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
100000019 - (see Notes)
Date Added
Supplementary Information Updated
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NT 25575 73629
325575, 673629


John Lessels 1855-6 (Melville Crescent splayed elevation) linking to earlier Robert Brown end terrace blocks of 1814 fronting 43 Melville Street and 19 Walker Street. All 3-storey and basement unified façade of classical townhouses with main-door and common stair flats behind; oversailing platts. Basement area to street including some vaulted cellars and retaining walls. Sandstone ashlar, channelled at ground floor. Banded base course; banded cill and string courses at 1st floor; banded cill course at 2nd floor. Stepped parapets with balustrades in between. Doorway in round arched surround with fanlight and narrow sidelights. Cast-iron balconies on foliate brackets at 1st floor. Decorative cast-iron arches, with lamp holder to Melville Street.

S (MELVILLE CRESCENT) ELEVATION: symmetrical, 9 bays. Advanced and pilastered central 3 bays and single end bays. Recessed round arched surrounds to windows at centre on ground floor. Architraved bracketed and corniced 1st floor windows.

SE (MELVILLE STREET) AND W (WALKER STREET) ELEVATIONS: symmetrical 5 bays. Advanced flanking bays and recessed centre. Sandstone ashlar, vermiculated at basement. Radial glazing to fanlight at Walker Street. Recessed round arched surrounds to advanced bays at ground floor. Architraved bracketed and corniced surrounds at 1st floor, pedimented to centre.

Predominantly 12-pane windows in timber sash and case with some later plate glass in timber sash and case. Double pitch M-section roof; grey slates. Corniced ashlar gable end and ridge stacks with modern clay cans. Cast-iron railings on ashlar coping stone edging basement recess.

INTERIOR: interior typified by highly decorative classical scheme with detailed cornicing, converted for later office and residential use (2008).

ARCHED LAMP HOLDERS: large ornate cast-iron arches above entrance platt to Melville Street with lampholder to centre; some with glass bell-jar shades. Coiled cast-iron serpent lamp snuffers to each side of archway.

Statement of Special Interest

4, 5, 6 Melville Crescent forms an A group with 1, 2, 3 and 7 - 12 Melville Crescent, Melville Memorial and the whole of Melville Street (see separate listings). Melville Crescent is a fine example of late Georgian street urban architecture and planning, serving as the centrepiece of the early 19th century Walker Estate development. It still forms a significant and imposing diagonal square. The splayed corners also serve to articulate the intersection with Walker Street, and give a sense of space and drama to the two streets. It is a key feature of the whole of the Western New Town plan and articulates the space in a well-ordered understated classical design. Melville Crescent contained the highest class residential housing in the whole scheme. It was executed by John Lessels to a grand design.

John Lessels retained much of the original 1814 design for the crescent by Robert Brown. The OS survey of 1852 also shows an alternative street layout with a circular garden in the centre of the square. Brown was experienced in town planning, and he had already designed several other urban schemes, including between 1810 and 1830 laying out streets in Portobello on land belonging to the Marques of Abercorn. His other notable works include Newington and St.Leonard's church (now The Queen's Hall) and the rearrangement of the interiors for Yester House on behalf of the Marques of Tweeddale. Robert Brown worked on a number of smaller projects in the New Town but the cohesive planning of the Walker estate is amongst one of the best examples of his work.

John Lessels secured the control over the Walker Estate in 1850, only 4 years after he had set up practice on his own in 1846. He later went on to work for the City Improvement Trust in Edinburgh, and gained a wide experience of residential design with further designs in both the old and new towns of Edinburgh as well as some large commissions such as significant alterations to George Watson's Hospital.

(List description revised 2009 as part of re-survey.)



John Wood, Plan of the City of Edinburgh, including all the latest and intended improvements (1823); Ordnance Survey, Sheet 34 Edinburgh and Environs, (1852); Ordnance Survey, Large Scale Town Plan, (1893 - 94); J Gifford, C McWilliam, D M Walker, The Buildings of Scotland: Edinburgh (1988) p. 375; Youngson, The Making of Classical Edinburgh, (1988) p. 216; West End Community Trust, Edinburgh's West End, A Short History, (1984).

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


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Printed: 30/11/2022 20:32