Listed Building

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site only. All other information in the record is not statutory.


Status: Designated


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Date Added
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NT 26340 74895
326340, 674895


H Ramsay Taylor, 1902. Scottish Renaissance and Jacobean collegiate style library and concert hall with corner turret, on prominent site at junction of McDonald Road and Leith Walk. Squared and snecked pink sandstone rubble with polished ashlar to principal elevations. Base and cill courses; cornice over ground floor; eaves cornice; stone mullions and transoms; chamfered reveals; Ionic capitals with thistle detail to pilasters and columns at ground floor; carved strapwork dormerheads.

NE (McDONALD ROAD) ELEVATION: 8-bay, excluding corner turret (see below). Advanced corniced porch in 2nd bay; columns flanking segmental-arched doorway with vermiculated bands and voussoirs; deep-set 2-leaf panelled door; pilasters clasping angle to left; stylized parapet; 4-light window at 1st floor behind. Stair window flanked by pilasters; pyramidal roof; bartizan flanking to right. Single storey canted bay to outer right; 2-leaf panelled door to centre light. Large multi-sectioned windows in remaining bays, divided by pilasters. Pilasters forming apron to dormerheaded attic window in 1st bay.

CORNER TURRET: 3-stage with conical roof; polygonal at ground, corbelled to ground at 1st floor; 3 lights to each stage; bracketted parapet.

SE (LEITH WALK) ELEVATION: 6-bay. Secondary doorway in advanced pavilion to outer left; panelled door 4-light window above and at 1st floor; single window at 2nd floor; crenellated parapet to pavilion roof. Large multi-sectioned windows in remaining bays at ground, divided by pilasters. Strapwork pediments to 1st floor windows in advanced and crowstepped gabled 4th and 5th bays.

Plate glass fixed windows at ground; small-pane sash and case windows to upper floors. Grey slate roof; corniced gablehead and ridge stacks.

INTERIOR: decorative plaster cornices; braced timber roofs to lower library and Nelson Hall. carved Jacobean corbels and pendants; fluted cast-iron columns with floral capitals to arcades; glazed panelled doors and dados; timber newels, balusters and handrails; steel-framed roof to upper library.

Statement of Special Interest

Like a number of Edinburgh libraries, McDonald Road Library was commissioned by the Thomas Nelson Trustees. The adjoining Nelson Hall remains in use as a concert hall, as it was originally designed. Upgraded 13.7.93.



Dean of Guild 31.10.1901; George Washington Browne THE PLANNING OF PUBLIC LIBRARIES (nd); Gifford et al. EDINBURGH (1984), p426.

About Listed Buildings

Listing is the way that a building or structure of special architectural or historic interest is recognised by law through the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The statutory listing address is the legal part of the listing. The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

Listing covers both the exterior and the interior. Listing can cover structures not mentioned which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The planning authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. For information about curtilage see Since 1 October 2015 we have been able to exclude items from a listing. 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 Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. 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 current legislation.

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Printed: 17/11/2018 06:34