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.


Date Added
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NT 26097 73420
326097, 673420


Robert Morham, 1885-7; converted to studios, gallery and office accommodation, 2009. Public baths in Italianate style, rock-faced ashlar. 2-storey elevation to Infirmary Street in 3 ranges inner (entrance) range banded arcaded, 3 bays at ground, 5 lights at 1st floor, broad-eaved piended roof with square lantern over; small-paned glazing. Rock-faced W range to left of principal block, basement with tiny lights, divided above in to 6 bays by giant pilasters, pilastered 2-light openings to bays at upper level, rectangular glazed section to new 2nd floor level. Original plain low range to E with new larger glazed openings at ground floor and 2-storey metal clad and glazed box section above; tall brick stack behind, deeply set back from street, and with polychromy. Further deep range to north, formerly containing baths, is piend-roofed with rooflights, ventilators set in flanks below ridge; slate roofs.

INTERIOR: seen 2013. Plan of rectangular swimming pool retained in 2009 conversion, retaining original gallery and open-timbered roof supported on tiers of cast-iron columns.

Statement of Special Interest

Infirmary Street Baths is a good example of a late 19th century public baths, designed in a solid Italianate classical style which has now been altered to form a modern art gallery, studio and office accommodation. The building is a significant addition to its streetscape. The Infirmary Street Baths were the first public baths opened in Edinburgh in 1887.

Swimming clubs and bath houses were established in Scotland from the 1850s following the enactment of the 1846 Act to Encourage the Establishment of Public Baths and Wash-houses, which was established to improve general public health with access for all classes of citizen. With the rapid expansion of urban population, often living and working in unsanitary conditions, bath and wash houses were seen as essential public services. The Act, which affected the entirety of Britain, encouraged local authorities to open up these facilities in areas of dense population. While men and women did not mix at these facilities, women would have had their own separate entrance, however they would have to attend at certain times when the male pools were not in use. It would not be until the 1870s when separate ladies pools were being considered in bath and wash house design. These bath and wash houses soon started to cater for recreational swimming rather than washing and became a hugely popular social past time during the 20th century.

William Harley was the first to offer indoor baths in Glasgow, at Willowbank in 1804. Swimming became widely popular as a sport during the late 19th century as more residences in the UK gained access to mains water supply and could therefore wash and bath at home.

Robert Morham was an Edinburgh architect, first articled to David Rhind remaining with him for five years before transferring to the office of David Bryce (circa 1859). About 1862 he moved to London to widen his experience and spent four years with William Eden Nesfield, although there is little sign of his influence in his architecture. In 1866 he returned to Edinburgh as principal assistant to David Cousin and was briefly his partner until Cousin's retirement in 1873. He then succeeded Cousin as City Superintendent of Works.

The Infirmary Street Baths were in continuous use until the 1990s when they fell into disrepair. Following a £12million two year refurbishment programme completed in 2009, the building became home to the new Dovecot Studios a centre for excellence in tapestry making. The new building is also home to the Dovecot Foundation which supports the work of the studios and a programme of cross-discipline exhibitions and events.

List description updated as part of the sporting buildings thematic study (2012-13).



Architectural drawings (1885-1891) in RCAHMS. Edinburgh Old Town Study. J Gifford, C McWilliam, D Walker The Buildings of Scotland: Edinburgh (1988) p 182. Dictionary of Scottish Architects (accessed 2013). Dovecot Studios website: (2013).

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.

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Printed: 28/11/2022 18:53