Things to See
Edinburgh Southside Things to See
There are many things to see on the southside of Edinburgh many of them are included in other sections as the southside had many connections with the University of Edinburgh and Edinburgh's city wall. This page shows all the other historic sites and things to see. Click on the button for more about the City Wall, University of Edinburgh and George Square and Gardens.
The Southside of Edinburgh was only accessible after the South Bridge had been built. The foundation stone of the South Bridge was laid 1 August 1785 by Lord Haddo who was the Grand Master Mason of Scotland. The South Bridge opened in 1788 to pedestrians and traffic to give direct access to the south of Edinburgh. To make way for the South Bridge many houses and closes were demolished. The Tower at Portobello which still stands was built in 1785 by Mr James Cunningham from stones window sills and lintels from properties that were knocked down to allow the South Bridge to be built. The South Bridge is visible from the Cowgate where it passes over the street. Nicolson Square was built on Nicolson Park circa 1750 on land owned by Lady Elizabeth Nicolson at the same time as she built a new road which was later named Lady Nicolson Street and now shortened to Nicolson Street a continuation of the South Bridge linking the South with the Old Town of Edinburgh. There is a square of Nicholson Street with a garden. In the Garden is a Brass Pillar and Iron Fountain.
South College Street Edinburgh
South College Street which runs down the southside of Edinburgh University Old College wall was the boundary of the city wall and had no name. (map of 1793). On John Ainslie’s map of 1804 South College Street was named. Also on the map of 1793 it shows, a street from Candlemaker Row to South Bridge Street as Jamaica Street (Later to become Chamber Street). South College Street is now a dead end and on the north side can be found West College Street where entrance to the Talbot Rice Gallery can be had.
Charles Darwin attended the Medical School for 2 years but did not complete the course due to its degree of difficulty. However, he went on to write “The Origin of Species” later in his life. If you walk past the bollards you will see on the wall a plaque to Charles Darwin that reads; Darwin | On this site | Charles Darwin (1809- 1882) | author of The Origin of Species | lodged at 11 Lothian Street | whilst studying medicine at the | University of Edinburgh | 1825-1827.
William Topaz McGonagall
South College Street Edinburgh
William McGonagall was born in March 1825 and died in September 1902 he was a Scottish weaver, poet and actor and was regarded as the worst Poet in the English Language to put pen to paper. Writing over 200 poems of which the worst by far was “The Tay Bridge Disaster”. His turn of verse has been made known by the Goons, Monty Python, Spike Mulligan, and Peter Sellers. The name of the character Minerva McGonagall in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series was named after William McGonagall. Go down to the Poetry Library in the Canongate Edinburgh to read his works and judge for yourself. Inscription on the plaque above the door of 5 South College Street red; William McGonagall | Poet and Tragedian | Died Here | 29th September 1902. Now go back under the Potterrow Port and continue to see the sites.
Agnes McLehose (1759-1841) was known as Nancy. Nancy first came to Edinburgh to live in Potterrow near
the corner with Marshall Street after her husband left her to make his fortune in Jamaica. Robert Burns first meet
with Nancy on the 4th December 1787 at afternoon tea and the assignation started. Mishap and misfortune stopped
them from meeting for some time but they wrote to each other regularly. The love affair was to last until their death but their last meeting was in December of 1791 when Nancy left for Jamaica to be with her now wealthy husband. Read the famous letters written with code names Nancy being (Clarinda), Rabbie being (Sylvander) and not to forget the love song to Nancy `Ae Fond Kiss'.
Nicolson Square Edinburgh
James Finlayson born in Penicuik a few miles from Edinburgh in 1772. He became a textile mill engineer in 1820 he moved to Finland and seeing the opportunity in the fast flowing river of Tammerkoski, he open a company which manufactured machinery for the textile industry which became the largest industry in the Nordic countries in the late 19th and early 20th century. He was the person who made Tampere the second city of Finland. He also opened an orphanage for the children in Tampere. In 1838 he moved back to Scotland and moved to 8 Nicolson Square were he died at the age of 80.
The Brass Iron Founders’ Pillar
Nicolson Square Garden Edinburgh
The Brass Iron Founders’ Pillar features the biblical character, Tubal Cain the legendary founder of brass and iron making skills. The designer of The Brass Founders’ column was James Gowans the Lord Dean of Guild, commissioned by the Edinburgh and Leith Brass Founders for the 1886 International Exhibition of Science Art and Industry held in the Meadows where it won a gold medal. It was later shown at the Scottish National Exhibition in Saughton Park in 1908. It was then gifted to the City of Edinburgh. The pillar can be found in Nicolson Square Garden across from The Surgeons Hall Museum.
Nicolson Square Gardens
The cast iron fountain was made at the Sun Foundry in Glasgow by George Smith & Co circa 1866 and was shown at the International Exhibition on the meadows in 1886. The granite plaque next to the fountain in Nicolson Square Garden gives a brief description of the pillar and fountain.
King Fahd Mosque
Islamic Centre of Edinburgh
There is a community of over 12,000 Muslims in Edinburgh the first families arriving in the early 1950s. The Central Edinburgh Mosque has capabilities to hold over 1000 worshippers. The present Central Edinburgh Mosque is located on land that was purchased in the 1980s with a condition that the mansion house that is on the land would remain. The mansion house is still standing and is used for an exhibition and at Ramadan. The Mosque was opened in 1998 (1419) by the son of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia who donated 90% of the cost to build the centre.
George Square |George Square Gardens
George Square in Edinburgh is in the centre of the University of Edinburgh Central Campus. In the centre of the square is a garden and around the square are buildings for learning. The Square and gardens were first laid in 1766. On a number of the walls are plaques of famous students. There are also a number of famous ex-residents who lived in the square. In the garden there are many benches to site and take time to contemplate the world and read a book. There are Standing Stones. One of which has been carved with a figure as if the stone had been split down the middle and the figure was revealed. George Square is also the centre of the Edinburgh Festival and Fringe every year in August.
Mrs Alison Cockburn
Mrs Alison Cockburn was born in 1710 and died in 1794. She was a Scottish poet and socialite always in the company of the names of the Edinburgh enlightenment. Names she could call friends Robert Burns, Walter Scott and David Hume. The plaque reads; Mrs Cockburn 1710 -1794 Who wrote “The flowers O the forest ” lies buried near here.
Buccleuch Parish Church
(Chapel of Ease)
The Church that stands in Chapel Street at the junction of the Cross Causeway was originally called the Chapel of Ease as St Cuthbert’s in Lothian Road had become too small for its congregation. The congregation of St Cuthbert’s Church had the Chapel of Ease built in 1754 and it opened its door in 1756. The most significant factor is the graveyard as there are a number of important people of the period buried in the graveyard here due to the over crowding of St Cuthbert's graveyard in Lothian Road Edinburgh.
Dr Andrew Duncan
(Pioneer of mental health)
Dr Andrew Duncan a pioneer in mental Health was born in St Andrews on 17th October 1744. In May 1770 he was admitted a licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians. In 1776 he founded the Edinburgh Dispensary. a great man of medicine who died in may 1832. For over 50 years he would climb to the top of Arthur Seat on the 1st of May to celebrate the Queen of the May which he did up to his death.
Edinburgh Lunatic Asylum
The Edinburgh Lunatic Asylum was founded by Doctor Andrew Duncan in 1809 and opened in 1813. Which he founded in Morningside Terrace Edinburgh. The Asylum was previously on the site where the Bedlam Church Theatre stands now at Forrest Road and Bristo Place Edinburgh. Dr Andrew Duncan was a pioneer in mental health. The Duncan family vault has Charles Darwin interned. As he was a patient in the Bedlam Asylum however Dr Duncan had recognised he was not crazy but had a brain injury from a fall. He was uncle of Charles Darwin who wrote "The Origins of Species".
Charles Darwin (1758–1778)
Charles Darwin’s Uncle of the same name, (1758–1778), died at the age of 20 why studying at the University of Edinburgh Medical School. He is buried in the Duncan family vault in the Chapel of Ease. The Plaque to is nephew Charles Darwin Author (The Origin of Species) is on the wall in Lothian Street where he lived while at the University Medical School. Unlike his Uncle Charles Darwin was a brilliant student but his life was cut short. The words on his headstone read; Charles Darwin | was born at Lichfield | September 3rd 1758 | and died at Edinburgh | May 15th 1778 | Possessed of uncommon abilities and activity | He had acquired knowledge in every department | of medical and philosophical science much beyond | his years. He gained the first medal offeredby | the aesculapian Society for a criterion | to distinguish | MATTER FROM MUCUS; | and had prepared a thesis for his graduation | on the Retrograde Motions of the | Lymphatic Vessels in some deseases. | He cultivated with success the friendship of ingenious men, and was buried by favour of | Dr A Duncan in his family vault.| ” Fame’s boastful chessel fortune’s silver plume | mark but the mouldering urn, or deck the tomb! ”
William (Deacon) Brodie's Grave
William Deacon Brodie, (master craftsman and robber), William Deacon Brodie's grave is in the north west corner of the graveyard but due to time and the weather the writing on the stone has worn away. Read about William Brodie and who he was Brodie’s Close Lawnmarket Royal Mile Edinburgh https://www.allaboutedinburgh.co.uk/lawnmarket-royal-mile
Dr Thomas Blacklock
(The Blind Poet)
Dr Thomas Blacklock a Minister in a Borders town church was better known as “The Blind Poet”. Due to illness as a baby he lost his sight before he turned 1 year. He lived on the corner of Chapel Street and West Nicholson Street now a public house named (The Pear Tree) where on the walls can be seen many poems, written by Dr Thomas Blacklock, the blind poet. He was the person that invited Robert Burns to come to Edinburgh, where he introduced Burns to the high society of Edinburgh.
Royal Company of Archers
Buccleuch Street, Edinburgh
The Royal Company of Archers has had its base in Edinburgh at Archers' Hall Buccleuch Street, Edinburgh since 1777. The Royal Company of Archers is a ceremonial unit that serves as the Sovereign's Bodyguard in Scotland, a role it has performed since 1822. The Archer’s would have tournaments in the Meadows where they would regularly practice. In 1424 by the act of the Scottish Parliament the game of football was prohibited for the more necessary science of archery.
Historic Railings Edinburgh
Historic railings at Leven Terrace, Lonsdale Terrace, Marchmont Road and Hope Park Crescent were restored by the friends of The Meadows and Bruntsfield Links in partnership with The City of Edinburgh Council 2007. The restoration works were grant aided by funding from waste recycling goup limited, distributed by WREN. The railings were cast at the Beaverbank foundry by Charles Laing & Sons Ltd.
Robert Burns Meets
Sir Walter Scott 1786
The one and only time Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott met was in the house of Professor Adam Ferguson in Sciennes House Place, also present were Adam Smith, Dugald Stewart and Joseph Black. This was a meeting place of the hierarchy of Edinburgh society. Inscription reads; This tablet commemorates | The meeting | of Robert Burns and | Sir Walter Scott | which took place here | In the winter of 1786-87.
Edinburgh Synagogue and Hebrew Community Centre
The Synagogue in Edinburgh was opened in 1932 and 1500 people attended the first service. The Synagogue in Salisbury Road is the only Synagogue in Edinburgh and has been since 1932. The first Synagogue in Edinburgh was in North Richmond Street in 1817. There has been a large Jewish community in Edinburgh for nearly 200 years. The Salisbury Road building was the initiative of Dr Salis Daiches, who served for 27 years as the Rabbi. Piershill Cemetery is now the main Jewish Cemetery for Edinburgh.
Royal Commonwealth Pool
Dalkeith Road Edinburgh
The Royal Commonwealth Pool opened in January 1970 for the Commonwealth Games which were being held in Edinburgh. The Royal Commonwealth Pool was also used for the 1986 Commonwealth Games which were also held in Edinburgh. It was also used in the 2012 Olympic Games and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. The pool is open daily to the public for swimming.
The Innocent Railway
The building of the Innocent railway was first started in 1826 to transport coal from the pits in Dalkeith Midlothian to Edinburgh. The carriages were horse-drawn and a great success. In 1831 further lines were added, connecting Leith and Musselburgh. This railway has the oldest rail tunnel inn Britain. The train became popular with passengers as it took them to the beaches at the coast. The route Starts at the tunnel under Holyrood Park Road. The Rail goods and coal yard were once situated where the houses in East Parkside stand now. The rail line is now a walkway and cycle path.
The Innocent Railway Route
East Parkside Innocent Railway Tunnel EH16 5BQ - Southside of Duddingston Loch, crossing Duddingston Road West, - Portobello, South Leith or Duddingston – Niddrie, Millerhill, Dalkeith. The walking and Cycle Path is now part of the national cycle route. The route is signposted - St Leonards – between Prestonfield Golf Course and Duddingston Loch – South of Duddingston Golf Club – Bingham – Magdalene – Brunstane – Newcraighall – Stoneybank – Monktonhall – whitecraig – Woodburn Dalkeith and beyond. The Innocent railway was purchased by the national rail in 1945.
Waterloo Memorial Edinburgh
This monument to the memory of the Battle at Waterloo 1815, in a square neglected, stands outside Hermits Termits House built by William Clifton 1734 and where the Scots Poet William Bell Scott was born in 1811.
Hermits Termits House
Hermits Termits House was built by William Clifton a solicitor of Excise, another resident of note was William Bell Scott (1811–90) was a Scottish poet, painter, art critic, was born in Hermits Termits St Leonard’s Edinburgh. The initials on the crest C under the crown for Clifton W for William and the M for Mary and 1734 was when the house was built. William Clifton was a descendent of Sir Gervase Clifton “the Gentle” who was at Pinkie Cleugh in 1547.
The Holyrood Distillery and Visitor Centre is based on the southside of Edinburgh beside Arthur Seat at St Leonard’s Hill. This is the first Edinburgh city centre distillery to produce in over 200 years when Edinburgh was a hive of distilleries and breweries. The Holyrood Distillery is house in the old railway building built circa 1830. “The Innocent Railway” Edinburgh’s first railway. This will be the first distillery to produce a single malt whisky in circa 100 years. The Holyrood Distillery has a high quality experienced team with decades of distilling behind them.
Jeanie Deans Tryst
Jeanie Deans is a fictional character in Sir Walter Scott’s novel The Heart of Midlothian. The Cottage is now gone but a plaque is on the wall near to the site of where the cottage once stood. The cottage overlooked Arthur Seat.
College Of Surgeons
Drummond Street Edinburgh
Drummond Street was outside the city wall as the wall was on the north side of the street which a large section still remains. The Gates are the original gates of Edinburgh Royal Infirmary which is now Edinburgh University Building. To the east of the building stands the Old College of Surgeons Hall built in 1697. This was where the College of Surgeons moved to after Dickson Street and before they moved to their present home in Nicolson Street. The Plaque on the Royal College of Surgeons Building reads; 1697 The Edinburgh surgeons moved from their meeting place in Dickson’s Close to this building. Here they conducted their business until they moved to the present Royal College of Surgeons in Nicolson Street in 1832. The other plaque is to honour Elsie Maud Inglis Graduate of the University.
Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh
Nicolson Street Edinburgh is where you will find The Royal College of Surgeons. The Incorporation of Surgeons and Barbers were founded in Edinburgh in 1505 and in 1722 the surgeons broke away from the barbers. The Surgeons first met in Dickson's Close Royal Mle, then moved to Drummond Street in 1697. Then in 1778 King George III granted a new charter giving the surgeons the title The Royal College of Surgeons of the City of Edinburgh. The present Royal College Building opened in 1832 and in 1851 Queen Victoria granted a charter giving its present title The Royal College of Surgeons.
Royal College of Surgeons’ Museum Edinburgh
The Surgeon’s Hall Museum collection grew from 1699. In the 1800’s the Museum had expanded to include remarkable collections donated by famous people and inventors. There are three sections to the museum and many exhibitions held throughout the year. The Royal College of Surgeons Quin-centenary 2005 Bronze Plaque at the entrance to the College and Museum and the gardens and bronze sculpture at the entrance to the Royal College of Surgeons building.
HINC SANITAS | FROM HERE HEALTH
The Sculpture is of two hands holding a scalpel.
The inscription on the plaque reads; HINC SANITAS | FROM HERE HEALTH | THIS SCULPTURE BY | MR DENYS MITCHELL | WAS UNVEILED BY | THE RIGHT HONOURABLE | NORMAN IRONS | LORD PROVOST OF EDINBURGH | ON 6 DECEMBER 1994
J.K.Rowling and Harry Potter Story Edinburgh
J.K Rowling or Joanne Rowling was born on 31st July 1965 in a town called Yate in Gloucestershire. Joanne Rowling and her daughter moved to Edinburgh in 1994. She wrote seven Harry Potter books which have been made into movies for the big screen. J.K. Rowling is still a resident in Edinburgh.
Robert Louis Stevenson Plaque
In memory of Robert Louis Stevenson 1850 – 1894, son and student of Edinburgh. “and when I remember all that I hope and feared as I pickled about Rutherford’s in the rain and the east wind; how I feared I should never have a friend far less a wife, and yet timidly hoped I might; how I hoped (if I did not take a drink) I should possibly write one little book. And then now-what a change. ! I feel somehow as if I should like the incident set upon a brass plate at the corner of the dreary thoroughfare, for all students to read, poor devils, when their hearts are down. From the south seas September 1888. Presented on behalf of all Stevenson lovers……………September 1995
George Davie Plaque
Drummond Street Edinburgh
George Davie (1912-2007) philosopher and author of ‘The Democratic Intellect’, introduced to each other HUGH MCDIARMID (1892-1978). Author of the Scots poem ‘A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle’, and SORLEY MACLEAN (1911-1996), author of the Gaelic poems ‘Ddin do Eimldr’, in what was Rutherford’s in 1984.
Royal Infirmary Edinburgh
Original Royal Infirmary Gates
The ornamental gates carved stone gateposts of the infirmary of High School Yards were saved and are now preserved at the entrance to the University Geography building in the adjacent Drummond Street. Drummond Street is also where a part of the Flodden Wall built in 1513 still stands.
ROYAL INFIRMARY EDINBURGH
On the 06 August 1729 the first voluntary hospital in Scotland opened in what is now Infirmary Street Edinburgh at the top of Robertson’s Close. This became the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh in 1736 in the same building. From old maps the building that stands behind the old gate in Drummond street was used as the Infirmary before moving to Lauriston Place and is now at Little France. The original gates can be seen in Drummond Street 70 meters up the South Bridge opposite the University of Edinburgh Old College building.
Guthrie Street Edinburgh
Guthrie Street was built to replace College Wynd and was named after Dr Thomas Guthrie the founder of the first Ragged School in 1841, which can be seen in Ramsay Lane of Castlehill Royal Mile Edinburgh. Guthrie Street is a link between Chamber Street and the Cowgate Edinburgh.
The plaque can be seen on the wall at the corner of Guthrie Street and Chamber Street is to signify the location of the house where Sir Walter Scott was born in August 1771. Walter Scott was born in College Wynd which was demolished and replaced with modern housing.
Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh
Symposium Hall was originally built in 1847 as the Roxburgh Free Church. It then was converted into St Michael's Episcopal Church in 1888 and in 1965 amalgamated with All Saints’ Church in Brougham Street Tollcross. After being empty for some years The Royal College of Surgeons acquired it. Receiving donations from two main benefactors the hall was opened as The King Khalid Bin Abdul Aziz Symposium Hall in 1982.
Lady Glenorchy Parish Church
The Lady Glenorchy Chapel opened 1774 and was at Leith Wynd which was demolished in 1845 to make way for the building of the Waverley rail station. Lady Glenorchy purchased an old Chapel in Roxburgh Place in 1856 which became the Lady Glenorchy Parish Church. The Chapel was demolished and rebuilt and opened in 1913 and became one of the most popular churches of it time in Edinburgh. It was sold in 1969 and has been used as various purposes.
La Scala Theatre
The La Scala Electric Theatre opened in 1912 for silent movies and live theatre acts. . The site had previously been used as a live theatre opening circa 1860 as the New Royal Alhambra and after a change of name closure came in 1886 as the Royal Princess Theatre. The La Scala later became a cinema changing its name in the early part of 1970’s. It finally close as cinema becoming a bingo hall and now a slot casino.
Edinburgh Festival Theatre
The Edinburgh Festival Theatre has an audience capacity of almost 2000 and stages live shows of all kinds (Pantomime, ballet, opera, musicals, vaudeville and the Edinburgh International Festival). There has been a theatre on this site since 1830 staging acts from around the world including the Circus and The Great Lafayette. It was in 1892 it first opened as the Empire Palace Theatre. The first of several Moss Empires opened around Britain by Sir Edward Moss who purchase his first site in Edinburgh of Newsome’s Circus in Nicolson Street Edinburgh in 1891. Moss owned the Gaiety Variety Theatre which was in Chambers Street Edinburgh and it was so popular he required a bigger venue which he did.
A fire in 1911 destroyed the stage area and a number of people were killed, The Great Lafayette one of the greatest illusionist of the time a comment made by Houdini himself. The Great Lafayette is buried in Edinburgh with his dog a gift from Houdini. After a major rebuild the theatre reopened in 1928 s the Empire Theatre and continues to entertain the public to this day.