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


Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Group Category Details
100000020 - See Notes
Date Added
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NT 26056 73593
326056, 673593


David Clunas (adapting a design by David Cousin and John Lessels - see Notes). 1870-71. Pair of 4-storey and gabled attic, 5 bay tenements with 17th century revival detailing, stepped to sloping ground and forming part of a planned run on E side of Blackfriars Street. Squared and snecked rubble with ashlar dressings. Chamfered window margins. Painted shop fronts to ground; string course at 1st floor, corbel table above 2nd floor. NW corner to Skinners Close canted at ground and corbelled-out at each floor above. Bipartite window to 4th-storey outer left bay with strapwork pediment. Some crowstepped gables.

Plate glass timber sash and case windows. Graded, grey Scottish slate. Coped end and wall-head gable stacks. Cast-iron rainwater goods.

Statement of Special Interest

No 45-51 Blackfriars Street is a good example of early City Improvement Act construction and tenement design. The steep pitches and variations of composition at attic and dormer level reflect the diversified roof-lines of the Canongate and Old Town in general and also provide streetscape interest. The interest of the individual tenements is greatly increased by their group value as a significant part of the Old Town's evolution in the 2nd half of the 19th century.

David Clunas, famed for his early experiments with mass-concrete construction, adapted this block and also Nos 11-15 and Nos 23-29 (see separate listings), following Cousin and Lessels' designs. John Lessels (1809-1883), who came from a family of successful Edinburgh builder-architects, was appointed joint architect to the City Improvement Trust in 1866 along with David Cousin, the City Architect. In response to the Improvement Act of 1867, they laid out plans for St Mary Street, Blackfriars Street, Jeffrey Street and Chambers Street. The architecture 'reflected Cousin's transition from pure Italian Renaissance to a mid Victorian freestyle also evident in his later bank-houses' (Dictionary of Scottish Architects).

Formerly known as Blackfriars Wynd, the E side was demolished in 1867 under the Improvement Act, the roadway widened and subsequently renamed Blackfriars Street as part of the first wave of sanitary improvements within the Old Town. Throughout the 19th Century the Old Town's prosperity declined as large sections of the nobility and middle classes moved out of the area in favour of the grandeur and improved facilities of Edinburgh's New Town. The Improvement Act of 1867 made efforts to address this, responding early on with large-scale slum clearance and redevelopment of entire street frontages. The Act involved the large-scale clearance, on health grounds, of 34 selected areas of the Old Town. The new buildings were intended for workers and artisans.

Part of B-Group comprising 1-67 (Odd Nos) Blackfriars Street (see separate listings). Category changed from C(S) to B (1992). List description revised as part of Edinburgh Holyrood Ward Resurvey (2007/08).



John Gifford et al, Buildings of Scotland - Edinburgh, (1991) p220; E. Patricia Dennison, Holyrood and Canongate ' A Thousand Years of History, (2005) p.150; Dictionary of Scottish Architects, (accessed 10.05.2007)

About Listed Buildings

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site which is known as the statutory address. Other than the name or address of a listed building, further details are provided for information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland does not accept any liability for any loss or damage suffered as a consequence of inaccuracies in the information provided. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing. Even if a number or name is missing from a listing address it will still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing also applies to buildings or structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage (or land) of the listed building as long as they were erected before 1 July 1948.

While Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating listed buildings, the planning authority is responsible for determining what is covered by the listing, including what is listed through curtilage. However, for listed buildings designated or for listings amended from 1 October 2015, legal exclusions to the listing may apply.

If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the 1997 Act. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect subsequent legislation.

Listed building consent is required for changes to a listed building which affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. The relevant planning authority is the point of contact for applications for listed building consent.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at


There are no images available for this record, you may want to check Canmore for images relating to 45-51 (ODD NOS) BLACKFRIARS STREET

There are no images available for this record.

Search Canmore

Printed: 26/05/2024 22:50