William H Playfair, designed 1822. Classical range of terraced houses with Greek Doric doorpieces of fluted engaged columns supporting entablature; 2-storey and basement, 33-bay principal elevation (3 bays per house). Polished ashlar (painted to No 16,18, and 26; painted doorpieces); droved ashlar to basement (painted to Nos 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, and 18); squared coursed rubble, with droved dressings to rear. Base course; cill band to ground floor; cill band to 1st floor; continuous wrought iron balcony (trellis pattern with Greek key border) with scrolled brackets to 1st floor; eaves cornice; blocking course. Regular fenestration; sunk panelled aprons to ground floor; painted architraves to ground and 1st floors (not painted to Nos 20, 22 , 24 and 26 ).
SE (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: steps leading down to sunk basement area from left; to basement, timber-panelled door (out of character doors to Nos 6, 10, 12, 14, 20, 24, 26) with 4-light letterbox fanlight (3-light to Nos 18 and 20; plate glass to No 22; blocked to Nos 10 and 14) to centre bay (to right bay to No 26) to basement; window to left and right bays; area under platt blocked in by wall at Nos 10, 12 and 14; out of character alteration to all basement openings to No 16. To right bay to ground floor, steps and platt overarching basement recess leading to timber-panelled door (2-leaf timber-panelled door to No 22; out of character timber and glazed doors to Nos 8, 10 and 12; doorway built up to form window at Nos 14, 18 and 20) with letterbox fanlight (with triple circle glazing pattern to Nos 8, 22 and 26; 2 vertical astragals to No 24);
GLAZING etc: predominantly 12- pane glazing in timber sash and case windows; plate glass in timber sash and case to ground and 1st floors to Nos 6, 10, 14, 16 and right bay and bottom sash to centre and left bay to ground floor to No18; 4 pane glazing to right bay to ground floor to No 14; plate glass in fixed timber top sash and 2 side hung timber casements below to No 8; out of character glazing to basement to No 16 and to right bay to basement to Nos 10 and 12. Double-pitch roof; graded grey slate. 6 corniced ashlar mutual ridge stacks preceded by linked individual octagonal flues; 4 corniced, rendered mutual ridge stacks; mixture of octagonal and circular cans. Decorative cast-iron rain water hoppers to Nos 8 and 18.
RAILINGS: edging basement recess and platt, cast-iron railings with spear-head and pine cone finials, spear-headed dog bars and circle patterned top border. To Nos 14, 18 and 20, modern railings blocking access to platt.
INTERIORS: 10 Windsor Street: to ground floor; to former lobby, compartmented ceiling, good plasterwork including frieze; to stairs: stone stairs with cast-iron balusters, cupola blocked off. 12 Windsor Street: to ground floor; to lobby (subdivided), round-headed niche to right, compartmented ceiling, good plasterwork; to former dining room, columned black slate chimneypiece; stairs have been removed. 16 Windsor Street: to ground floor; to former lobby, round-headed niche to right, pilastered opening to stair hall, compartmented ceiling, good plasterwork; to stairs and stair hall, stone stairs with cast-iron balusters, cupola blocked off, good plasterwork and classical plaque to ground floor. 18 Windsor Street: stone stairs with cast-iron balusters. 26 Windsor Street: to ground floor; to lobby, geometric and encaustic tiled floor, round-headed niche to right, pilastered timber screen with leaded and coloured glazing; compartmented ceiling, good plasterwork; to former dining room, timber chimneypiece, good plasterwork including ceiling rose; to rear room (S), classical black slate chimneypiece, good plasterwork; to stairs and stair hall: stone stairs with cast-iron balusters, oval cupola in sail-vaulted ceiling, good plasterwork.
Statement of Special Interest
Part of the Calton A-Group.
Originally built as private townhouses, the majority of 6-26 Windsor Street is now in use as hotels or office accommodation.
6-26 Windsor Street forms part of Playfair's Eastern New Town (or Calton) scheme, and as such is an important example of the work of one of Scotland's leading early 19th century architects. Playfair was one of the major driving forces of the Greek Revival in Edinburgh at this time, and his public commissions such as the National Monument, the Royal Institution and the National Gallery (see separate listings) gave strength to Edinburgh's reputation as the Athens as the North. The Calton Scheme was one of his few domestic commissions, and the variety of designs, different for each street, demonstrate Playfair's expertise with the Grecian style and his characteristic punctilious attention to detail. The railings are important as their design features distinctive elements which Playfair repeated in large areas of the Calton scheme.
The origins of this new town, which was to occupy the east end of Calton Hill and lands to the north of it on the ground between Easter Road and Leith Walk, lie in a 'joint plan for building' which three principal feuars (Heriot's Hospital, Trinity Hospital and Mr Allan of Hillside) entered into in 1811. In 1812 a competition was advertised for plans for laying out the grounds in question. Thirty-two plans were received, displayed and reported on by a variety of people, including eight architects. Eventually, it was decided that none of the plans was suitable. However, it was a more general report by William Stark (who died shortly after submitting it) which caught the attention of the Commissioners and formed the basis of the final scheme. Stark's central argument stressed the importance of planning around the natural contours and features of the land rather than imposing formal, symmetrical street plans upon it. After several years of little or no progress, in 1818 the Commissioners finally selected William Henry Playfair, who in his early years had been associated with Stark, to plan a scheme following Stark's Picturesque ideals.
The resulting scheme, presented to the Commissioners in 1819, preserved the view of and from Calton Hill by the creation of a limited development of three single sided terraces on the hill itself. These looked over a huge radial street pattern, centred on the gardens of Hillside Crescent, on the land to the north. The feuing of these lower lands started well, with Elm Row, Leopold Place, Windsor Street and the west side of Hillside Crescent being built fairly swiftly. However, demand for the feus faltered severely, due to the growing popularity of new properties being built to the west of the New Town. The fate of the Calton scheme was sealed in 1838, when it was decided that feuars should pay poor-rates to both Edinburgh and Leith. This virtually halted development for the next thirty years. The result of all these problems was that very little of Playfair's original scheme was ever built. When building resumed in the 1880s, some of Playfair's original street lines were adhered to, as was the case with Hillside Crescent, and in others such as Brunton Place, Brunswick Street, Hillside Street (originally to be a longer street called Hopeton Street), and Wellington Street (also curtailed). However, due to piecemeal residential, industrial and transport developments immediately to the north, it would have been impossible to further follow Playfair's original layout, even if this had been considered desirable.