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History of Edinburgh

Notable Dates in Edinburgh's History:

1128 King David I granted charter for the erection of the Monestery of the Holy Cross or Holyrood.
1628 Heriot's Hospital"was founded and erected for £30,000 by George Heriot, citizen of Edinburgh and jeweller to King James VI.
1637 The Tron Kirk was founded
St Cuthbert's Church erected.
21 Oct 1763 North Bridge: The first stone was laid for the North Bridge, which provided a route leading from the Old Town to the (yet to be constructed) New Town of Edinburgh
1763 The Nor' Loch was drained
1767 Edinburgh New Town: James Craig created the design of the Edinburgh New Town
1769 The North Bridge was completed
1774 Register Office [East Register House] was founded
1779 The Earthen Mound was commenced, to give a second communication between the Old Town and New Town. It was created by throwing earth excavated from the foundations of houses in the New Town into the Nor' Loch.
1788 New Assembly Rooms were founded in George Street.
May 1801 Leith Docks: The foundation-stone of the eastern wet docks was laid
1801 The Meadows: The Town Council agreed to have the Meadows drained "
1803 Royal Mile: "During this year, a great part of the Luckenbooths was pulled down, the High Street widened where they stood, and the beautiful old Cathedral of St Giles opened to public view"
20 May 1806 Leith Docks: The new wet dock was opened.
21 Oct 1807 Nelson Monument: The foundation-stone of Lord Nelson's monument was laid on Calton Hill. The monument is in the shape of a telescope standing on its end.
14 Mar 1811 Leith Docks: The foundation-stone for the middle wet dock was laid. The dock was completed in 1817.
15 Apr 1813 Newhaven: The Foundation stone of the new harbour at Newhaven was laid.
19 Sep 1815 Regent Bridge and Calton Jail: Foundation Stones laid for Regent Bridge and the new Calton Jail were laid.
1816 Edinburgh Races: The Caledonian Hunt and Edinburgh Races were held for the first time, in 1916, at Musselburgh. In earlier years, Leith Sands had been the venue.
31 Nov 1817 Leith Harbour: The second new wet dock at Leith was opened.
25 Jan 1817 "The Scotsman": The first edition of The Scotsman newspaper was published on 25 January 1817.
3 Mar 1818 Union Canal: Construction of the Edinburgh & Glasgow Union Canal commenced
3 Feb 1820 Proclamation: Ceremony at the Cross of Edinburgh to proclaim George IV as King, following the death of George III on 29 Jan 1820.
1821 The Nor' Loch: That part of it which lies to the west of The Mound was enclosed, drained and planted with trees and shrubs, and walks formed in it. This is now West Princes Street Gardens
28 Apr 1821 St Andrew Square: Foundation Stone laid for the Melville Monument in St Andrew Square
10 Jan 1822 Princes Street 53 gas lanterns were installed in Princes Street. These replaced 79 oil lamps
May 1822 Union Canal: Edinburgh & Glasgow Union Canal was opened. The length of the canal was 31.5 miles long.
1822 Register House at the east end of Princes Street, facing the North Bridge, was completed.
27 Aug 1822 National Monument: The foundation-stone was laid during King George IV's visit to Edinburgh, though he did not attend the ceremony personallyThe original plan was to construct an edifice after the Parthenon of Athens at a cost of £60,000.Twenty years later it was written:"Twelve columns only have been erected at the expense of £13,000" [Source: McDowell's Guide: c.1840]The plan to complete this monument was abandoned. The monument looks the same today as it did in 1840.
30 Jun 1823 Edinburgh Academy: The foundation-stone was laid
May 1824 New Botanic Gardens opened at Inverleith Row, replacing the Royal Botanic Garden, Leith Walk.
24 May 1824 Tanfield: The foundation-stone was laid for oil-gas works at Tanfield was laid by Sir Walter Scott, Chairman of the company.
15 Nov 1824 The most disastrous fire in the history of the City broke out, destroying many houses between the High Street and Cowgate, and the steeple of the Tron Church.
28 Jul 1825 Royal High School: The foundation-stone of the new Royal High School was laid with Masonic honours.
13 Feb 1826 The Royal Institution, The Mound, opened. This is now the National Gallery of Scotland.
1828 St Stephen's Church erected.
1828 Steam Coach: A steam coach was constructed by James and George Naysmith, sons of the artist. It ran between Leith and Queensferry at between 4 and 7 miles per hour.
24 Dec 1828 Burke & Hare: The trial of Burke, for the Burke & Hare murders, began in the High Court
23 Jun 1829 Royal High School: The Royal High School, described in the press as one of the most perfect classical edifices in the country was opened.
29 Sep 1829 Tolbooth Church: The foundation-stone was laid.
1833 Pitt Statue was erected in George Street.
1833 Dean Bridge was erected.
15 Aug 1840 The Scott Monument foundation-stone was laid.The Monument, a Gothic design, was created by architect, George Meikle Kemp. The Statue of Sir Walter Scott is by John Steele RSA. The Monument was formerly inaugurated on 17 Aug 1846.George Meikle Kemp did not live to see the completion of the Monument. He drowned in an accident in the Union Canal on 6 March 1844.
1 Sep 1842 Queen Victoria & Prince Albert landed at Granton
1843 Warriston Cemetery opened.
1844 The Burns Monument is situated close to the Royal High School on the road from Edinburgh to London, beneath Calton Hill
24 Jan 1844 Royal Institution: A large statue of Queen Victoria, carved by Sir John Steele, was placed on top of the Royal Institution in 1843.
4 Jun 1844 Commercial Bank: The foundation-stone of the Commercial Bank in George Street was laid.
19 Jan 1845 Fire totally destroyed Old Greyfriars Church, and badly damaged New Greyfriar's Church.
17 Aug 1846 The Scott Monument was inaugurated.
30 Aug 1850 National Gallery: Prince Albert, travelling with Queen Victoria on their way to Balmoral, laid the foundation stone of the National Gallery of Art at the Mound
3 Feb 1851 Donaldson's Hospital inaugurated.
14 Jun 1852 Wellington's statue was set up opposite Register House. This was the anniversary of Waterloo
17 Aug 1852 Victoria Dock opened at Leith for admission of vessels.
19 Dec 1855 Queen's Theatre & Opera House was opened.
14 Jun 1857 Old Greyfriar's Church, was reopened after total destruction by fire in 1845.
22 Mar 1859 National Gallery opened to the public
23 Dec 1859 National Museum of Antiquities was inaugurated, and opened to the public the following week. This building, in Queen Street is now the Scottish National Portrait Gallery
26 Jan 1861 The Time Gun was first fired by electrical arrangement from the Nelson Monument
23 Sep 1861 Museum: The foundation-stone of the new Museum of Science and Art was laid by Prince Albert
23 Sep 1861 Post Office: Foundation-stone of the Post Office was laid by Prince Albert
21 Jun 1864 Last Public Execution in the City - George Bryce, the Ratho murderer
13 Jan 1865 Fire: Theatre Royal, Broughton Street, destroyed by fire
2 May 1870 Caledonian Railway Station opened at West End of Princes Street
13 Oct 1870 Royal Infirmary: Foundation-stone laid for the Royal Infirmary, Lauriston Place
6 Feb 1875 Fire: Theatre Royal, Broughton Street burnt to the ground (again!)
20 Oct 1875 North Bridge re-opened after having been widened and its level raised 18 inches.
18 Jun 1876 Waverley Market: The Promenade on top of the Waverley Market opened. This was formed by the city covering in the market.
29 Oct 1879 New Infirmary opened.
Feb 1880 Telephones: The telephone was introduced into Edinburgh.
1880 The Scott Monument: The Town Council resolved to fill the niches in the Scott Monument with sculptured figures representing characters from the Waverley Novels.
10 Sep 1883 Lyceum Theatre opened
30 Jun 1884 Fire: Theatre Royal was totally destroyed by fire.
22 Aug 1884 Prince and Princess of Wales visited the International Forestry Exhibition held in the grounds of Donaldson's Hospital.
16 Oct 1884 Edinburgh Suburban Railway opened.
6 May 1886 International Exhibition opened in the Meadows.
9 Jul 1887 Public Library on George IV Bridge - the foundation-stone was laid.
15 Jul 1889 Portrait Gallery:: The Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Queen Street opened.
4 Mar 1890 The Forth Bridge: The last rivet was driven into the Forth Bridge, and the bridge was declared open
9 Jun 1890 Public Library opened on George IV Bridge.This library includes the Edinburgh Room with its extensive collection of books, directories, photographs, maps and other material relating to the history of Edinburgh.
1892 St Cuthbert's New Parish Church foundation-stone was laid.
26 Nov 1892 Jenners - Fire: The premises of Messrs Charles Jenner & Co, silk merchants and drapers, Princes Street, were completely destroyed by fire.
11 Apr 1895 Electric Light was installed in Edinburgh
1896 Edinburgh's boundaries were extended to include Portobello
7 Apr 1896 Observatory: A new observatory was opened on Blackford Hill, having taken four years to build
25 May 1896 North Bridge: The foundation-stone was laid for the new North Bridge
15 Sep 1897 North Bridge: The new North Bridge was opened.
Dec 3 1897 McEwan Hall opened.
25 Oct 189 8 Calton Hill: The observatory opened.
1903 Royal Visit: In May 1903, King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra rode through the decorated streets of Edinburgh to mark Edward's coronation in London the previous year.
1903 Floral Clock: The Floral Clock was installed in Princes Street Gardens in 1903. Hands were added in 1904 and the cuckoo was added in 1905. The floral decoration around the clock commemorated a different event each year.
1911 Fire: Empire Palace Theatre: On 9 May 1911,, the illusionist 'The Great Lafayette' accidentally set light to the stage at the Empire Palace Theatre with a lighted torch. The theatre burnt down. Lafayette was one of ten who died in the incident.The Empire Theatre opened again as The Edinburgh Festival Theatre in 1994.


Brief History of Edinburgh with original Photographs by Elaine Ferguson:

During King David I's time the whole area was part of the forest of Drumsheuch and was a favourite hunting ground. It was during this time, that while out hunting, King David I narrowly escaped being attacked by a white deer and as a token to God for his brush with death he erected the Abbey of Holyrood in 1128. Today the Abbey is in ruins and the Palace of Holyrood now stands next to the ruins in Queens Park. Visits by members of the Royal family are always marked with the raising of the Scottish flag of the Lion Rampant on its roof.

Holyrood Palace


The Nor loch Today


Edinburgh's Floral Clock is situated at the east end of West Princes St gardens. The clock is in continious movement and if you stand and watch you can see the minute hand slowly moving round the flower dial. At each quarter hour the Cuckoo pops its out of its home and sings the time, well, cuckoos the time anyway. In 2004 the charity Enable was the theme for its 50 year aniversary.
Edinburghs Floral Clock Enable is the theme for 2004


Below is Edinburgh's North Bridge today where spans Edinburghs main train terminius, Waverly Station. The original bridge was was completed in 1769 and provided access from the old Town of Edinburgh with its cramped and squalid living conditions, to the luxury and expansive recidences of Edinburgh's new town. A new bridge was built and opened in 1896 and is still one of the main road arteries from the old city into the new town and Princes St.
North Bridge with Arthur Seat in the background



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