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Latitude: 55.9584 / 55°57'30"N
Longitude: -3.1862 / 3°11'10"W
OS Eastings: 326036
OS Northings: 674562
OS Grid: NT260745
Mapcode National: GBR 8QC.3L
Mapcode Global: WH6SM.1H1L
Entry Name: 21 Union Street Including Boundary Wall and Railings
Listing Date: 16 June 1966
Source: Historic Scotland
Source ID: 396720
Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB49155
Building Class: Cultural
Electoral Ward: City Centre
Traditional County: Midlothian
1806. Probably designed by Hugh Cairncross (see Notes); built by John Aitchison.Classical tenement block; 3-storey attic and basement, 5-bay symmetrical elevation to Union Street. Smooth V-jointed rustication to ground floor, droved ashlar to upper floors (droved ashlar to basement; random rubble with dressed margins to rear). Dividing band between basement and ground floor and between ground and 1st floor; mutuled eaves cornice; blocking course. Regular fenestration.
SW (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: to centre bay, platt overarching basement recess leading to timber-panelled door in round-arched opening with segmental umbrella design fanlight; pilastered doorpiece with narrow 4-pane margin lights. 2 tripartite dormer windows to roof.
NE (REAR) ELEVATION: 3-bay elevation with bowed right bay.
NW (SIDE)ELEVATION: 4-bay elevation. Droved ashlar. Blind windows to inner right bay.
RAILINGS: to edge of basement recess and platt, stone copes (edging basement only) surmounted by spear-head finialled cast iron railings.
BOUNDARY WALL: to rear, random rubble wall with flat concrete coping.
GLAZING etc: predominantly 12-pane glazing in timber sash and case windows (4-pane glazing to outer lights of tripartite dormers). Dormers have timber fascia and grey slate haffits and piend roofs. Pitched roof; graded grey slates; stone skews. 1 corniced, droved gablehead stack to NW gable; 1 corniced ashlar ridge stack to right; 1 corniced rubble wallhead stack with droved dressings to rear; circular cans to all stacks.
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 Cairncross, formerly a pupil or assistant of Robert Adam, for whom he was clerk of works at several prestigious projects, Culzean Castle and Old College, Edinburgh College. 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.
21 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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