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Latitude: 55.9579 / 55°57'28"N
Longitude: -3.1855 / 3°11'7"W
OS Eastings: 326078
OS Northings: 674505
OS Grid: NT260745
Mapcode National: GBR 8QC.7R
Mapcode Global: WH6SM.1HCZ
Plus Code: 9C7RXR57+4Q
Entry Name: 5, 5A Union Street, Edinburgh
Listing Name: 5 and 5a Union Street Including Railings and Boundary Wall
Listing Date: 16 June 1966
Source: Historic Scotland
Source ID: 370392
Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB29862
Building Class: Cultural
Electoral Ward: City Centre
Traditional County: Midlothian
Classical tenement block, 4-storey and basement, 5-bay symmetrical elevation to Union Street. Smooth V-jointed rustication to ground floor, droved ashlar to upper floors (painted polished ashlar to basement; squared snecked rubble with droved margins to rear). Dividing band between basement and ground floor; dividing band between ground and 1st floors; cill course to 1st floor; main cornice dividing 2nd and 3rd floors; continuous cast iron balconnette to 3rd floor; mutuled eaves cornice; blocking course. Regular fenestration.
SW (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: to centre bay, steps and platt overarching basement recess leading to timber-panelled door with batwing design letterbox fanlight. Steps to left and right of entrance platt leading down to basement; basement window at outer right altered to form doorway with modern 2-leaf glazed timber door.
NE (REAR) ELEVATION: 4-bay elevation; canted section to left. Single dormer to roof.
RAILINGS: to edge of basement recess and steps and platt, stone copes (edging basement only) surmounted by spear-head finialled cast iron railings.
BOUNDARY WALL: to rear, random rubble wall with flat stone coping.
GLAZING etc: predominantly 12-pane glazing in timber sash and case windows (modern glazing to basement window to right of platt). Dormer has timber fascia and grey slate haffits and piend roof. Pitched roof; graded grey slates; stone skews. Corniced squared rubble gablehead stack to left and mutual ridge stack to right, both with droved ashlar dressings and circular cans.
This classically detailed tenement block is a good example of early 19th century high quality tenement design in Edinburgh. It also has streetscape and historical value as an element of the Gayfield estate development. It may also have significance as one of the few extant buildings designed by Hugh Cairncross, formerly a pupil or assistant of Robert Adam, for whom he was clerk of works at several prestigious projects, including Culzean Castle and Old College, Edinburgh University. Cairncross is not specifically mentioned in contemporary documents in connection with Union Street. However, there is a very strong similarity of design between the tenements on the north side of Union Street and the tenements on the NE side of Gayfield Square, which were designed for Jollie by Cairncross in 1807.
John Aitchison was responsible for the development of all the early 19th century tenements on the north side of Union Street (see separate List descriptions). However, 1-3 Union Street and 1-6 Antigua Street (see separate List description), adjoining this building, was built by Thomas Bonnar. The design of 5 Union Street is consistent with that of the terminating 5 bays of Bonnar's Antigua Street elevation, and it is highly possible that the two developers collaborated to produce a coherent design scheme for both feus. Their almost simultaneous applications to the Dean of Guild support this.
5 Union Street forms part of the Gayfield Estate, so called because it stands on the former grounds of Gayfield House (East London Street; 1763-5, still extant; separately listed Category A). These lands were feued by the solicitor James Jollie from 1785. Building began on either side of the drive to the house; the building line on the SW of Gayfield Square follows the line of the drive. These developments began to establish the form of Gayfield Square, which forms the heart of the estate. The gardens at the core of the square were preserved from development as early as the 1790s; Sasines record that '..the area of Gayfield Place [is] to remain an open space for all time coming.' Union Street is on the boundary of these lands, the north side being Gayfield land, and the south side of the street built on land at the edge of the adjoining Picardy estate.
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