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Edinburgh, West Bow, General

General View

Site Name Edinburgh, West Bow, General

Classification General View

Canmore ID 112793

Site Number NT27SE 694

NGR NT 2549 7342

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Edinburgh, City Of
  • Parish Edinburgh (Edinburgh, City Of)
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District City Of Edinburgh
  • Former County Midlothian

Architecture Notes


National Library, Country Life, January 3rd 1925

Text from 'Bulletin' from D80968/NC;


These are some of the last of the old houses left in Edinburgh's historic West Bow.

Of old the West Bow zig-zagged sharply down the steep slope from Castlehill to the Grassmarket. But in the last century most of the old houses were swept away, the dramatic line of the street altered, and even its historic name changed to the dull, perjink "Victoria Street."

The old houses - careful architectural drawings of their facades remain - were a fascinating collection, full of interest and character. They included the home of the evil Major Weir-left empty for 200 years since no one would live in, and few would even enter it.

What an interesting group these surviving houses make with their varying gables! Above the topmost windows of two of them we may see entrances to attic doocots.

They are well-planned, sensible houses, excellently lit by ample windows. They should serve as object lessons for modern city building.

Here, in fact, the Old Town of Edinburgh provided a most valuable building tradition. Alone of British cities Edinburgh had built, owing to the confined limits of her ancient boundaries, large-scale terraced blocks. It is a great pity that they were not used as sources for modern buildings, very different from the vulgar and uninspired blocks that we usually see erected to-day.

George Scott-Moncrieff.'

National Library of Scotland - Vol. 1 Nos. 4 & 14, of water colour sketches by Thomas Brown, Advocate. [Ref. 'Adv.Mss 34.8.1-3] See under: Water Colour Sketches, series of, by Thomas Brown, Advocate

Society of Antiquaries of Scotland - Sir David Wilson's "Old Edinburgh" Vol. II. Pencil sketch (1843) & 1 water colour sketch.

George Scott Moncrieff - 'Edinburgh' (1947). Plate 36, 40 & 56.

Twelve Etchings of Views etc. Part I, by an Amateur (1816) - 1 etching

Edinburgh Public Library Accession G.72284 - 1 photograph c1880.

The National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, contains,in the

"MSS. 3241-3", a collection of Sketches by James Nasmyth, his brother Patrick, and his sister Jane, with some by his father. In volume 3241 is a sketch of 1822, initialed J.N., and numbered 13, of the upper part of the West Bow, Edinburgh.

Text from an advertisement in the Edinburgh Evening Courant, 27th January 1757 from print B41598;

"MRS HAMILTON, at her shop in the West-bow, first turn on the left hand going up, at the sign of the gardiner, has just now imported an assort-

ment of fresh GARDENSEEDS, GRASS SEEDS, sundry sorts of FLOWER SEEDS, and TREE SEEDS, particularly very good BEECH-MAST, all of last year's saving. ANEMONIE'S and RANUNCULUS roots, either common or fine kinds may be had at the same shop.

* * As also, a choice collection of double blue white and rose coloured

* hyacinthus's, polyantho's and narcissus's blowing in water glasses: Likewise continues to sell all sorts of garden utensils, green and white split pease, anise, caraway and coriander seeds, seeds for birds, &c. -Such as please to favour her with their orders, may depend on punctual service, and charged at the lowest prices.

N.B. Any who want collyflower, cabbage, asparagus plants, &c. may be served at the lowest prices."

There are NMRS photographs for Mrs. Hamilton's Nursery shop from the Property Services Agency Collection, Acc no 1993/85 - unable to find at time of upgrade - 18.2.1997.

NG 1/59/113 Correspondence with commissioners of Improvement for purchase of house owned by Peter Spalding c.1828.


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