Archibald Elliot, designed 1815, built 1819. Classical building on corner site with symmetrical elevations, 26 bays to Waterloo Place, 4 bays to Leith Street, 4 bays facing Princes Street; 2-storey tetrastyle Ionic portico to 1st floor facing Princes Street (see Notes); 3 storeys to Waterloo Place and Leith Street (attic floors to advanced pavilions); 4-storey substructure. Polished ashlar (some sections painted to ground floor), rubble to rear. Slightly advanced base course; cill band to 1st floor, dividing band between 1st and 2nd floors; eaves course and cornice; balustraded parapet. Giant pilasters dividing bays to 1st floors of advanced pavilions. Round arched openings to ground floor; recessed aprons to windows. Regularly fenestrated.
S (WATERLOO PLACE) ELEVATION: long palace range with advanced pavilions to centre, outer right and left (3 bays to left, 3 bays to right and 6 bays to centre).
W ELEVATION: slightly advanced 3-bay pavilion to right with fluted giant Ionic columns at 1st floor supporting pediment. Single bay to left with door to ground floor.
Predominantly 12-pane glazing to upper floors; 9 pane upper sashes and 4-pane lower in timber sash-and-case windows to ground floor to Waterloo Place, modern glazing to Leith Walk. Platform roofs; grey slate. Corniced stone stacks situated at wallheads to each side of advanced pavilions.
INTERIOR OF WATERLOO BUFFET: Edwardian decorative scheme. High compartmented ceiling to ground floor room with deeply moulded cornice and scrolled brackets with foliate decoration. Timber boarding to dado height. Timber panelled shallow U-shaped counter with reeded pilasters. Ceiling-height gantry with central pointed and flanking segmental-arched pediments and mirrors behind slender turned columns; decorative cornice with fretted edge; spirit casks. Access to upper floor from separate outer door (and through bar) via timber stair to lounge with long timber bar counter with decorative arched panelling and two semi-circular bowed projections.
Statement of Special Interest
Part of an 'A' Group with Nos 6-20 Waterloo Place, Nos 1-29 Waterloo Place, Waverleygate, Regent Bridge, Register House, Balmoral Hotel and 5-43 Leith Street. The paired porticos of the west facing elevations of Waterloo Place are a highly significant element of the vista up Princes Street towards Calton Hill and the east. They were designed to create the effect of a prestigious triumphal exit, the effect of which is enhanced by the consistent grandeur of the palace-fronts lining both sides of Waterloo Place itself. Waterloo Place is also a major example of the Greek Revival work of Archibald Elliot, one of Edinburgh's leading architects in the early 19th century.
The elegance and consistent design of the scheme of buildings which line both sides of Waterloo Place are the result of an ambitious scheme to create a more direct and convenient access route at the east end of Princes Street. A plan to form an access to Calton Hill from the east end of Princes Street had been suggested as early as 1790 (probably by John Paterson, Robert Adam's clerk of works). However, at the time it was thought to be impracticable due to the difficulties of gaining permission to disturb the Calton Burying Ground, and the expense involved in acquiring and demolishing the properties which stood on the new route, especially those which formed a line across the east end of Princes Street.
By 1813, two major new developments made the new route a viable necessity. Firstly, in 1811-12, plans had begun to be formed for the construction of a magnificent New Town to the east, the centre piece of which was to be a development on the east side of Calton Hill. Secondly, in 1814, an Act was passed which designated the south slopes of Calton Hill as the location of the new national gaol. Access to Calton Hill at this time was circuitous and difficult, culminating in the steep, narrow, winding street also named Calton Hill.
Acts of 1813 and 1814 appointed commissioners to oversee the construction of the new bridge and road over the Low Calton ravine, and instructed the acquisition of the necessary properties and the intersection of the Calton Burying Ground. In January 1815 Robert Stevenson was appointed as engineer for the scheme. By December 1815, Archibald Elliot's designs for the buildings and bridge had been chosen over those of Gillespie Graham and Crichton, and Elliot was appointed as architect for the scheme. Stevenson himself had submitted a report which stressed the desirability of retaining the spectacular views to the north and south which would be gained from the bridge. Elliot's final design accorded with Stevenson's views; no properties were built on the bridge itself. The contract for the bridge was signed in the summer of 1816, and construction duly commenced. Feuing of the building plots began in July 1817, and later in the year a Mr Peter Lorimer bought all the lots. This ensured the consistent and faithful execution of Elliot's scheme.
Designed to provide commercial/retail space at ground floor and residential accommodation above, the buildings at 1-21 Waterloo Place are now mostly in commercial and office use. By the later 19th century, 3-7 Waterloo Place had become a public house, and is still in use as such. Around the same period, Nos 15-19 were in use as a Temperance Hotel.
The Waterloo Buffet is a small bar but has notable plasterwork and a fine high gantry.
In the mid-19th century No 3 Waterloo Place was run as a hotel and the adjacent shop at No 5 was a confectioner's. In about 1864 William Sutherland, wine and spirit merchant, had acquired the property and his business was successful enough to enable him to live in the New Town. From at least the early 1880s George Stewart, also a wine and spirit merchant, ran the business. By 1889 Malcolm Urquhart had taken it over and he remained there in business until the early years of the 20th century. He was probably responsible for the appearance of the pub as we see it today, extending the public house to include number 7 as well as 3 and 5 which were run as the bar during Stewart's tenancy, and re-fitting the interior.
No architect has yet been identified for the Edwardian refitting of the pub as the Dean of Guild plans are missing.
List description updated as part of the Public Houses Thematic Study 2007-08.