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40-44 Montgomery Street and 42 Brunswick Street

A Category C Listed Building in Edinburgh, Edinburgh

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.9591 / 55°57'32"N

Longitude: -3.1805 / 3°10'49"W

OS Eastings: 326397

OS Northings: 674641

OS Grid: NT263746

Mapcode National: GBR 8RC.89

Mapcode Global: WH6SM.3HR0

Entry Name: 40-44 Montgomery Street and 42 Brunswick Street

Listing Date: 23 April 2004

Category: C

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 397369

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB49762

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Edinburgh

County: Edinburgh

Town: Edinburgh

Electoral Ward: Leith Walk

Traditional County: Midlothian

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Description

Possibly designed by John Chesser, 1880s; built between 1896 and 1909. Classical, near-symmetrical, 4-storey, corner tenement block with splayed corner and distinctive Doric doorpiece and balcony to Brunswick Street. Polished ashlar; squared coursed rubble with dressed margins to rear. Base course; cill course to 2nd floor; main cornice (dentilled to Brunswick Street and corner elevations) dividing 2nd and 3rd floors; eaves cornice and blocking course. Regular fenestration; sunken panelled aprons to ground floor windows to Brunswick Street and corner elevation; architraved windows to Brunswick Street elevation and corner.

E (BRUNSWICK STREET) ELEVATION: 4-bay (5 bays to ground floor) elevation. Dividing bands between ground and 1st floors; 1st floor cill cornice. To ground floor, to centre bay, timber-panelled door with letterbox fanlight; doorpiece of attached fluted Greek Doric columns supporting entablature; above, wrought iron trellis pattern balcony with Greek key border. Bipartite windows to all floors to 1st, 3rd and 4th bays from left.

NE (CORNER) ELEVATION: single bay elevation. Dividing bands between ground and 1st floors; 1st floor cill cornice. Bipartite windows.

N (MONTGOMERY STREET) ELEVATION: 5-bay (6-bay to ground floor) elevation. To ground floor, 4th bay from left, timber-panelled door with letterbox fanlight. 1st floor cill course. Bipartite windows to all floors to outer right bay.

GLAZING etc: predominantly plate glass in timber sash and case windows. Platform roof; grey slate; stone skews and skewputts. To E elevation, 2 ridge stacks to left, 1 wallhead stack; to N elevation, 1 wallhead stack, 1 mutual ridge stack to right; stacks corniced ashlar with circular cans.

Statement of Interest

The block comprising 44 Montgomery Street and 42 Brunswick Street occupies a site which was originally intended to have formed part of W HPlayfair's Eastern New Town (see below). This means that the block comprising 44 Montgomery Street and 42 Brunswick Street is important due to its continuation of the street plan and elements of the Grecian style which are characteristic of Playfair's original scheme. The Greek Doric doorpiece and the trellis and Greek key balcony are elements found in Playfair's designs for other streets in the Calton Scheme e.g. Hillside Crescent. This block may have been designed by John Chesser who was involved, during the 1880s, with the completion of several of the streets which Playfair planned. Chesser reworked and simplified some of Playfair's designs for the streets that had already been partly built, and designed the remainder of the streets in a more contemporary style. Although this block was built several years later than the other buildings in the scheme which Chesser designed, it is possible that they were built using plans drawn up by Chesser.

The origins of the Eastern New Town, which was to occupy the east end of Calton Hill and lands to the north of it on the ground between Easter Road and Leith Walk, lie in a 'joint plan for building' which three principal feuars (Heriot's Hospital, Trinity Hospital and Mr Allan of Hillside) entered into in 1811. In 1812 a competition was advertised for plans for laying out the grounds in question. Thirty-two plans were received, displayed and reported on by a variety of people, including eight architects. Eventually, it was decided that none of the plans was suitable. However, it was a more general report by William Stark (who died shortly after submitting it) which caught the attention of the Commissioners and formed the basis of the final scheme. Stark's central argument stressed the importance of planning around the natural contours and features of the land rather than imposing formal, symmetrical street plans upon it. After several years of little or no progress, in 1818 the Commissioners finally selected William Henry Playfair, Stark's former pupil, to plan a scheme following his master's Picturesque ideals.

The resulting scheme, presented to the Commissioners in 1819, preserved the view of and from Calton Hill by the creation of a limited, triangular development of three single-sided terraces on the hill itself. These looked over a huge radial street pattern, centred on the gardens of Hillside Crescent, on the land to the north. The feuing of these lower lands started well, with Elm Row, Leopold Place, Windsor Street and the west side of Hillside Crescent being built fairly swiftly. However, demand for the feus faltered severely, due to the growing popularity of new properties being built to the west of the New Town. The fate of the Calton scheme was sealed in 1838, when it was decided that feuars should pay poor-rates to both Edinburgh and Leith. This virtually halted development for the next thirty years. The result of all these problems was that very little of Playfair's original scheme was ever built. When building resumed in the late 1880s, some of Playfair's original street lines were adhered to, as was the case with the western corner of Montgomery Street and Windsor Street and in others such as Hillside Crescent, Brunton Place, Brunswick Street, Hillside Street (originally to be a longer street called Hopeton Street), and Wellington Street (also curtailed). However, due to piecemeal residential, industrial and transport developments immediately to the north, it would have been impossible to further follow Playfair's original layout, even if this had been considered desirable.

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