “Noises of all kinds were raised from the pit,” leading to
her indignant departure from the stage (University Theatre Souvenir
Programme, 1955). Robert Young and William Stewart applied to demolish the
third easternmost tenement in Chambers St in August 1874, probably near this
site. In the immediate vicinity in 1875 were the Argyle Brewery, and Watt
Institute.

“The name of Moss Empires is synonymous with the variety business,” (Peter,
1999, 9), but it is less well known that Sir Edward Moss, a native of Edinburgh,
managed the Gaiety as his first theatre from 1877 (Baird, 1964, 14-15; Bell,
1998, 178). He revived its fortunes, which had seen the bill become
increasingly downmarket. He bought adjacent shops, and “the University
Hotel above the theatre...to house his artistes’” (ibid, 27). Moss made several
applications for alterations to the theatre, adding to the south upper gallery in
1880, and further alterations in 1881 and 1882. As mentioned above, the
Cowgate Free Church found Moss a sufficiently respectable manager to
lease the building for services for three years while their own church was
being refurbished.

The collected research of Mr G Baird , Edinburgh Theatres, Cinemas and


Circuses, 1820-1963 (1964, repr 2000, Edinburgh) contains a more detailed
history of the ownership and entertainments repertoire of the Operetta House,
including extracts from advertising (ibid, pp 125-30). Internal photographs
show it to have held galleries, supported on cast iron columns, beneath a
ceiling toplit by cupolas. A band of glazing ran round the auditorium at
clerestorey level, the panes following the curve of the arched roof (Central
Library, photos of demolition, nos 3054 to 3056, July 1950; duplicate NMRS,
B67346, showing stage, erroneously dated as 1954). The (as yet unnamed)
architect was following the contemporary fashion for iron-framed buildings
exploited to full advantage in Captain Francis Fowke, R.E.’s Royal Scottish
Museum of 1861-75, which also sat along Chambers St.

Known first as the Operetta House, then the Gaiety, Moss sold it in 1892 (Baird,
1964, 125), and it was renamed the Operetta once more. Moss had imported
top London acts, but in 1897 it was advertising “Sam Hague’s Minstrels” for
seven nights (Scotsman, Jan 20, 1897, p1). In 1906 it became a cinema. Moss
built up a large chain of variety theatres (including the Empire Palace in
Nicolson St), which continued after his death in 1912, to comprise a touring
circuit of 38 venues by 1932.

From 1939 until the 1948, the theatre was used as a furniture store, before
becoming the headquarters for the new National Health Service Insurance for
Edinburgh in 1948. It was demolished in July 1950 (Central Library photos nos
3054-6). Hastie’s Close led to the courtyard containing the stage and scenery
dock doors and rear exits. The yard’s gate piers, at the half-landing where
the Close turned west (shown in Central Library Photo no 16.202), survived the
construction of Adam House.

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The theatrical tradition of the site was continued by performances in Adam


House’s basement University Theatre, which opened with “Daughter of the
Dawn” by the University Dramatic Society in August 1955. In keeping with the
Adams’ Greek sources of inspiration, the play was “after”Aristophanes. A
University Press Release from 1955 describes the building’s name as “a
graceful tribute to the memory of Robert Adam, whose home was in Adam
Square...The new building...rises 66 feet from Chambers Street...each storey
contains a large hall (one has) a special ballroom floor and the top storey has
been fitted for use as an Art Gallery...” (Baird, 1964, 129). It seems apposite
that the architect of Adam House, W H Kininmonth was following an earlier
namesake associated with the site. In 1840, his predecessor, one A
Kinninmont, a shawl manufacturer, had a shop at 80 South Bridge.

Highlighted red are the entries for J & R Allen, including the entry for the
Adam/Allen bridge ( dated 1929) over the Cowgate.

Figure 56 : Sample selection of petitioner list

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9 Conclusions

The disastrous fire of 8 December has resulted in the destruction of a highly


important sector of the historic fabric of the City of Edinburgh. Historically this
area is of the greatest interest. Not only does the site contain one of the few
undeveloped areas of the Cowgate – with the boundaries and substantial
surviving fabric of the tenements available for study – but has been directly
affected by a some of the most significant 18th and 19th century
developments of the Edinburgh Townscape - the Adam Square and South
Bridge schemes; and the creation of Chambers Street respectively.

The destruction has provided an unusual opportunity to undertake a


comprehensive salvage recording exercise in conjunction with an equally
comprehensive study of what are clearly extensive historic records. The study
is unusual, as a thorough examination of the evolution of a large unit of
townscape throughout its history in a little studied (for the pre-1750 period)
area of the City. An additional future dimension to the study will be the
archaeological examination that will need to take place in advance of the
redevelopment of the site.

The small excavation that took place in advance of required safety work
showed the existence of extant archaeological deposits beneath the
foundations of the South Bridge structures (buildings 1-3) and it is more than
likely that this represents an indicative level of survival of historic remains.

It is clear that the understanding of the space between the buildings, and the
layout of the pre fire structures has been integral to the comprehension of the
site as a whole. Structural surprises have been enhanced by detailed
examination of the historical record, placing elements into context.

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10. Acknowledgements

Many thanks are due to Morag Cross, Robert Maxtone-Graham, William Kay,
and James Simpson for their help in the historical understanding of the
buildings within the site area and their extensive research into the history and
available resources referencing the site

Thanks are due to Dr Andrew Fraser for the benefit of his extensive knowledge
and research into the South Bridge scheme.

Diane Watters of the RCAHMS very kindly provided much assistance, as did
Ranald McInnes of Historic Scotland, Robin Adamson of the City of Edinburgh
Co
uncil who calmly oversaw the whole site, John Lawson of CECAS who
acted as a forgiving Project Manager, all at Will Rudd Davidson, especially
Paul Ross and of course all those working for Dalton Demolition who supplied
both goodwill and mechanical help in the recording process.

For Section 7 :

The staff at NLS, including the Map Library, Edinburgh Room at Central
Library, AK Bell Library, Pat Dennison at Edinburgh University, Sheila Millar &
Ruth Calvert at Midlothian Local Studies, Richard Hunter at Edinburgh City
Archives,

For Section 9 :

I would like to thank the following people for their assistance in researching
the history of the Cowgate site: Dr Andrew Fraser, University of Edinburgh; Ian
Nelson, Andrew Bethune, Edinburgh Central Library; Diane Watters and Ian
Fisher, RCAHMS; Prof David Walker, Edinburgh; the staff of Edinburgh City
Archives; the staff of Glasgow University Archives and the Scottish Business
Archive, University of Glasgow; Chatriona Hossack, Edinburgh City Council
Development Dept; Linda Cairns, Edinburgh World Heritage Trust; Alan Cross,
Training Sergeant, Scottish Police College; Hamish MacLeod, Pillans & Wilson,
Edinburgh; Geoff Bailey, Falkirk Museums.

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