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1 Gilmerton Road, Liberton Bank House

A Category C Listed Building in Edinburgh, Edinburgh

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.9254 / 55°55'31"N

Longitude: -3.1665 / 3°9'59"W

OS Eastings: 327206

OS Northings: 670876

OS Grid: NT272708

Mapcode National: GBR 8VR.2D

Mapcode Global: WH6ST.BBDB

Entry Name: 1 Gilmerton Road, Liberton Bank House

Listing Date: 24 May 2000

Category: C

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 394544

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB47155

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Edinburgh

County: Edinburgh

Electoral Ward: Southside/Newington

Traditional County: Midlothian

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Description

Late 18th century with later alterations and additions. Single storey with attic, 3-bay rectangular-plan traditional house. Sandstone and red sandstone rubble with droved sandstone dressings; quoins and long and short surrounds; coped skews; modern box dormers.

E (FRONT) ELEVATION: symmetrical; infilled doorway to centre at ground; evidence of gabled entrance porch addition visible, including low rendered brick wall in front of doorway; bipartite windows with block cills to flanking bays. Box dormers to all bays at roof, with slate aprons to central one.

N (SIDE) ELEVATION: 3-bay; corrugated-iron roof to lean-to porch at ground; single window to centre, with block cill; infilled doorways with wooden lintels to bays flanking; pair of windows to 1st floor above.

S (SIDE) ELEVATION: 2-bay; widely spaced infilled doorways at ground; closely spaced windows with block cills to 1st floor.

W (REAR) ELEVATION: irregularly fenestrated; box dormer to roof at left; coped rubble wall adjoining at right.

Window openings and doorways blocked, dormers boarded; grey slate roof with leaded ridge; coped gablehead stacks with moulded cylindrical cans; cast-iron gutters, downpipes missing.

INTERIOR: Probably original fielded 6-panelled doors; later 19th century fireplaces to bedrooms; remains of decorative painted scheme and canvas floorcloth surrounds to NE and S bedrooms; remains of hand - printed wallpaper and decorative schemes, particularly to hall, stairs and landing, probably mid to later 19th century; original floorboards; hand-tooled rafters and broad sarking boards to roof; alterations include insertion of box-dormers, new staircase, re - plastering and replacement / new cornices to several rooms.

Statement of Interest

18th century house, inhabited until the early 1990s. Liberton Bank House is of special historic interest owing to its association with two important Scots, Arthur Conan Doyle and Mary Burton.

Conan Doyle stayed at Liberton Bank House for a time in the mid-late 1860s, having been sent there - according to Owen Dudley Edwards, author of the standard Conan Doyle biography - to protect him from the negative influences of his alcoholic father and, no doubt, to facilitate his attendance at the nearby Newington Academy at 8 Arniston Place. He spent the years between the ages of seven and nine, 1866 and 1868, at this school, run by James M'Lauchlan, and the Evening Dispatch of 28 September 1900 refers to his 'lively recollections' of its headmaster.

Concrete evidence of Conan Doyle's stay exists in the form of a book, Travels in the Interior of Africa by Mungo Park, inscribed: 'Arthur Conan Doyle / With Papa's and Mama's / love and best wishes / New Year's day 1866 / Liberton Bank'. This is further substantiated by reference, made by the author's youngest son, Adrian (then custodian of the Conan Doyle MSS, which are now, and have been for several decades, inaccessible), in The True Conan Doyle (1946), to his father's boyhood in the 'modest domicile of Liberton Bank'.

At Liberton Bank he was in the care of Mary Burton, tenant of the house for more than fifty years, from 1844-1898. Mary Burton was a trailblazing educational and social reformer, the first woman Governor of Heriot-Watt College and a leading advocate of women's suffrage. Her efforts in the field of educational equality and access led her to bequeath, with foresight, a sum towards the campaign "for the admission of women to sit as members of parliament", either at Westminster or in a Scottish Parliament. She was sister of the lawyer and historian, John Hill Burton, with whose son, William K Burton, Conan Doyle became great friends whilst living in the Bank House. This friendship had significance for several of the writer's stories, mostly by virtue of Burton's subsequent career as an engineer: in this capacity he was in a position to provide background information for 'The Engineer's Thumb', and his tenure of an academic post in that subject in Japan offered a convenient source on which Conan Doyle could draw when composing 'Jelland's Voyage'. His debt to his old friend is most openly acknowledged in the dedication to 'The Firm of Girdlestone'.

Mary Burton's strong attachment to Liberton Bank House was - clearly evinced in the interview in The Young Woman magazine. Burton's direct association with the property together with the association of Conan Doyle at a time when he was writing his first story (about a man and a tiger), together, give the house its unique status.

The category of listing recognises the modest architectural interest and altered state of the house in conjunction with its association with two of Edinburgh's most famous offspring.

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