Edinburgh's New Town:
The original New Town in Edinburgh was constructed in the Georgian style between 1767 and 1820, principally comprising the area bordered by Princes Street to the south, Queen Street to the north and St. Andrew Square and Charlotte Square to the east and west respectively. The area was extended in periods up and until the mid 19th century to encompass York Place, Picardy, Hope Estate, Claremont, a second New Town to the north of Queen Street, the Raeburn Estate, Walker Estate/Western New Town, Stockbridge/Saxe-Coburg, Canonmills, Calton Estate/Eastern New Town and the Moray Estate.
Buildings constructed since the 1830's are generally regarded as 'the Victorian Extension,' to the north of Dean Bridge to Comely Bank and west/south towards Haymarket/Donaldson's School/north towards Belford. The latter includes Drumsheugh Gardens, named after the Earl of Moray's home, Drumsheugh, originally at what is today the junction of Great Stuart Street and Randolph Crescent (which was then surrounded by over 5 acres of parkland and subsequently developed as The Moray Estate).
New Town as it is Today
Early New Town Proposal
Binns corner, Princes Street, subsequently House of Fraser
The Victorian buildings in Drumsheugh Gardens, arranged in the terraced form of the original New Town, surround a private garden area. The properties are occupied in the main as private residencies with commercial occupiers peppered around the area. Medical use dominated in the first half of the 20th century; private clinics, GP surgeries, hospitals and doctor's homes. The Bonham Hotel at number 35, for example, was 'The Private Clinic' until 1951 when it was sold to The University of Edinburgh as student accommodation. Properties are 4-storey plus basement, mainly comprising rooms with high ceilings, meaning that top floor residents may find themselves with over 80 steps to climb (few have the benefit of lifts). Very few of the properties are single occupancy today, most having long-since been converted to individual flats.
This aerial view was kindly provided to the late Lord John McCluskey by Douglas Corrance specifically for our use on the website. It's a view looking north from high above Haymarket Station and showing virtually all of the Western extension to the original New Town with St. Mary's Cathedral as its centrepiece.
The gently curving crescents of Eglinton/Glencairn and Grosvenor/Lansdowne can be seen stretching towards the west while Melville Street provided the axes along to the east, aligned with the Cathedral. Palmerston Place divides the two and can be clearly seen as it links the top left of the picture with the bottom right. Some of these streets have become major traffic thoroughfares east-west/west-east since alternative, less residentially dominated areas, have been closed to through traffic to accommodate the tram system.
The triangular shape of Drumsheugh Gardens can be clearly seen immediately to the right of the tip of the tallest shadow from the Cathedral's spires. Judging by the hint of Autumn colour on trees seen throughout the picture, this was photographed around noon on a late Summer day. The Dean Village can be seen at the top centre, low down at the Water of Leith.
Facades, including The Bonham Hotel, splendidly refurbished in 2019
The South-facing facades
Most of the buildings around Drumsheugh Gardens have grand entrances and stairwells, few benefitting from lifts therefore requiring top floor residents to climb up to 80+ steps. The images above show the grand entrance to No. 30 (left) and the stairwell to 23 (right). Some are very ornate, other more utility. The image of No. 30 was kindly supplied by Savills Lettings (and photographed by Squarefoot Media). The image of 23 is now out of date since a carpet colour change was implemented. Several buildings have a history of medical related uses, as nursing homes, private hospitals and doctor's homes.
Meldrum House, 15 Drumsheugh Gardens, for many years occupied by Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs is shown here under construction during the year 1959 as seen in the image (kindly provided by Margaret Hedge). The left-hand image shows the buiding in July 2019 with protective sheeting designed to hold in place elements of spalling concrete cladding for safety reasons. Built on the site of St. Andrew's Church (that was destroyed by fire) it was designed at a time when Government buildings were not subjected to the Planning Permission constraints of today, hence such an unfit building for its fine Victorian surroundings. In the early 2020's, the site received Planning Permission for redevelopment to an 'Aparthotel' comprising over 160 units and due for completion in 2023/4, despite objections raised by a number of neighbouring property owners, partly on the basis of volume of units and the innapropriate design and height of the proposed building (in the view of some residents). Although not directly impacting upon the 'Gardens', the proposal remains of considerable concern for the overall area, incluing its potential impact on traffic volume increases.
Typical Section Through New Town Garden:
The drawing above was created in respect of the description of a typical section through an Edinburgh Georgian New Town Garden (the Garden at Drumsheugh is within a Victorian setting but, in principle, designed to respect its Georgian neighbours), as recorded in the book by Dr. Connie Byrom called, "The Edinburgh New Town Gardens - Blessings as well as Beauties." The late Connie Byrom's book is highly respected as 'the authority' on the subject and has subsequently been enhanced by a similar publication by her husband, Dr. John Byrom, entitled, "The Care and Conservation of Shared Georgian Gardens."
Valuable reading on the subject of Edinburgh's New Town and Georgian Gardens:
The following books are highly recommended and are excellent sources of history, town planning, architecture and garden design. See photographs below:
Origination of the Upkeep Committee:
The Drumsheugh Gardens Upkeep Committee was established in 1878 with the remit to preserve and maintain the quality of the Gardens for the benefit of owners/residents/occupiers and is guided by a Constitution, reference to which can be made upon request through the Contact page on this website.