Edinburgh’s New Town – Watercolour/ink in a Watercolour Moleskine

This scene shows part of the New Town which was built to accommodate the overspill from the “Old Town”, the area where the Royal Mile and Castle lie. When it became a priority that Edinburgh needed to expand from this historical location a design competition was held (January 1766) the winner being one James Craig. His design included the main thoroughfares of Princes Street, George Street and Queen Street linking two large Squares at their east and west ends. Building had actually begun in 1765, with the draining of the Nor’ Loch(below Edinburgh Castle) and the construction of the Mound using the spoil from the loch. This would create Princes Street Gardens and an access route between the old and new areas. Various architects were employed on various parts of the New Town the best known being Robert Adam who had studied in Italy and whose experience there coloured some of his best known buildings such as Charlotte Square where this scene lies next to. It shows Great Stuart Street and part of Ainslie Place which were part of the later buildings to be added to the project. In fact, the whole works were not completed until 1852.

Visitors should visit this part of the city as the buildings are impressive. These days, the various floors tend to be divided up into separate dwellings but originally would be part of one great house – the Town House. People still say, when going into the city, they are going, “Into Town.” The upper/attic floors, as well as the basements, were designated for the servants. This left the ground and next two floors for the owners who could access their property at street level. Even today, the basements, entered by an outside staircase, command fees of over £1,000,000. All property owners has access to the locked gardens, part of one is shown on the right – something which exists even to this day. You have to be wealthy to stay here.