Archibald Elliot, designed 1815, built 1819. Classical building with symmetrical elevations, 22 bays to Waterloo Place, 3 storeys (attic floors to advanced pavilions); 4-storey substructure. Polished ashlar. 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 and right, 6 bays to centre). Greek Doric doorpieces (later additions) at 7th and 19th bays from left.
E ELEVATION: only visible from 1st floor upwards due to high ground level of Old Calton Burying Ground, adjoining (see separate List description). Later extension block to right of original elevation.
GLAZING etc: predominantly 9-pane glazing to attic floor, 12-pane to 2nd floor (15-pane at pavilions), 18-pane to 1st floor; 9 pane upper sashes and 4-pane lower in timber sash-and-case windows to ground floor. Platform roofs; grey slate. Corniced ashlar stacks to wallheads to either side of advanced pavilions.
INTERIOR: much altered to create office accommodation but some details remain: some elaborate classical ceiling cornicing remains to ground floor. To ground floor of No.23, 2 Ionic columns in foyer area; architraved windows with timber-panelled ingoes and soffits; classical timber chimneypiece with mirrored overmantel; marble chimneypiece with tiled insert and classical grate; consoled timber fireplace. Stained glass fanlight to inner door of No. 25.
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 consistent design and grandeur of the palace-fronts lining both sides of Waterloo Place was conceived to enhance and reinforce the effect of a prestigious triumphal exit created by the paired porticos at the west end of Waterloo Place. The resulting buildings form a highly significant element of the vista up Princes Street towards Calton Hill and the east. 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.
Elliot designed No. 23 for the Edinburgh Waterloo Tavern and Hotel Company (created in 1818). It was the first large purpose built hotel in Edinburgh, capable of accommodating more than fifty people and advertised as an establishment "where Strangers could see the manners of the people, and mix with the Society of the place." It featured a huge 'Great Room' in the rear wing, three storeys high and Ionic-columned. In the later part of the 19th century this hall was in use as an operetta house, and in 1912 was remodelled and divided into 3 floors creating general offices and stores for the North British Railway Company.
The original use of Nos 25-27 is unclear, but the building underwent alterations in 1889, and again in 1912, as the offices of the Edinburgh and Leith Corporation Gas Commissioners. The 1912 alterations included the extension at the E elevation, a link to new offices on Calton Hill and the installation of a lift in the main stairwell. The present doorpiece was also added at this time. The building is still used as offices.
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 of 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.