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Latitude: 55.9583 / 55°57'30"N
Longitude: -3.1833 / 3°10'59"W
OS Eastings: 326219
OS Northings: 674556
OS Grid: NT262745
Mapcode National: GBR 8QC.PL
Mapcode Global: WH6SM.2HFM
Entry Name: 1-18 (Inclusive Nos) Montgomery Street Lane
Listing Date: 23 April 2004
Source: Historic Scotland
Source ID: 397380
Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB49764
Building Class: Cultural
Electoral Ward: Leith Walk
Traditional County: Midlothian
Lane plan laid out by W H Playfair 1819, construction began early 1820s. Long straight mews lane with 2-storey terraced rectangular-plan buildings to both sides; accessed through a basket-arched pend from Montgomery Street; cobbled with central gully. Predominantly squared snecked / coursed rubble with droved margins. Predominantly irregular fenestration.
NW (PRINICPAL) ELEVATION (SW SIDE OF LANE): No 1: 2-bay; out of character render to right bay; to ground floor, to left heightened and widened opening with modern metal roller-door, to right, 4-leaf timber-boarded garage doors; to 1st floor, timber-boarded window to left bay. No 2: rendered single bay; timber-boarded garage door to ground floor. No 3 and 3a: single bay; to ground floor, long opening infilled with timber-boarded wall and doors; to 1st floor, central opening with timber and glazed insert. No 3b: single bay; to ground floor, 2-leaf timber-boarded part glazed garage doors; to 1st floor, part-glazed, part boarded central opening. No 3c: part rendered single bay with timber-boarded garage doors to ground floor and timber boarded opening to 1st floor. No 4: 2-bay; to ground floor, boarded cart entrance to left, timber-boarded door with 2-light fanlight to right, to far right, small barred 2-pane window; to 1st floor, boarded-up opening to left, modern glazed window in timber frame to right. No 5: 2-bay: to ground floor, to left cart opening blocked by timber-boarding with door, metal garage roller-door in widened opeing to right; to 1st floor, 4-pane top-hopper timber window to left, single pane timber window to right. No 6: 3-bay; to ground floor, 2-leaf metal garage doors to right and left, metal door to centre; to 1st floor, 4-pane top-hopper timber window to left, timber-boarded openings to centre and right. No 7: 3-bay; to ground floor, 2-leaf timber-boarded door to left, 2-leaf timber-boarded door to centre, altered cart opening blocked by timber-boarding with door; to 1st floor, central timber-boarded opening breaking eaves. No 8: 3-bay with large area of blank wall to left; to ground floor, opening infilled with mesh to left, timber door to centre, 2-leaf metal garage doors to right; to 1st floor, single pane timber frame windows to centre and right.
SE (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATIONS (NW SIDE OF LANE): Nos 9-11: 4-bay; to ground floor, 2-leaf timber-boarded doors to 1st, 2nd and 4th bays form left; timber-boarded door to 3rd bay from left; to 1st floor, to outer left bay, opening blocked with stone to bottom and timber to top; to 3rd bay from left, timber-boarded opening. No 15: 3-bay; to ground floor, timber-boarded door to centre, barred window to left, 2-leaf timber-boarded garage door to right; to 1st floor, timber-boarded opening to centre. No 16: single bay; to ground floor, 2-leaf timber garage doors in widened opening; to 1st floor, timber boarded opening to centre. No 17: 6-bay elevation, out-of character ventilation fan and large metal flues; to ground floor, blocked windows with remaining astragals for 6 pane glazing to 1st, 4th and 6th bay from left; timber-boarded door to 2nd bay from left, 2-leaf timber-boarded garage doors to 3rd and 4th bays from left; to 1st floor; timber boarded openings to 2nd and 5th bays from left. No 18: 4-bay; to ground floor, to outer left bay, cart opening blocked by timber-boarding with 2-leaf door and small blocked window with remaining astragals for 6 pane glazing window to right, to 2nd bay from left, cart opening blocked with stone, to 3rd bay from left 2-leaf timber-boarded garage doors, to outer right bay, widened altered cart opening blocked by timber-boarding with door, with stone pier and timber boarded door to right; to 1st floor, timber boarded openings to outer left and right bays. To right of No 18, boundary wall with timber-boarded door.
Pitched roofs; predominantly graded grey slate; felt to Nos 9-11; stone skews and skewputts. Numerous rooflights, particularly to rear pitches.
Part of the Calton A-Group.
Montgomery Street Lane forms part of Playfair's Eastern New Town (or Calton) scheme, and as such is an important example of the work of one of Scotland's leading early 19th century architects. Playfair was one of the major driving forces of the Greek Revival in Edinburgh at this time, and his public commissions such as the National Monument, the Royal Institution and the National Gallery (see separate listings) gave strength to Edinburgh's reputation as the Athens as the North. The Calton Scheme was one of his few domestic commissions, and the variety of designs, different for each street, demonstrate Playfair's expertise with the Grecian style and his characteristic punctilious attention to detail.
Montogmery Street Lane is a good, complete example of a mews lane. It is unlikely that Playfair would have been involved with designing the mews buildings themselves, but he did design the layout of the mews in relation to the surrounding blocks of buildings which the mews services; Elm Row, Leopold Place, Windsor Street and Montgomery Street. Although some of the openings have been altered, including the insertion of some concrete and metal lintels, and some glazing and doors have been replaced, the front elevations of the mews buildings still clearly show the original arrangement of carriage house and stables to ground floor, with hayloft and in some cases groom's accomodation above.
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 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 1880s, some of Playfair's original street lines were adhered to, as was the case with Hillside Crescent, and in others such as 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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