top of page

George IV Bridge Area

Forrest Road & Bristo Place

The bridge that spanned the Cowgate was to be named after George IV.

The bridge was completed in 1832 as part of the Improvement Act of 1827.

George IV Bridge was built to connect the South Side district of Edinburgh to the New Town.

The foundation stone was laid in August 1827 and the bridge finally opened to all in 1836.

There are only two points visible showing the height of George IV Bridge over the Cowgate and at Merchant Street.

It starts at the Royal Mile Lawnmarket and continues to Bristo Place and Forrest Road. Also Chamber Street where the National Museum of Scotland is and on the Bridge stands the National Library of Scotland.

George IV Bridge



George IV Bridge was built to give access to Edinburgh’s southside and spans the gap that joins the Lawnmarket on the Royal Mile with Chamber Street in the south. The foundation stone was laid in August 1827 and the bridge finally opened to all in 1836. There are only two points visible showing the height of George IV Bridge over the Cowgate and at Merchant Street. The Bridge was named after King George the IV after his visit to Edinburgh in 1822. The visible bridge over Merchant Street and a view of Greyfriars Graveyard view down Cowgate towards Holyrood Palace and Arthur Seat

George IV Bridge Cowgate
George IV Bride over Merchant Street Edinburgh


George IV Bridge Edinburgh

Melbourne Place was demolished in 1966 to enable the council to build an office block for their own use. The halls were first opened in 1852 however the the Royal Medical Society was founded in 1737 and gained the royal charter in 1778. This Plaque marks the site of the Hall of the Royal Medical Society from 1852 - 1965 where many Edinburgh medical men delivered their first dissertation. It was demolished by the city council to enable them to build an office block which has been changed into a hotel.

Plaque showing where Melbourne Place once was Edinburgh



The statue above the door shows in the centre Caledonia and to the left and right are the ploughboy and Highland reaper with his scythe. The scene below Caledonia is of a shepherd with a sheep at his feet a cow and horse standing on either side and a dog sitting.

The inscription below:



The museum is no longer here it is now at

Museum of Rural Life

East Kilbride

The museum is located on a real working farm outside Ingliston, between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

This museum has the expected cows and other farm animals. Find out about farming in the past and present.

The farmhouse was built circa 1784, with upgrades being circa 1900. All other modernisation took place prior to 1950.

So the interior is all how people once lived. In addition to the setting and guided tours there are tractor rides, milking cows, collecting eggs from the chicken coup. Find out how everything was done prior to modern machinery, ploughing the fields harvesting and hay stacks and animal bedding. This museum of Rural Life can be visited at all times of year as each season brings different work.


Visitors will also be able to see traditional farm equipment, such as the first combine harvester that was built by the Europeans, namely the Clayton Combine. The industrial revolution is also highlighted by the Museum of Rural Life, and shows the changes and improvements that were made by modernization. The Museum of Rural Life has a large and impressive collection of equipment and appliances from different ages.


Central Library George IV Bridge Edinburgh

Central Library was opened in 1890 and was the first public library building in Edinburgh. The Central Library

was funded by Andrew Carnegie. However the first recording of a library in Edinburgh was in 1696 in High School Yardswith 120 books and a further donation of 200 books by T Kincaid in 1709.

Central Libray Edinburgh
Central Library George IV Bridge Edinburgh First Library in Scotland

National Library of Scotland George IV Bridge Edinburgh

The National Library of Scotland building was completed in 1956. The Library was given the legal right under the 1710 Copyright Act to claim a copy of every book published in Britain. Due to the volume of books and manuscripts a second building opened in Causewayside in 1995. The National Library of Scotland is one of the largest of Europe's research libraries with almost 20 million printed items in the collection. If you wish to find out about almost anything you will find it in there.

National Library
National Library of Scotland George VI Bridge Edinburgh

 The Elephant House (Harry Potter)

J K Rowling is most famous as the creator of the Harry Potter stories. She wrote the first part of Harry Potter in the Elephant House Café on George IV Bridge, Edinburgh. George Heriot’s School in Lauriston Place is said to be the famous Hogwarts College of Magic portrayed in the Harry Potter movies and the platform in the Waverley Station is where the Train left for Hogwarts.

elephant House
The Elephant House George IV Bridge Edinburgh

The inscription on the plaque reads;

Made famous as the place of inspiration to writers such as J.K. Rowling who sat writing much of her early novels in the back room overlooking Edinburgh Castle. Ian Rankin author of Rebus novels and Alexander McCall- Smith have both also frequented The Elephant House as well as many other writers. 

Plaque @ Elepant House where JK Rowling wrote about Harry Potter


DIED 14th January 1872

age 16 years



More on Greyfriars Bobby can be seen on Candlemaker's Row

Grayfriars Bobby
Statue of Greyfriars Bobby Edinburgh

Forrest Road Edinburgh

The City Improvement Act brought in by Lord Provost Chambers in 1867 saw the buildings in Forrest Road, Teviot Place and Bristo PLace being replaced (the old poor houses, the building once used as the Maidens Hospital and then

Darien House and the Lunatic Asylum were all demolished. The Asylum being replaced years earlier) in the triangle with modern tenements. Forrest road being a new thoroughfare to link the new George IV Bridge with the meadows.

Head of Triangle Forrest Road and Bristo
Forrest Road Edinburgh

New North Road Church


The building on the corner named Bedlam was knocked down in 1845 a year after the patients of the asylum were transferred to the new Edinburgh Lunatic Asylum in Morningside.

The Edinburgh Lunatic Asylum was founded by Doctor Andrew Duncan in 1809 and opened in 1813.

Previously a poor house had stood, Robert Fergusson who was a patient, known to have suffered from depression after a serious head injury caused by a fall led to the famous poet being diagnosed mentally unsound, the 24 year old died of his head injury this was 1774.  In 1847 a new church was built on the Bedlam area

(New North Road Church). It closed in 1937, and gifted to the University of Edinburgh. The students started Theatre Company in the 70's (the oldest student run theatre company in Britain) now occupy the building. 

The Bedlam Theatre is named after the area where it stands today.

Bedlam Church Theatre Forrest Road Edinburgh

Oddfellows Hall 

Forrest Road Edinburgh

The Odd fellows Hall was opened in 1873, Oddfellows Hall on Forrest Road was the central gathering point for the local members of the Oddfellows Order. The odd fellows was a friendly society which is still in existence thought to have started circa mid-1700.  The Oddfellows Hall was the first meeting place for the order in Edinburgh.

 female figure with a child in her arms, representing Charity, is at the top of the central gable

 relief of three female figures representing Faith, Hope and Charity is in a shaped panel between second floor windows

Three Shields represent the coat of arms with an all seeing eye in clouds above the shields. At each side of the shields are a seated horse in collar and chains.At the hooves of each horse is a gargoyle's head. 


The inscriptions read; 


Central Shield Coat of Arms Inscription;

'Amicitia Amor Et Veritas' 

 ('Friendship Love and Truth')

The Oddfellows sold the hall in 1953.

Oddfellows Hall PlaqueForrest Road Edinb
Oddfellows Hall PlaqueForrest Road Edinb

Workhouse and Drill Hall

The Drill Hall stands on the site of  a Charity Workhouse dating from 1743. The Drill hall was built in 1872 and is one of limited number that have survived. The Drill hall was improved when it was to be used as a HQ in 1905.

The inscription above the door reads:

 'The Queen's Rifle Volunteer Brigade The Royal Scots' Headquarters.'

That in the article above reads 'Regiment raised 1859 Headquarters rebuilt and opened 6th of May 1905 by HRH the Duke of Connaught K.T., Colonel Sir Robert Cranston V.D., Colonel Commandant of Brigade. Lord Provost of the City.' The drill hall was the headquarters of both the 4th and 5th battalions, the Royal Scots, and the base for "A" to "H" Companies of both battalions.

The Rifle Volunteer Corps and Artillery Corps on 12th May 1859 to defend coastal towns was formed

and used this Drill Hall.

'The Queen's Rifle Volunteer Brigade The Royal Scots' Headquarters.'
'The Queen's Rifle Volunteer Brigade The Royal Scots' Headquarters.'
Plaque 'The Queen's Rifle Volunteer Brigade The Royal Scots' Headquarters.'

Flodden Wall Plaque 

The Flodden Wall was built to protect the city from invading armies after the battle of Flodden when the English delt out a heavy defeat to the Scots. This plaque was placed near to the Bristo Port (Gate) entrance to Edinburgh from the south west a few hundred yards west of the Potterrow Port.  

Flodden Wall Plaque Bristo Port Forrest

Bristo Place Edinburgh

Bristo Place previously Bristo Street which was to link Potterrow one of the main thoroughfares. These two roads gave access to Edinburgh from the south, before the Southbridge and Forrest Road had been built.

Bristo Street is where the Darien House was sited and the Edinburgh Asylum in an area triangle called Bedlam.

The asylum closed in 1841 (one of the patients was Robert Fergusson the poet).

Bristo Place Edinburgh

Darien House Edinburgh

Darien House was the headquarters of the Darien Scheme 1698. Later it became Darien House Hospital that looked after mentally ill patients. It stood in the area known as Bedlam on the corner of Teviot Place and Bristo Street

(now Bristo Place). Bedlam area was situated in the triangle of Bristo Place, Teviot Place and Forrest Road with three main buildings, the poor house for children and the poor house for adults and the Maiden Hospital. 

Darien House Wall Tablet Bristo Place Ed
bottom of page