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Edinburgh, Gilmore Park, North British Rubber Company

Office(S) (19th Century), Rubber Works (19th Century)

Site Name Edinburgh, Gilmore Park, North British Rubber Company

Classification Office(S) (19th Century), Rubber Works (19th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Castle Mills; Fountainbridge; Scottish And Newcastle Brewery; Fountain Brewery Offices

Canmore ID 151836

Site Number NT27SW 2848

NGR NT 24344 72787

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2019.

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Administrative Areas

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

Architecture Notes

NT27SW 2848 24343 72783

Edinburgh, Gilmore Park, Castle Mills, North British Rubber Company.

Architect: Frank Blance, 1929.


Edinburgh, Gilmore Park, Castle Mills, North British Rubber Company.

R.I.B.A. Drawings Collection, Frank Blance, 1929.

-Designs for extension of tyre department.

(Undated) information in NMRS.


Archaeological Evaluation (14 September 2015 - 18 September 2015)

AOC Archaeology Group was commissioned by the EDI Group Ltd to undertake an archaeological evaluation prior to the construction of new housing at a site in Fountainbridge, as part of a planning condition. The development area consisted of two large areas between Viewforth and Fountainbridge, separated by Gilmore Park. Prior to this development, the site had been occupied by the Fountainbridge Brewery, built in the 1970s, which was built on the site of the former Castle Mill Works. Originally, a 10% sample of the 3.2 ha development area was required. However, due to the large presence of live services, some areas inaccessible due to their use as community plots, and the depth of made ground encountered during the evaluation, 695m² was finally evaluated, equating to nearly 2.5% of the development area. In all trenches there was a significant amount of made ground ranging from 1.45m – 3m in depth. Therefore, it is unlikely that much of the original footings or features associated with the 19th century industrial works have survived, these being demolished and also as a levelling course for the new Fountainbridge Brewery. The only possible 19th century feature identified was a brick culvert (Trench 3) to the south-west of the development plot in the area of the former Castle Mills.

Information from Diana Sproat (AOC Archaeology Group) 25 September 2015.OASIS ID: aocarcha1-224583

Test Pit Survey (1 November 2016 - 2 November 2016)

Addyman Archaeology was contracted by Gardiner and Theobald on behalf of Edinburgh Printmakers to undertake an archaeological watching brief during geotechnical investigations at the former North British Rubber Company buildings, 2 Gilmore Park, Edinburgh. It is proposed to convert and extend the structures to provide a new base for the Edinburgh Printmakers. A series of eight test-pits were excavated: one to reveal the soil morphology over the maximum excavatable depth (Test-Pit 1), three for plate load testing purposes (TP's 2, 3, 6), and four to reveal the depth of the building's foundations (TP's 4, 5, 7, 8). Stratigraphy within test-pit 1 showed over 2.0m of made ground overlying natural silty clay and boulder clays, with no archaeological finds or features present; made ground was noted in all test-pits, extending below the excavated depth in test-pits 2, 3, 5, and 6, and overlying the natural boulder clay in test-pits 4, 7, and 8. Stepped aggregate building foundations were seen within TP7, while the foundations within TP8 were non-stepped brick; the foundations within in both trenches were located at approximately 1.6m below the present ground level. TP5 showed the lower wall exposed within the trench to be plastered and painted, suggesting a cellar level or open area now in-filled. The watching brief revealed the depth of the brick foundations of the surviving building and also revealed a possible cellar within Test Pit 5, suggesting there may have been a former building in this area. The site has clearly been severely been affected by modern demolition, with demolition rubble encountered in all trenches, however only one of the test pits excavated was deep enough to reach natural deposits. It is therefore possible that although not encountered, building foundations and other archaeological deposits may survive in isolated areas within and below the made ground that stretches across the development area.

Information from Andrew Morrison (Addyman Archaeology) November 2016. OASIS ID: addymana1-268640

Standing Building Recording (29 May 2017 - 7 August 2017)

Addyman Archaeology was commissioned by Gardiner and Theobald on behalf of Edinburgh Printmakers to carry out historic building recording at the Former North British Rubber Company, 2 Gilmore Park, prior to its conversion for Edinburgh Printmakers in order to fulfil the archaeological requirement of the planning conditions (ref. 15/03186/LBC and 15/03129/FUL). Building recording of this B-listed building (ref. LB44936) and monitoring during stripping and ground-reduction works was undertaken from July and August 2017, including a full photographic survey. Building plans and elevations were produced detailing the phasing of the buildings. This survey shows that the buildings may be understood as the result of five phases major phases of construction, alteration and use. The earliest Phase 1 building was completed in 1875 and may incorporate an earlier gate-house structure. A major extension occurred in Phase 2, when from 1894 the major frontages along Gilmore Park and Dundee Street were added. Phase 3 is datable to 1916, when the ornate public entrance door was inserted in to the Phase 2 building, and the main entrance halls and internal spaces of the Phase 1 building were remodelled, some of these features remaining in situ. The Phase 3 entrance hall was designed as an impressive display of the potential of rubber products. In Phase 4, a substantial addition to the south-east side of the building filled in the re-entrant between the Phase 1 and Phase 2 buildings, producing a more regular L-shaped plan. Phase 5 includes the post-NBRCo use of the building, from 1971 to the present.

Information from Philip Karsgaard (addyman Archaeology) February 2018

OASIS ID: addymana1-307643

Publication Account

The Castle Silk Mills were incorporated into the North British Rubber Company. William Casey & Co took advantage of the water supply from the canal to establish the Castle Silk Mills, spinning ‘yarn from silk waste’ in 1836-7, a process that continued under several operating names until 1845-6, based on entries in the Post Office Directories.The New Statistical Account (1845) states that 'A silk mill was established some years ago in the vicinity of the city of Edinburgh, but it had not been successful'.It therefore appears that the silk mills had failed as a concern by 1844-5, and is shown on the Ordnance Survey 1st Edition 1:1056 map of 1852 as ‘Disused'. Due to the mill’s failure, an auction of the site and machinery was announced on 7th April 1845. The auction notice pointed out that the mills had been 'erected in the years 1836 and 1837'. While emphasising the closeness to transport links (100 yards from Port Hopetoun Basin on the Union Canal, less than 'half a mile distant' of the Edinburgh & Glasgow Railway, 2.5 miles from Leith, and the proposed North British Railway due to be completed the following year) it is also pointed out that with little rearrangement and cost it could be converted to flax production. The site was advertised as steam powered – a chimney is depicted to the west of the main buildings on maps – and could accommodate 350-400 workers.

The Ordnance Survey 1st Edition 1:1056 map of 1852 shows a U-shaped building with entry to the five-acre complex from what became Gilmore Park and what appears to be a rather grand entrance within the courtyard with a double flight of stairs. This was probably the engine house. The auction particulars describe Castle Silk Mills as a ‘half of an oblong quadrangle’, built of freestone, with the 'engine-house detached in the centre of it'. The sales particulars also state that another range could be added to ‘complete the square’. The north side is noted as being five-storeyed-plus-attic, while the east and south sides are three-storeyed-plus-attic, with each storey being 11 feet in height. The machinery within the complex is listed, including the makers’ names. The site was obviously not sold, for there is an 'adjourned sale' advertisement in the Glasgow Herald of 7th May 1847, where the whole site and contents are being offered at a suggested price of £10,500.60 The site was still lying empty in June 1853 when another auction took place to dispose of machinery not sold in earlier sales.

In Scotland, silk textile production was mostly concentrated in Renfrewshire, especially Paisley. There is little evidence of purpose-built silk processing mills in Scotland thus making the Castle Mills unusual both in scale and function, especially as it was being built at a time of economic depression. It constituted a major capital investment in a brand of textile which was always precarious due to the difficulties of sourcing silk. Shortly afterwards, the silk industry in the UK went into terminal decline during the second half of the 19th century due to silkworm disease hitting supply, along with more readily available imported silks from the Far East.

A Adamson, L Kilpatrick & M McDonald (2017)


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