Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing under the Planning (Listing Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see 'About Listed Buildings' below for more information. The further details below the 'Address/Name of Site' are provided for information purposes only.

Address/Name of Site

Redford Cavalry Barracks block, including stables, Colinton Road, EdinburghLB28009

Status: Designated


Where documents include maps, the use of this data is subject to terms and conditions (


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NT 22465 69545
322465, 669545


A 3-storey, symmetrical, 57-bay, T-plan cavalry barracks block with attics to the gables and end bays and with 9 internal courtyards, designed by Harry B Measures, and built between 1909 and 1915. There are 6 stable blocks situated close to the building on the southwest and 6 to the northeast. The buildings are set back from the parade ground towards the east of the extensive barracks site.

The barracks block is of dark, coursed rock-faced rubble with pale ashlar dressings and has channelled ashlar at the ground floor. There is a base course, band courses at all floors and an eaves course. The windows have projecting cills. The courtyard elevations have some advanced gables, round-arched openings at ground and regular fenestration above.

The principal elevation to the northwest has an advanced central entrance bay with a tall copper-domed clock-tower. Each of the long flanking wings has advanced square end-pavilions with pavilion roofs. Between the entrance bay and the end pavilions there are advanced 3-bay sections with a triangular bay at ground, recessed, arcaded balconies at 1st and 2nd floors, and Dutch gables with Diocletian windows at attic level. There are also smaller advanced 2-window bays with large canted windows at ground level and with semicircular pediments with flanking finials at the roof level. There are alternating wide and narrow round-arched, key-blocked openings on the ground floor. Both ends have Dutch gabled bays with triangular chimney breasts corbelled out at first floor.

The principal entrance is in the central bay, through a round arch in an advanced gabled porch with flanking octagonal buttresses with hemispherical caps. A carved lion rampant sits on a pedestal at the apex of the gable above the entrance. The clock tower above has similar octagonal buttresses at corners, rising from the first floor. There is a circular clock face at the 3rd floor and an octagonal, domed belfry above with round-arched openings.

The side elevations are symmetrical with advanced square end pavilions to the southeast and with two advanced 3-bay sections with Dutch gables and arcaded balconies to the 1st and 2nd floors.

There is a central single storey section to the rear.

The windows are predominantly timber sash and case windows with small multi-pane glazing in the upper sashes and 2-pane glazing to the lower sashes. There are timber casement windows to the ground floor. There are grey graded slates and raised skews to the roof.

The interior of the barracks block was seen in 2016. There are several stone, dog-leg staircases with cast iron railings to all floors. There are dormitories to the upper floors. There are wide corridors on the ground floor between the rooms and the courtyards with some anchor hooks on the walls. There is a former cinema on the ground floor with a segmental-arched roof. There is a canteen area within the courtyard which has part-fluted, Ionic iron columns and a raised area with a dentilled proscenium arch.

The twelve stable blocks to either side are gabled with flat-roofed extensions. They are of dark, coursed rock-faced rubble with pale ashlar dressings and have timber boarded doors and ridge vents. They have small, high level bipartite windows and some have Diocletian windows to the gables.

Internally, all have been converted to provide storage space and some have cobbled floors.

Statement of Special Interest

Dating from 1911-15, the Cavalry Barracks block at Redford is the finest building of its type built in Scotland. It is perhaps the only remaining cavalry barracks in Scotland and contains a wealth of architectural detailing, including a distinctive clock tower and arcaded balconies. It also retains its associated stabling, which was an essential component of the original building and clearly identifies it as a cavalry barracks. It is one of the key buildings in a complex of infantry and cavalry buildings which make up the extensive Redford barracks and the complex as a whole was the pinnacle of military building prior to the First World War. The building and the stables are little altered to their exterior and give an important and rare insight to the way the military was organised at the beginning of the 20th century.

Age and Rarity

Redford Cavalry Barracks was built to replace poor cavalry accommodation at Piershill in Edinburgh. Questions had been raised in Parliament in 1900 about the state of the accommodation at Piershill and, by 1909, the barracks there had been recognised as inadequate. As the military troops based in Edinburgh were also housed in cramped conditions at Edinburgh Castle, the decision was taken by the Government to build a new substantial complex incorporating barracks for both infantry and cavalry and including all the necessary associated buildings on the same site at Redford. Although on the same extensive site, the cavalry barracks (located to the east) and infantry barracks (located to the west) were administered separately.

The cavalry barracks were built to be home to the Royal Scots Greys regiment, who moved to Hounslow as their main base in 1937. Redford Barracks was the largest barracks to be built in Scotland since Fort George in Inverness (1748-1769, Scheduled Monument SM6692). The Redford barracks was the most advanced of its type in Britain at the time and the best equipped, incorporating all the latest developments in training and accommodation. The barracks reflect the military confidence of Britain before the start of the First World War.

The magnitude of the building programme at Redford was so great that the builders, Colin MacAndrew Ltd, built their own railway to transport materials from the main line at Slateford. The Scotsman in 1914 noted 'there is no point at the extensive field at Redford where building operations are in progress which are not served by either the broad or narrow gauge railways'.

All of the cavalry buildings lying to the east of the entire barracks site and include a large barracks block with its associated stables, a guard house with its associated gates and gatepiers, a Commander in Chief's house and stables, (Balaclava House), the Officers' Mess and stables, a former Sergeants' Mess, a band block, an education block, which was originally a school and other auxiliary buildings including further stables, farriers and stores. The cavalry barracks originally included a riding school to the southeast, which is no longer in situ (2016). There were originally married quarters at the centre of the site, but these were demolished in the 1990s. The infantry barracks and all its associated buildings lie to the west of the site.

Cavalry barracks in the 19th century had been built with the horses stabled on the ground floor and with the men in the floors above. By the time Redford was built, this had changed to provide separate accommodation for horses and men. There was a hierarchy in stable accommodation for the horses, as well as the men, and the 12 stables associated with the barracks block are not as spacious as those for the upper ranks. The horses here were led into the stables by doors at each gable end of the block, rather than individual stable doors at the sides. The upper floors in the barracks block were converted in the 1970s from large, dormitory accommodation to smaller, 10-man units. The barracks block is still used as military accommodation (2016). The stables are used as stores (2016).

During the last quarter of the 19th century, the expanding British Empire required more personnel for its administration and its security. To help with the recruitment and training of soldiers, the Secretary of State for War, Edward Cardwell, introduced the Military Localisation Bill in 1872, which introduced new recruiting and training centres around Britain. The majority of the architectural design and planning was carried out by the Director of Design, Major H C Sneddon, and a number of standard types of barracks resulted. Local variations were possible, for example at the Cameron Barracks at Inverness, listed at category B (LB35340) where Scots Baronial architectural features are used. During this period the overall planning and layout of a barracks complex changed from a strict symmetry of buildings around a parade ground to placing the various buildings in the most sensible position according to function.

Up until the beginning of the 20th century, all military fortifications, including barracks were the responsibility of the Royal Engineers. This was reviewed from 1902 and as a result, a civilian department was formed in 1904 under the direction of the Director of Barracks Construction which was responsible for War Department buildings. The new director was Harry Measures. Measures had his own ideas about the design of barracks buildings and he instigated the bringing of various functions under the same roof which had previously had separate buildings. His first project was new cavalry barracks at Norwich, which he designed with all the ancillary and recreational functions in the ground floor of the building with residential accommodation above. This was never built but his ideas on design were realised at Redford.

Following the First World War and over the course of the 20th century, the practice of warfare and the organisation of the military changed. Military accommodation was updated and smaller residential units became standard. Horses were replaced by machinery and Redford Cavalry Barracks, was amongst the last of its type to be built on such a large scale. Only the Hyde Park Barracks in London, built by Sir Basil Spence in 1970 for the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment are comparable in size and scale. A number of cavalry barracks in Scotland were demolished in the 1960s, including at Maryhill in Glasgow and at Perth.

The Cavalry Barracks block at Redford is likely to be the only remaining cavalry barracks in Scotland and was one of the best equipped in the UK when it was built. It contains a wealth of architectural detailing which is discussed in more detail below. It is one of the key buildings in a largely intact complex of infantry and cavalry buildings which make up one of the largest barracks sites ever built in Britain. Redford barracks was the pinnacle of military building prior to the First World War and the complex as a whole is a rare survivor.

Architectural or Historic Interest


The accommodation to the upper storeys of the barracks block was converted from large dormitories into 10-man units in the 1970s.The stone stairs leading to the upper floors are functional in design and in keeping with a large accommodation building for soldiers. The former canteen has some decorative features in the Ionic columns and the dentilled arch over the platform. The wide corridors and anchor enabled horses to brought inside the barracks building to the internal courtyards and is a feature which relates to its original function.

Plan form

The building's plan form combines a T-plan with long accommodation block at the front and sides and with an internal courtyard plan to the rear, which contains communal spaces, including a dining hall, lavatories and washing areas with open areas in between. This general arrangement had been used in other institutional buildings, such as hospitals and poorhouses. It can be seen, for example at the Govan poorhouse, built in 1872 and listed at category B (LB33307), the Ravenscraig Hospital in Greenock, built as a poorhouse in 1879, (listed at category B, LB51132) and the former City Poorhouse in Edinburgh (listed at category B, LB28970).

Plans of the ground floor held at the National Archives of Scotland show the courtyard sections contained the dining hall, a fencing hall, a toilet block and drying areas. The open sections, are marked as 'areas' and would have been used for general training and drill. The accommodation on the ground floor included a games rooms, reading rooms and smoking rooms. The building also included a carpenter's shop, a shoemaker's shop and equipment stores to the rear.

The inclusion of recreation and dining facilities within the one building for those living within it was innovative for this building type when it was built.

The stables are an integral part of the cavalry barracks and distinguish it from the infantry barracks block to the east. It is not known if this was one of the first cavalry barracks to be built with separate stabling for ordinary ranks.

Technological excellence or innovation, material or design quality

The cavalry barracks block is distinguished by a number of decorative features used, both in the stonework and in the design. The stone used to build the barracks came from Black Pasture and Doddington quarries in Northumberland, which provided stone for a number of buildings in Scotland. The contrast between the smooth blond stone used in the ground floor and the margins with the rock-faced darker stone used in the rest of the building gives the building a characteristic appearance.

A number of design features are incorporated into the building, including the use of advanced gabled sections with arcaded balconies, along the elevations to relieve the long, horizontal facades and the round-arched windows used in the ground and side elevations. The tall clock tower is prominent and distinctive and creates an imposing entrance.

The scale and size of the building makes it an imposing structure and this monumentality is emphasised by the large open form parade ground in front of the building which enables the whole of the front elevation to be seen at the one time.

Plans of the elevations held at the National Archives of Scotland confirm that the external detailing has been little altered since the barracks were built.

Harry Bell Measures (circa 1862-1940), was based in London and was the first (and only) holder of a new civilian post, Director of Barrack Construction, which was created in 1904 in order to free the Royal Engineers for other, more military, duties. He designed a number of stations for the Central London Railway, several of which survive as current London Underground stations, including Oxford Circus (listed at Grade II). In terms of barracks buildings, however, Douet (1998) suggests that Measures rethought the layout of barracks buildings and 'abandoned the long-entrenched principles of subdivision and separation of the various elements and functions'. Redford Barracks appears to be one of the few barracks sites he completed with his only other large military building the New College at the royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, listed at Grade II (Ref no 1390374).


Redford cavalry barracks block and stables are key buildings in a wider complex of military barracks buildings and their ancillaries that make up Redford Barracks. Its size makes it one of the most distinctive buildings on the site and its extent is emphasised by the large open parade square which lies in front of the building.

Some of the earliest buildings in the Redford site, including the married quarters which lay to the east of this building have been demolished and replaced with modern military accommodation. While there have been some later alterations to the group of buildings at the barracks site, the majority of the 1909-1915 buildings remain, however, and the integrity of the site continues to help our understanding of the organisation of the military in the years leading up to the First World War.

The building is situated within the Colinton Conservation Area.

Regional variations

There are no known regional variations.

Close Historical Associations

No close historical associations known at present.

As a major military base in Scotland, Redford Barracks has provided accommodation and services for a number of Regiments which have been involved in the defence of the United Kingdom over the course of the 20th and 21st centuries, including the Royal Scots Greys.

Statutory address and listed building record revised in 2017 as part of the Redford Barracks Listing Review. Previously listed as Colinton Road, Redford Cavalry Barracks With Officer's Mess, Balaclava House, Guard House, Gates, Gatepiers, Sergeant's Mess, Former Band Block, Education Block, Former Stables, Stores And Other Ancillary Buildings.




Canmore: CANMORE ID 73614


Ordnance Survey (Surveyed 1932, Published 1934), Edinburghshire Sheet 007.02. 25 Inches to the Mile map. Ordnance Survey: Southampton.


National Archives of Scotland, Redford Barracks, Plans, RHP 24415

National Archives of Scotland, Redford Barracks, Plans, RHP 30480

National Archives of Scotland, Redford Barracks, Plans, RHP 42917.

National Archives of Scotland, Redford Barracks, Plans, RHP 42918.

National Archives of Scotland, Redford Barracks, Plans, RHP 42919.

Printed Sources

Douet, J (1998) British Barracks 1600-1914. London: English Heritage.

Gifford, J. et. al. (1988) The Buildings of Scotland: Edinburgh. London: Penguin Books. p.517-8.

The Redford Barracks, Progress of the Works The Scotsman 18 May 1914 p.9.

The Scottish Civic Trust (1983) Historic Buildings at Work. Glasgow: The Scottish Civic Trust. P.143.

Internet Sources

Dictionary of Scottish Architects, Harry Bell Measures, [accessed 10/01/2017].

House of Commons Questions, 10 December 1900. [accessed 22/02/2017].

Other Information

Further information courtesy of owners, 2016.

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Row of stable blocks to northeast of Redford cavalry barracks block, Colinton Road, Edinburgh, during daytime on cloudy day.
Redford cavalry barracks block, Colinton Road, Edinburgh, entrance elevation to northwest, during daytime on dull day with parade ground in foreground.



Printed: 29/09/2022 08:01