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Edinburgh, George Iv Bridge, Central Public Library

Inscribed Stone(S) (Period Unknown), Library (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Edinburgh, George Iv Bridge, Central Public Library

Classification Inscribed Stone(S) (Period Unknown), Library (Period Unassigned)

Canmore ID 52402

Site Number NT27SE 359

NGR NT 25624 73449

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/52402

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

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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

NT27SE 359 25624 73449

NT27SE 830 25629 73472 Central Public Library, Fine Art Department

ARCHITECT: Sir George Washington Browne, 1887-90.

First Carnegie library in Scotland. Francois Premier style, possibly influenced by travels in Paris and the Beaux-Arts- trained S.H.Capper. Greek-cross plan. Extends four storeys down to Cowgate. Francois Premier style also used by Browne for British Linen Bank, 69 George Street (1905).

D. Mays 1992

Activities

Project (1997)

The Public Monuments and Sculpture Association (http://www.pmsa.org.uk/) 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 (9 November 1999)

Potrait bust of Andrew Carnegie, bearded, looking upwards, wearing bow tie, jacket and collared waistcoat, set on double base of different coloured marble with an aedicular wall niche with panels and moulding (painted).

Andrew Carnegie laid the foundation stone of the Central Library on 9 July 1887.

In 1886 Andrew Carnegie offered £25,000, later increased to £50,000, for the establishment of a free Central Library in Edinburgh, provided the city adopt the Public Libraries Act.. This was accepted by the city.

Inscriptions : On brown marble base at front: CARNEGIE

Signatures : None Visible

Design period : 1891

Information from Public Monuments and Sculpture Association (PMSA Work Ref : EDIN0126)

Field Visit (16 November 2006)

Between 1st and 2nd floor windows are three large coats of arms:

(1) the Arms of Scotland, composed of a shield decorated with a lion rampant supported by two rampant unicorns. Above the shield is a helmet surmounted by a lion sejant holding a sword and sceptre.

(2) the arms of Edinburgh, composed of a shield decorated with a three-towered castle supported by a maiden (left) and a hind (right). Above the shield is an anchor.

(3) the Royal Arms of Scotland, composed of a shield decorated with a lion rampant in the 1st and 4th quarters, three lions passant guardant in the 2nd quarter, and a harp in the 3rd quarter; supported by a rampant unicorn (left) and a lion rampant (right). Above the shield is a helmet surmounted by a lion sejant holding a sword and sceptre.

Above the entrance is a panel carved with a banner (on which is LET THERE BE LIGHT) over a rising sun, with foliage to left and right.

Above the ground floor windows to the left of the entrance are three panels (from left to right):

(1) Androw Myllar's punning device of a windmill with a man on the right with a sack on his shoulder, climbing a ladder up to the windmill. To the left is a tree. In each of the top corners is a shield decorated with three ears of wheat. Below the windmill is a shield decorated with masonic symbols. At the foot of the panel is carved: Androw Mellar.

(2) A tree flanked by a man (left) and a woman (right) holding large flowers over their shoulders. To each side are flowers. On the tree is a large shield carved with entwined WC. At the foot of the panel is carved: WALTERUS CHEPMAN.

(3) A temple with a large crown on top and foliage to each side. A ribbon runs between the temple columns carved: [- -]RMANT CONSILIVM PIETAS POLITEIA [-]ORONAM

Above the ground floor windows to the right of the entrance are three panels (from left to right):

(1) A tree with a large barrel at the base inscribed GR (?). A ribbon runs across the panel, and behind the tree, carved: SVSCIPITE INSITVM VERBVM IAGO

(2) A decorative panel, carved in the centre: M [entwined symbols] C

(3) A boy with a swirl of drapery wakes a sleeping girl by shaking her shoulder and pointing to the rising sun behind a townscape. At the foot of the panel is carved: ARISE FOR IT IS DAY

Above the ground floor windows of the northern section of the building are three further panels (from left to right):

(1) A hand with a compass coming out of the clouds, the points resting on a large book, surrounded by a wreath of fruit. A ribbon runs through the wreath carved: LABORE ET CONSTANTIA

(2) A large tree with a man on the right picking a bunch of grapes. A ribbon on the left is carved: NON SOLUS

(3) An anchor with a dolphin entwined around it, carved on the left: ALDVS and on the right M. R.

To either side of the windows is a shield within an architectural frame. On the left is St Andrew and his cross; on the right is a lion rampant.

Andrew Carnegie 'intimated to the Lord Provost of Edinburgh that "he would like to do his part in adding to the numerous attractions of the superb metropolis of his native land, and that it would give him great pleasure to present the Magistrates and Town Council with £25,000 for a free library." This munificent gift he subsequently increased by another donation of £25,000.' (The Builder 18 September 1886, p.407).

A competition to design the new library followed in 1887, which was won by George Washington Browne.

Stoneworks carried out repairs to the building.

Walter Chepman (1473?-1538?) and Androw Myllar (fl.1503-1508) divided the honour of being the first printers in Scotland. In 1507 they were granted a patent from James IV. They set up their press in what is now the Cowgate in Edinburgh, and on 4 April 1508 issued the first book known to have been printed in Scotland ('The Maying or Disport of Chaucer', better known as 'The Complaint of the Black Knight').

Inscriptions : Below Arms of Scotland (raised letters): NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSIT

Above Arms of Scotland (raised letters): IN DEFENS

Below Edinburgh arms (raised letters): NISI DOMINUS FRUSTRA

Below Royal Arms of Scotland (raised letters): DIEU ET MON DROIT

On garter around shield on Royal Arms (raised letters): HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE

On panel above door (raised letters): LET THERE BE LIGHT

On left panel to left of entrance (raised letters): Androw Mellar

On centre panel to left of entrance (raised letters): WALTERUS CHEPMAN

On right panel to left of entrance (raised letters): [- -]RMANT CONSILIVM PIETAS POLITEIA [-]ORONAM

On left panel to right of entrance (raised letters): SVSCIPITE INSITVM VERBVM IAGO

On centre panel to right of entrance (raised letters): M [entwined symbols] C

On right panel to right of entrance (raised letters): ARISE FOR IT IS DAY

On left panel on northern section of building (raised letters): LABORE ET CONSTANTIA

On centre panel on northern section of building (raised letters): NON SOLUS

On right panel on northern section of building (raised letters): ALDVS M. R.

On the south side of the building in the gable of the east corner (raised letters): AD ELP 1899 [ELP (the central L is larger than the other letters) = Edinburgh Public Library]

Signatures : None Visible

Design period : 1887-1890

Information from Public Monuments and Sculpture Association (PMSA Work Ref : EDIN0125)

Project

In the UK and Ireland 660 libraries were funded by Andrew Carnegie or by the Carnegie UK Trust. We’re working with the Carnegie UK Trust to enhance our online collection of Carnegie places in Scotland and we’d like your help.

You can help to improve our records in three ways:

- suggest Carnegie sites that aren’t currently on our list below

- add information and memories to these records

- upload old and new images to these records

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