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Former band block, Redford infantry barracks, Colinton Road, Edinburgh

A Category C Listed Building in Glenrothes West and Kinglassie, Edinburgh

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Latitude: 55.91 / 55°54'35"N

Longitude: -3.2451 / 3°14'42"W

OS Eastings: 322262

OS Northings: 669240

OS Grid: NT222692

Mapcode National: GBR 8BX.5X

Mapcode Global: WH6SS.3QZ6

Plus Code: 9C7RWQ53+XX

Entry Name: Former band block, Redford infantry barracks, Colinton Road, Edinburgh

Listing Name: Former Band Block, Redford Infantry Barracks, Colinton Road, Edinburgh

Listing Date: 26 June 2017

Category: C

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 406688

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB52433

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Edinburgh

County: Edinburgh

Town: Edinburgh

Electoral Ward: Colinton/Fairmilehead

Traditional County: Fife

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A 2-storey, 23-bay, rectangular-plan, symmetrical former band block with central advanced gabled bays to the northwest and southeast elevations, designed by Harry B Measures and built between 1909 and 1915. The building is of dark, coursed rock-faced rubble with pale ashlar dressings. There are cill courses, a band course and eaves course. The windows have projecting cills. There is regular fenestration, and the northwest elevation has round-arched entrance doorways flanking the central gable. There is a tripartite Diocletian window at the 1st floor level of the gables.

The windows are predominantly timber sash and case windows with small pane glazing in the upper sashes and 2-pane glazing in the lower sashes. There are grey graded slates and raised skews to the roof.

The interior was seen in 2016. There is a double-height space to the centre of the building with corridors and rooms leading off to either side. There are several stone, dog-leg staircases with cast iron railings to the upper floors.

Statement of Interest

The former band block at Redford infantry barracks is one of the key buildings in a complex of infantry and cavalry buildings which make up the extensive Redford barracks. The building is one of only a small number of purpose-built band blocks built in Scotland. The Redford barracks complex as a whole was the pinnacle of military building prior to the First World War. The building is little altered externally from its early 20th century appearance and its survival gives an important and rare insight to the way the military was organized at the beginning of the 20th century.

Age and Rarity

The personnel involved in the military bands for regiments had their own accommodation, separate from the other ranks. There are two band blocks at Redford as the infantry and cavalry regiments had their own, separate bands. Music was an important part of military life in the barracks as sounds from a bugle or drum would signal the various activities during the day, including getting up and mealtimes. The only other known listed band block in Scotland dates to 1937-42 and is at Dreghorn Barracks in Edinburgh (listed at category C, LB49566).

Redford infantry barracks was built to alleviate cramped military accommodation at Edinburgh Castle. As the cavalry troops based in Edinburgh were also housed in poor conditions at Piershill, the decision was taken by the Government to build a new substantial complex incorporating barracks for both infantry and cavalry and including all the necessary associated buildings on the same site at Redford. Although on the same extensive site, the cavalry barracks (located to the east) and infantry barracks (located to the west) were administered separately. Redford barracks was the largest barracks to be built in Scotland since Fort George in Inverness (1748-1769, Scheduled Monument SM6692). The Redford barracks was the most advanced of its type in Britain at the time and the best equipped, incorporating all the latest developments in training and accommodation. They reflect the military confidence of Britain before the start of the First World War. The complex was the first to include living, dining, baths and recreation facilities for infantry under one roof and when built could accommodate 1000 men.

The magnitude of the building programme at Redford was so great that the builders, Colin MacAndrew Ltd, built their own railway to transport materials from the main line at Slateford. The Scotsman in 1914 noted 'there is no point at the extensive field at Redford where building operations are in progress which are not served by either the broad or narrow gauge railways'.

All of the infantry buildings lying to the west of the entire barracks site include, a large barracks block, a guard house with its associated gates and gatepiers, a Commander in Chief's house (Alva House), the Officers' mess and stables, a former Sergeants' mess, a band block, a gymnasium and a stores building. There were originally married quarters, but these were demolished in the 1990s. The cavalry barracks and all its associated buildings lie to the east of the site.

During the last quarter of the 19th century, the expanding British Empire required more personnel for its administration and its security. To help with the recruitment and training of soldiers, the Secretary of State for War, Edward Cardwell introduced the Military Localisation Bill in 1872, which introduced new recruiting and training centres around Britain. The majority of the architectural design and planning was carried out by the Director of Design, Major H C Sneddon, and a number of standard types of barracks resulted. Local variations were possible, for example at the Cameron Barracks at Inverness, listed at category B (LB35340) where Scots Baronial architectural features are used. During this period the overall planning and layout of a barracks complex changed from a strict symmetry of buildings around a parade ground to placing the various buildings in the most sensible position according to function.

Up until the beginning of the 20th century, all military fortifications, including barracks were the responsibility of the Royal Engineers. This was reviewed from 1902 and as a result, a civilian department was formed in 1904 under the direction of the Director of Barracks Construction which was responsible for War Department buildings. The new Director was Harry Measures. Measures had his own ideas about the design of barracks buildings and he instigated the bringing of various functions under the same roof which had previously had separate buildings. His first project was new cavalry barracks at Norwich, which he designed with all the ancillary and recreational functions were in the ground floor of the building with residential accommodation above. This was never built but his ideas on design were realized at Redford.

Following the First World War and over the course of the 20th century, the practice of warfare and the organisation of the military changed. Military accommodation was updated and smaller residential units became standard. Horses were replaced by machinery and Redford cavalry barracks, on the same site as the infantry barracks, was amongst the last of its type to be built on such a large scale. Only the Hyde Park barracks in London, built by Sir Basil Spence in 1970 for the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment are comparable in size and scale.

The former band block at Redford infantry barracks is among a small number of buildings of its type, forming part of a complex of infantry and cavalry buildings which make up one of the largest barracks sites ever built in Britain. The building, while largely simple in its design has some architectural features which are in keeping with the group of buildings at this site. Redford barracks was the pinnacle of military building prior to the First World War and the complex as a whole is a rare survivor.

Architectural or Historic Interest


The interior features of the infantry band block are of a simple type and are standard for this functional military building. The band building associated with the Redford cavalry barracks has a small timber gallery in the central open space, but none is apparent here.

Plan form

The rectangular plan form of the building, is a simple, symmetrical design.

Internally, the plan is of a large central space, with corridors to both side and rooms off. The central space would have been sued for band practice, and was large enough to accommodate all the musicians.

Technological excellence or innovation, material or design quality

The external decoration in the former band building lies mostly in the stonework techniques. The stone used to build the barracks came from Black Pasture and Doddington quarries in Northumberland, which provided stone for a number of buildings in Scotland. The contrast between the smooth blond stone used in the margins with the rock-faced darker stone used in the rest of the building gives the building a characteristic appearance.

The central gables with their Diocletian windows to the upper floors are the only design features which break the long line of otherwise uninterrupted windows to both floors. The two entrance doors do not have elaborate doorways.

Plans of the elevations held at the National Archives of Scotland confirm that the external detailing has been little altered since the band block was built.

Harry Bell Measures (circa 1862-1940), was based in London and was the first (and only) holder of a new civilian post, Director of Barrack Construction, which was created in 1904 in order to free the Royal Engineers for other, more military, duties. He designed a number of stations for the Central London Railway, several of which survive as current London Underground stations, including Oxford Circus (listed at Grade II). In terms of barracks buildings, however, Douet (1998) suggest that Measures rethought the layout of barracks buildings and 'abandoned the long-entrenched principles of subdivision and separation of the various elements and functions'. Redford Barracks appears to be one of the few barracks sites he completed with his only other large military building the New College at the royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, listed at Grade II (Ref no 1390374).


The former band block at Redford infantry barracks is situated to the rear of the main Infantry barracks Bblock (listed at category A, LB 49560) and is one of the key buildings in a wider complex of military barracks buildings and their ancillaries that make up Redford Barracks.

Some of the earliest buildings in the Redford site, including the married quarters which lay to the east of this building have been demolished and replaced with modern military accommodation. The majority of the 1909-1915 buildings remain, however, and the site as a whole is important in helping our understanding of the organisation of the military in the years leading up to the First World War.

The building lies within the Colinton Conservation Area.

Regional variations

There are no known regional variations.

Close Historical Associations

No close historical associations known at present.

As a major military base in Scotland, Redford bBarracks has provided accommodation and services for a number of Regiments which have been involved in the defence of the United Kingdom over the course of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Statutory address and listed building record revised in 2017 as part of the Redford Barracks listing review. Previously listed as Colinton Road, Redford Infantry Barracks with Officers' Mess, Alma House, Guard House, Former Band Block, Former Sergeants' Mess, Gates, Gatpiers and other ancillary Buildings.


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