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555 Castlehill, Former Reservoir, with Retaining Wall, Steps, Railings and Balustrade to N and Drinking Fountain on W Wall

A Category B Listed Building in Edinburgh, Edinburgh

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.9491 / 55°56'56"N

Longitude: -3.1962 / 3°11'46"W

OS Eastings: 325395

OS Northings: 673541

OS Grid: NT253735

Mapcode National: GBR 8NG.2X

Mapcode Global: WH6SL.WQ5Q

Entry Name: 555 Castlehill, Former Reservoir, with Retaining Wall, Steps, Railings and Balustrade to N and Drinking Fountain on W Wall

Listing Date: 13 August 1987

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 365334

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB27962

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Edinburgh

County: Edinburgh

Town: Edinburgh

Electoral Ward: City Centre

Traditional County: Midlothian

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Description

Rendel and Beardmore, 1849-50. Single storey and basement rectangular-plan former reservoir, 9 bays to Castlehill, 7 to Ramsay Lane; 3-stage Italianate tower with balustraded parapet at centre of N (Ramsay Garden) elevation. Lightly stugged ashlar with polished dressings. Channelled basement to N and E. Swept corniced and blocking course. Long and short quoins to corner blocks and tower. Windows in tabbed surrounds.

S (CASTLEHILL) ELEVATION: slightly advanced bay to left with 2-leaf timber door in pedimented moulded surround.

E (RAMSAY LANE) ELEVATION: modern vehicular entrance to right.

N (RAMSAY GARDEN) ELEVATION: 3-stage tower to centre: string courses between stages; long and short quoins; round-arched windows to 3rd stage.

INTERIOR: lit by rectangular glazed cupola. Timber beams and trusses of roof supported by cast-iron columns.

RETAINING WALL, BALUSTRADE, STEPS AND RAILINGS: curved ashlar-coped sandstone retaining wall with ashlar steps, decorative wrought-iron railings and balustrade with terracotta balusters (see Notes).

DRINKING FOUNTAIN: bronze relief and plaque to outer right of W wall.

Statement of Interest

Built on the site of a smaller reservoir, of circa 1755, itself built on the site of an earlier chapel (shown on Gordon of Rothiemay's plan of 1647). Part of Edinburgh's early and extensive water supply, an Act concerning which was passed in 1621. The 1st main was brought from Comiston Springs by Peter Brauss, engineer, in 1681. Property disputes delayed switch-on until 1720, when water was piped to several cisterns designed by Sir William Bruce. In the 1820's Edinburgh Joint Stock Water Company began to pipe water direct to houses. According to Grant, 2 million gallons of water could be distributed form the reservoir at the rate of 5,000 gallons per minute. The deep basement area of the former reservoir is now used as shop/exhibition area. Alterations including the wrought-iron railings and balustrade appear to have been made to the retaining wall to N at the time of the building of Ramsay Garden (1892-3) probably by Sydney Mitchell. Drinking fountain on the W wall of the building is near the site where condemned witches were burned. Bronze relief by John Duncan shows evil head facing to left, serene to right, with foxgloves and entwined serpent.

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