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- Category: A
- Date Added: 13/01/1966
- Local Authority: Edinburgh
- Planning Authority: Edinburgh
- Burgh: Edinburgh
National Grid Reference
- NGR: NT 25445 74014
- Coordinates: 325445, 674014
David Rhind, 1846-7; internal alterations by Sydney Mitchell, 1885. Massive former bank in form of Graeco-Roman temple with apsidal-ended banking hall to rear. Polished cream sandstone ashlar (stonecleaned). 2-storey on raised basement front block, 7 bays broad by 6 bays deep, with steps to fluted hexastyle Corinthian portico containing allegorical sculpture in tympanum. Base course; banded rustication at ground; giant order pilasters with stylised Corinthian capitals; full entablature with dentilled cornice and acroteria; balustraded parapet; round-headed windows with architraves at 1st floor.
N (GEORGE STREET) ELEVATION: channelled ashlar; pilasters paired to outer bays; keystones to windows at ground; 1st floor windows with blind balustraded aprons.
E AND W ELEVATIONS: slightly advanced end bays framed by paired pilasters; plain central section.
Rear block of plain droved ashlar with band course between floors;
3 bays deep with banking hall projecting to rear
Timber sash and case 4 horizontal-pane windows; multi-pane to sides. Tall panelled stacks to flanks removed.
INTERIOR: lobby leads to stair hall with columns and apse leading to Greek cross plan banking hall to rear with apsidal end; marble columns substituted for original wood.
GATEWAYS AND BALUSTRADING: front area flanked by elaborate Doric pilastered and corniced ashlar gateways with decorative cast-iron gates; linked to steps by ashlar balustrade and spearhead railings. Further simple gatepiers and railings protect side alleys.
PAVILIONS AND GATEPIERS TO ROSE STREET: added by David Rhind, 1860. Pair of single storey and basement pavilions at corner of site with rusticated long and short quoins, base course and dentilled cornice. Paired arched niches to Rose Street and similar paired blind arches to flanks; windows to inner walls. Piended roofs; grey slates. Linked by cast-iron fleur-de-lys railings with corniced ashlar gatepiers at centre.
LAMP STANDARDS: pair of fluted Doric columns flanking portico each supported on 4 scrolled legs with paw feet; octagonal lamps.
Statement of Special Interest
With the exception of axial buildings at either end of George Street, and the church opposite, the only freestanding building in the first New Town. James Craig's Physician's Hall was acquired by the Commercial Bank for $20,000 in 1843, and the Bank promptly decided to demolish the old hall and build themselves a splendid new headquarters, with an eye firmly on the Royal Bank's office at Dundas House. Recent work on the building has revealed that Craig's basements were certainly reused, and perhaps also that more of his building has survived than was previously assumed; No 14A certainly incorporates some of the original stonework for example. Rhind had been working for the Bank since the 1830s and seems to have been the first choice for their head office; its designs owe something to Playfair's first scheme for the Surgeon's Hall, but also Rhind's own competition entry for the North of Scotland Bank, Aberdeen, of 1839. This featured the central portico, arcaded 1st floor windows with balustraded balconies and giant order pilasters. The sculpture was designed by James Wyatt and executed by Handyside Ritchie, and is an allegory of successful Scottish enterprise; the maquette remains inside the building. As well as vaults and banking hall the building contained a Manager's house. The interior was furnished by Taylor of George Street and decorated in his most lavish manner by DR Hay; this is all now lost. Hay's marbled columns were replaced with the real thing by Sydney Mitchell, and his decoration likewise fell from favour. The Commercial Bank relinquished its name in 1969 on merging, ironically, with the Royal Bank. By 1993 the Bank effectively had three head offices ranged around St Andrews Square (its own, and those of the Commercial Bank and the National Bank), and began rationalising this situation by disposing of No 14 George Street.
APSD. ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS IX p37. BUILDER 1 May & 27 November 1847; 26 December 1885. Richardson MONUMENTAL ARCHITECTURE IN GREAT BRITAIN p84. Gifford, McWilliam and Walker EDINBURGH (1988) pp300-301. Ian Gow ?David Rhind 1808-1883? in THE ARCHITECTURAL OUTSIDERS Roderick Brown ed. London (1985) pp153-171. Drawings in Peddie & Kinnear Collection. Rupert Gunnis DICTIONARY OF BRITISH SCULPTORS 1660-1851 New edition p322.
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