Our home in the heart of Edinburgh’s New Town, may sound, when written down, like we’re based in a modern industrial business park environment but it couldn’t be further from the truth. As much a part as Edinburgh City Centre as any other, Edinburgh’s New Town is only new by comparison, it was in fact built and developed in the 18th and 19th centuries. This is why buildings such as ours fit in beautifully with the surroundings and give visitors a taste of elegant architecture and some sterling examples of urban town planning at its finest.
New Town at a Glance
Edinburgh’s New Town is awash with buildings of the neo-classical style, some even complete with Grecian style pillars, decadent high ceilings and friezes and decorative plastering within. Many of the buildings in the area have been modernised on the inside, providing home to busy office workers or redesigned as modern apartments but the exteriors often remain as grandiose as ever.
New Town property is highly sought after and even mews properties, once home to stables and servants, make desirable modern working and living spaces. Building codes ensure that the Georgian feel of New Town is kept perfectly preserved. The cobbled street, ornate pillars and sandstone block facades are kept perfectly intact and even the iron railings around the area have to keep to the code, only being allowed to be painted black.
New Town: A History
Going back to the mid-18th century New Town was nothing but a medieval jungle with a mishmash of narrow streets and tall buildings leading down to the foot of Edinburgh Castle. The population of Edinburgh was growing massively and there was a significant need for better quality homes. Around 60,000 people were stuffed within the walls of the city and it was the partial collapse of one of the tenements in the New Town area which led to action.
In 1766 a competition was held by the City of Edinburgh to develop 100 acres of city-owned land as a residential suburb. The winning bid went to James Craig, just 21 at the time, who designed the grid system well know well, with three main streets, Princes Street, George Street and Queen Street integral to his design. Formal squares sat at either end of his cross-crossed grid: St Andrew’s Square and Charlotte Square.
The development took its time to grow but eventually Craig’s plans came to fruition and though it took 20 years to pay off the cost of building New Town, the results certainly seemed worth it. The architect behind many of the most famous buildings in the area was Scotland’s finest neo-classicist, Robert Adam. Adam designed Charlotte Square in its entirety and though it wasn’t complete until after his death, it bears all the hallmarks of his best work.
Edinburgh New Town is listed, alongside Old Town, as an UNESCO World Heritage site due to its retention of its Georgian character and neo-classical architecture.
Abercromby Place (see photo above), home of the Royal Scots Club, is an exceptional example of the Georgian architecture of Edinburgh’s New Town. More than this, it benefits from a central location which makes it a wonderful place to enjoy the rest of New Town from but also visiting other parts of the city.