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Latitude: 55.9308 / 55°55'50"N
Longitude: -3.1313 / 3°7'52"W
OS Eastings: 329415
OS Northings: 671436
OS Grid: NT294714
Mapcode National: GBR 2B.ZBH5
Mapcode Global: WH6ST.W626
Plus Code: 9C7RWVJ9+8F
Entry Name: 23 West Court, Thistle Foundation, Niddrie Mains Road, Edinburgh
Listing Name: Niddrie Mains Road, Thistle Foundation, 1-11 (Inclusive Nos), 14-18 (Inclusive Nos) Queen's Walk, 1-19 Chapel Court and 1-23 (Inclusive Nos) West Court and Covered Walkways
Listing Date: 14 June 2002
Source: Historic Scotland
Source ID: 396114
Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB48687
Building Class: Cultural
Electoral Ward: Portobello/Craigmillar
Traditional County: Midlothian
Stuart Matthew of Lorimer & Matthew, won in competition, 1945, erected from 1946, officially opened 1950, with later additions and alterations. Northern section and western court of 'Scotch' style village built for disabled ex-servicemen and their families. Comprised of terraces of patio-plan houses, 2-bay, single storey and single storey and attic, and single and 2-storey special housing with 4 single storey and attic 2-bay houses. Harled, with slate or pantiled roofs, latter with red tile eaves easing courses. Slatted timber aprons to projecting triangular windows, most with glazed door on short return, some replaced with projecting rectangular windows. Strategic gables adorned with Foundation's heraldic shield and latin inscription.
Each house with entrance door flanked by carved sandstone panel detailing donor.
1-11 QUEEN'S WALK: pantiled terrace of single storey and single storey and attic houses lining entrance avenue. Garden elevations to S, each house with projecting triangular timber windows in bay to right (living room), large square window to left bay (bedroom); 2-windowed flat-roofed, timber wallhead dormers at centre above, with dividing slatted panels. Blank end gable to W. Rear entrances in blank single storey elevations with doors to centre, flanking walls screening kitchens to left and private yard and store to right; 2-windowed flat-roofed timber attic dormers to centre.
14-18 QUEEN'S WALK: pantiled single and 2-storey houses, with entrances in single storey kitchen and yard elevation to N, detailed as above, and with 1st floor bedrooms lit by square windows, and with additional small WC window
between in each house. Garden elevations closing WEST COURT to N, each house with projecting window to right (no doors) and square window to left at ground, and with 2 square windows at 1st floor.
1-19 CHAPEL COURT: to E end of Queen's Walk. 3 pantiled ranges of single and single storey and attic houses, grouped in Nos 1-6, 7-14, and 15-19, around bowling green with chapel and garden to W. Detailed as 1-11 Queen's Walk, with Nos 1-14 with garden fronts to bowling green, and Nos 15-19 with entrance front to bowling green and gardens to S.
1-4 WEST COURT: pantiled single and 2-storey free-standing houses in splayed group closing West Court to W and linked by curving covered walkway. Entrances to NW, detailed as above terraces. Garden elevations to court, each as for terraced houses above but with projecting triangular windows replaced with projecting rectangular windows.
5-13 WEST COURT: 2 pantiled ranges of single and single storey and attic terraced houses grouped Nos 5-10 and 11-13, enclosing West Court to SW. Detailed as above terraces, with entrances to NE, garden elevations to SW with rectangular projecting windows.
14-23 WEST COURT: curved terrace of stepped slate-roofed houses enclosing West Court to SE. Details as above terraces with entrances to NE and rear elevation to SW with rectangular projecting windows and close to road access.
Timber fixed-pane windows and casement windows with top-hoppers, together with stained timber replacements and Mutual and end gable coped stacks. Window boxes on projecting windows carefully fixed at wheelchair height.
INTERIORS: wide doorways, 2-leaf doors to bathrooms, folding doors between bed and living rooms. Parquet flooring. Generous fenestration creating airy interiors.
COVERED WALKWAYS: near continuous covered timber walkway running around entrance elevations of houses and stepping with the ground, with solid dado, open above, occasionally with timber railings. Breaks in dadoes at intervals, aligned with pathways and junctions.
The houses are linked in an A-Group with the Robin Chapel, Entrance Gates and Gatepiers which are listed separately. The estate was conceived in 1944 by Sir Francis Tudsbery, as a village for disabled ex-servicemen to enable them to live in the comfort of their own homes with their families, and with the ability to received regular and skilled medical treatment on site rather than venturing to, or residing in, a hospital. Prominent figures such
as Sir Stafford Cripps, Sir John Stirling Maxwell and Lord Linlithgow were party to the origin and erection of the estate. The first sod was cut by the wife of the founder on 22 June 1946. Originally intended for 140 houses, but rising costs saw the scheme stop at 100 houses in 1950, with ?600,000 expended to this date on the building operations and equipment (houses and clinic), from subscription and accrued interest. Subscriptions came primarily from regimental bodies and led to the award of a plaque on each individual house (see description): these give the village the added value equivalent to that of war memorial status.
The term 'Scotch' or 'Scotchie' was used by Lorimer and Matthew for the traditional style which they nurtured in their commissions. The houses are of special interest for their avant-garde from as built before 1950, pre-dating but embodying many of the principles of later Government advice, and in being unique in scale and provision in the United Kingdom. Matthew, who was experienced with planning for such mass housing after work in Norwich with James, Pierce and Bywaters, took a study tour to other sites where there was provision for disabled persons prior to designing the details for the estate, such as the Astley Ainslie, and Stoke Mandeville Hospitals. The Patio plan followed a formal footprint common in housing designs in post-War Germany. The wide doorways, socket position above the ground at the Thistle Foundation, folding doors between bed and living rooms, 2-leaf bathroom doors, appropriately sited window boxes, are all indicators of the quality and sensitivity of the design for special needs. The metal surrounds to the doorways served to protect them from wheelchair wear and tear. The parquet flooring provides material distinction and is unusual in properties on such a small scale. The houses are 'Tardis' like, with generous circulation and living space. The attic and 1st floor areas provide accommodation for family, carers and visitors, and ample built-in storage. The design was commended in 1945 for avoiding any 'institutional' character. The remainder of the site, other than described is occupied by the similarly detailed, residential East and Almond Courts to the S and E, together with the institutional and community buildings. The latter include: the Clinic which is now (2002) known as the Tudsbery Centre and was extensively refurbished in 1998; the Resource Centre in the West Court has also been known as the Craft Block; and the Hopetoun Hall, off the East Court, the community recreational space. Wighton House to the SE, was added in 1969, with near contemporary additional single storey houses.
Other nearby listed buildings