Dean Village & Ravelston Edinburgh Area,
Historic Sites, Attractions, Activities.
Dean Bridge and Dean Village Edinburgh
Things to be seen in the Dean area are the 2 Art Galleries, The Dean Cemetery, Dean Bridge, St Bernard’s Well and
St George’s Well, the Water of Leith Walkway, the Royal Botanic Gardens and on a Sunday there is an outdoor market
near to St Bernard’s Well at Kerr Street Stockbridge.
A single-arch stone bridge near to the same spot was built for ease of crossing at the foot of Bell’s Brae in the Dean Village previously of wooden construction. The river is the Water of Leith which flows from the Pentland Hills to the Port of Leith where it joins the Firth of Forth before joining the North Sea. There is a walk way at the side of the river with a visitors centre in Lanark Road that can give you detailed information on the best routes.
The Water of Leith walkway extends from the Shore at Leith to Balerno a village suburb of Edinburgh over 19 km from the shore. The pathway is suitable for walking or cycling.
Carved in the stone on the Belford Bridge is:
ERECTED BY THE MAGISTRATES
AND TOWN COUNCIL OF
THE CITY OF EDINBURGH
WITH THE AID OF THE LOCAL SUBSCRIPTIONS
OBTAINED BY THE BELFORD BRIDGE ASSOCIATION
THE RT HON SIR THOMAS CLARK (BART) LORD PROVOST
Dean Bridge Edinburgh
The Dean Bridge was designed by Thomas Telford, and was completed in 1831. The Dean Bridge
was Thomas Telford’s last project at the age 73 and retirement. The Dean Bridge is 447 feet long (136m) and 39 feet wide (12m) and built on four arches rising 106 feet (32m) above the river. Prior to the building of the Dean Bridge the only way across the river in to Edinburgh was by a ford in the river, which had been crossed since medieval times (5th to 15th centuries). A bridge, of wooden structure across the water of Leith was built in the 5th century.
Dean Bridge House
The house on the corner of the bridge was once a Tavern and Bakers, the square panel on the wall shows a sun with two arms below one holding scales and the other a wheat sheaf with two baker’s paddles crossed.
The inscription below reads:
IN THE SWEAT OF THY FACE SHALT
THOU EAT BREAD
GEN 3 VERSE 19
ANNO DOM 1619
from the Dean Village
The Water of Leith around the area of the Dean Village was the site of a number of Distilleries which are now closed. The Sunbury and Dean Distillers both closed many years ago but you can still get the taste of the Dean Whisky as it is now made at the Loch Lomond Distillery to the same traditional recipe as it was made in the Dean Distillery from 1818 to 1922.
Bells Brae Bridge
In the centre of the Dean village is the Bells Brae Bridge (pictured right) the original crossing point of the
Water of Leith.
The Bells Brae Bridge is where the original crossing to Edinburgh was in the 5th century a single arch bridge
wide enough for a carriage with horses. This was the only way across the Water of Leith and the main link on the route from Edinburgh to the Queens Ferry before the Belford Bridge and Dean Bridges were built diverting flow of traffic away from the Dean Village.
This stands below the Belford Bridge which was built in 1887 to carry Belford Road, part of the old road from Edinburgh to Queensferry.
Dean Village was a small village outside Edinburgh and was famous as a grain milling area for over 800 years, the name Dean (Dene) meaning Deep Gorge, as you can see the village has steep hills on all sides. It is now a popular residential area with the benefits of it’s proximity to the city centre.
The Dean Village
(Water of Leith Village)
The Dean Village with the Water of Leith flowing through, grew as a community in the 1100s from the mills that were built on the river banks. You will see many stones carved with crossed paddles of the bakers, as this area supplied all the bakers of Edinburgh with there flour. The old Tolbooth was a Granary built in 1675. The stone carving shows the sign of the bakers crossed paddles. At the side of the bridge is Bell’s Brae House a merchant’s house built in the mid-1600s. On the pathway towards Leith under the Dean Bridge is an area called Miller’s Row where you can see three mill stones resting against each other previously used in the Granaries in the 1600s. 70 meters west of the bridge is a waterfall and there is a great variety of wild life. A resident near the waterfall is the Grey Heron and with luck you could spot wild otters.
Well Court @ Dean Village
The most impressive building is of Well Court, built in 1886 by the then owner of the Scotsman newspaper Sir John Findlay. The court had its own hall for socialising with a clock tower a communal court yard and a number of tenements for local workers.
Ravelston Area Edinburgh
Ravelston Area Edinburgh was outside Edinburgh and had limited access due to the water of Leith and they valley made by the water. There was a quick growth of wealthy merchants that built houses when the Belford Bridge opened giving easy access to the Edinburgh’s New Town.
National Galleries of Modern Art
Two buildings that house a large number of interesting and amazing works of art.
Scottish National Gallery
of Modern Art One
Scottish Gallery of Modern Art One Ravelston Area Edinburgh
Ravelston Area Edinburgh, The building was originally the home of John Watson’s Hospital (school) built in 1828 by William Burn with funds left by John Watson an Edinburgh solicitor on his death in 1762 and closed in 1975 due to lack of funding. The gallery opened at its present address in 1984. Set in large grounds it features a stepped S-shaped landform by Charles Jenks which provides the setting for a range of sculptures. The Gallery collection has approximately 5000 pieces ranging from prints and paintings to contemporary video installations are all house in the gallery.
There is also a café for refreshments.
The Plaque at the door to the Gallery of Modern Art reads;
John Watson’s school 1828 – 1975 | This building originally John Watson’s Institute | was designed by William Burn in 1825, opening in 1828 under the aegis of the society of H M Writers | to the signet, its original purpose to house | maintain and educate destitute children, the | institution became John Watson’s school in 1934 | enrolling fee paying pupils while maintaining its | original purpose and by 1957 the school offered continuous education to all pupils from 5-18 years. | In 1975 despite its growing reputation John Watson’s school unexpectedly closed after the withdrawal | of its grant. The building reopened as the Scottish |National Gallery of Modern Art in 1984.
Scottish National Gallery
of Modern Art 2
The Dean Gallery building was designed in 1833 by Thomas Hamilton and was originally an orphanage.
The clock is said to be that of the Nether Bow Port that once stood as the gates to Edinburgh in the High Street.
The Gallery opened in 1999 and is home for the Eduardo Paolozzi collection. In the grounds are sculpture and graphic art, It contains a large collection of Dada and Surrealist art and literature and also holds temporary exhibitions.
There is a café for refreshments
Stewart's Hospital was also built in this area in 1855. Daniel Stewart a wealthy merchant of Edinburgh left money in his will in 1814 for a hospital (school) to be built for the unfortunate children that could not afford to be schooled in other institutions giving preference to families with the name Stewart. Melville College was a former school, Edinburgh Institution for Mathematics and Language, which opened in 1832 and renamed in 1936. Daniel Stewart’s College and Melville College were joined in 1972 and became, Daniel Stewart’s and Melville College.The School is now after amalgamation of three schools Mary Erskine School, Daniel Stewart’s College and Melville College, in 1974 created the largest independent family of schools in Europe.
Sir William Fettes
Sir William Fettes was born on 25 June 1750. When he was eighteen he went into business as a grocer, trading in wine and tea from Smith’s Land at Bailie Fyfe’s Close in the High Street Edinburgh. He retired from trading Tea and Wine in 1800 to concentrate on his many other investments. He was also twice Lord Provost of Edinburgh. William Fettes lived at 13 Charlotte Square up to 1810 when he purchased the estate of Comely Bank not far from the school’s present location. In his will he made a bequest which was to lead to the foundation of Fettes College. The school itself opened in 1870, 34 years after Sir William’s death and is now one of the top private schools in Edinburgh. There have been many famous students attend Fettes College none more famous than Toni Blair
School for Girls
Mary Erskine donated a sum of money from her husband’s estate to the Company of Merchants of Edinburgh, to have a school built to educate the poor children of Edinburgh Merchant families. The School (Hospital as they were called) named Merchant Maiden Hospital first opened in the Cowgate in the Merchants Hall which was situated where the arch of the George IV Bridge now stands in 1694. It then moved to new premises on the corner of Bristo Street (now Bristo Place) and Lothian Street in 1706. As it grew it moved again to new premises in 1818 at the Lauriston area at the foot of Archibald Place. In 1870 moving once more to larger premises in Queen Street, in the New town and changing its name to Edinburgh Educational Institution for Young Ladies. It was renamed in 1889 to The Edinburgh Ladies’ College. In honour of Mary Erskine the school changes its name in 1944 to The Mary Erskine School and a final move to its present home at Ravelston in 1966. The building being Ravelston House which was built circa 1620.