Font Size

100% 150% 200%

Background Colour

Default Contrast
Close Reset

Edinburgh, Sciennes Road, Royal Hospital For Sick Children

Hospital (19th Century) (1895)-(2021)

Site Name Edinburgh, Sciennes Road, Royal Hospital For Sick Children

Classification Hospital (19th Century) (1895)-(2021)

Alternative Name(s) Rillbank

Canmore ID 120073

Site Number NT27SE 1678

NGR NT 25833 72349

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2024.

Toggle Aerial | View on large map

Digital Images

First 100 images shown. See the Collections panel (below) for a link to all 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 (2 June 2022)

The Royal Hospital for Sick Children was recorded by the Threatened Buildings Survey in April 2021. It was recorded after the patients had been moved to the new hospital at Petty France but before the NHS had vacated the site. The record was taken during the Covid Pandemic and the various rainbows memorialise this period. The wards were also decorated with messages and signatures saying farewell to a much-loved building.

The first hospital for Sick Children founded in 1860 was at 7 Lauriston Lane (Canmore ID 123071) it moved soon after into the adjacent Meadowside House. It received its royal charter in 1863. Meadowside House was demolished to make way for the expanding Royal Infirmary when the Royal Hospital for Sick Children moved to its new building in 1895.

The hospital was designed by George Washington Browne,1892-5. It was built on the site of Rillbank House, a villa, which had been used as the Trades Maidens Hospital from 1855. The new hospital opened on 31st October 1895. It was built in a distinctive Jacobean Renaissance Style in Red sandstone facing south onto Sciennes Road unlike Rillbank House that faced north to the meadows. The original U-plan hospital and a central administration block with the flanking wings containing a ward on each of the three floors. This followed the ‘Nightingale’ plan of well-lit, well-ventilated wards used at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

From its opening in 1895 the hospital continued to develop and expand until its closure in 2021.

The Mortuary Chapel, designed by George Washington Browne, was built in 1895 as part of the Royal Hospital for Sick Children Hospital. As originally built, it was a simple single storey building. Phoebe Anna Traquair had transformed a coalhouse at the first Royal Hospital for Sick Children at Meadowside House, Lauriston Lane, into a Chapel of Rest with a cycle of murals in 1885. After a campaign led by Traquair the murals were transferred to the new hospital in 1895. She adapted and augmented the murals for their new location 1896-7. Reginald Fairlie added the upper storey to the chapel building in 1931.

In 1901-3 George Washington Browne designed the separate Outpatients Department on Sylvan Place and a detached Dispensary at the southeast corner of the site. In 1924 10-11 Rillbank Terrace was adapted by Sydney Mitchell and Wilson as a nurses’ home. Reginald Fairlie made further alterations and extensions. In the twentieth century the hospital gradually expanded until it occupied all the houses in Rillbank Terrace and Rillbank Crescent as well as 11-21 Millerfield Place. A series of temporary buildings were also erected in the gardens between Rillbank Terrace and Millerfield Place. Rillbank Terrace, Rillbank Crescent and 11-21 Millerfield Place were developed in the early 1860’s consisting of bay windowed terraced houses with single blocks of tenements at 21 Millerfield Place, 1 and 18 Rillbank Terrace.

Cullen Lochhead and Brown undertook extensive alterations including adding extensions to the northeast and northwest of the main hospital block in 1958 and a new south stair tower in 1979.

In 1990 a wide variety of piecemeal extensions to the west of the original hospital and 10-13 Rillbank Terrace including the Nurses Home were demolished to accommodate a new wing designed by Campbell and Arnott in a sympathetic post-modern style using red and cream sandstone. This was the first of the hospital’s buildings to address the central axis of Rillbank Terrace as Rillbank House had done before see DP 377911.

In May 2022 the Outpatients Department on Sylvan Place, 1 Rillbank Crescent and the 1990 Campbell and Arnott wing have been demolished along with various temporary buildings. Also the block linking the main hospital building, the Mortuary Chapel Building and 9 Rillbank Terrace has been demolished. The cleared site is being developed but all the other buildings on the site that made up the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in 2021 remain empty. It is propose to convert the original hospital building into apartments with the surviving 19th century houses on Rillbank Terrace, Rillbank Crescent and 11-21 Millerfield Place being returned to residential use. The architects for the proposed conversion are Fletcher Joseph Architects and the developers are Downing. The site created by the demolition fronting Sciennes Road and Sylvan Place is proposed to be developed as a combination of student housing and affordable homes.

Architecture Notes

NT27SE 1678.00 25833 72349

NT27SE 1678.01 2580 7238 10, 11 Rillbank Terrace, Nurses Home

Built on site of Trade Maidens Hospital, at Rillbank House (1854 - 1892).

See also: NT27SE 1870 Edinburgh, Lauriston Lane, Meadowside House


Sir George Washington Browne, 1892

Reginald Fairlie, 1931 - 38 - additions and operations to 8, 9 & 13 Rillbank Terrace

& 16 Hope Terrace

Henry & MacLEnnan of Edinburgh - Ext 1/4/1912 - additional storey to nurses home,

West of main building (information from B Blackmore)


The RSA have George Washington Browne's perspective, published in The Builder and a sketch of the entrance.


2 Rillbank Crescent: alterations for Royal Hospital for Sick Children

Dick Peddie & MacKay, Edinburgh alterations

Attic 2, Bin 22, Bag 2 Dick Peddie, Todd & Jamieson 1946

10 & 11 Rillbank Terrace, Nurses Home.

Sydney Mitchell & Wilson (E.A. Jamieson), Edinburgh alterations

Attic 2, Bin 6, Bag 2 13 Young Street 1925


Project (1997)

The Public Monuments and Sculpture Association ( set up a National Recording Project in 1997 with the aim of making a survey of public monuments and sculpture in Britain ranging from medieval monuments to the most contemporary works. Information from the Edinburgh project was added to the RCAHMS database in October 2010 and again in 2012.

The PMSA (Public Monuments and Sculpture Association) Edinburgh Sculpture Project has been supported by Eastern Photocolour, Edinburgh College of Art, the Edinburgh World Heritage Trust, Historic Scotland, the Hope Scott Trust, The Old Edinburgh Club, the Pilgrim Trust, the RCAHMS, and the Scottish Archive Network.

Field Visit (3 August 1999)

The coat of arms, in stone relief, is placed in a semi-circular pediment above the door: central shield with unicorn rampant to left, crowned lion rampant to right, open globe and crown above, acanthus background.

The bronze inscribed plaque is in a stone architectural frame with a semi-circular pediment containing three infants' heads. A frieze between the plaque and the pediment has two cartouches carved with C C (entwined) and J D (entwined). A frieze with a wreath is at the bottom.

Inscriptions : At top of coat of arms: IN DEFENSE




Signatures : None

Design period : c.1895

Year of unveiling : 1895

Unveiling details : Hospital opened on 31 October 1895 by H.R.H. Princess Beatrice

Information from Public Monuments and Sculpture Association (PMSA Work Ref : EDIN0029)


MyCanmore Image Contributions

Contribute an Image

MyCanmore Text Contributions