Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing 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.

1 GILMERTON ROAD, LIBERTON BANK HOUSELB47155

Status: Designated

Documents

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Summary

Category
C
Date Added
24/05/2000
Local Authority
Edinburgh
Planning Authority
Edinburgh
Burgh
Edinburgh
NGR
NT 27206 70876
Coordinates
327206, 670876

Description

Late 18th century with later alterations and additions. Single storey with attic, 3-bay rectangular-plan traditional house. Sandstone and red sandstone rubble with droved sandstone dressings; quoins and long and short surrounds; coped skews; modern box dormers.

E (FRONT) ELEVATION: symmetrical; infilled doorway to centre at ground; evidence of gabled entrance porch addition visible, including low rendered brick wall in front of doorway; bipartite windows with block cills to flanking bays. Box dormers to all bays at roof, with slate aprons to central one.

N (SIDE) ELEVATION: 3-bay; corrugated-iron roof to lean-to porch at ground; single window to centre, with block cill; infilled doorways with wooden lintels to bays flanking; pair of windows to 1st floor above.

S (SIDE) ELEVATION: 2-bay; widely spaced infilled doorways at ground; closely spaced windows with block cills to 1st floor.

W (REAR) ELEVATION: irregularly fenestrated; box dormer to roof at left; coped rubble wall adjoining at right.

Window openings and doorways blocked, dormers boarded; grey slate roof with leaded ridge; coped gablehead stacks with moulded cylindrical cans; cast-iron gutters, downpipes missing.

INTERIOR: Probably original fielded 6-panelled doors; later 19th century fireplaces to bedrooms; remains of decorative painted scheme and canvas floorcloth surrounds to NE and S bedrooms; remains of hand - printed wallpaper and decorative schemes, particularly to hall, stairs and landing, probably mid to later 19th century; original floorboards; hand-tooled rafters and broad sarking boards to roof; alterations include insertion of box-dormers, new staircase, re - plastering and replacement / new cornices to several rooms.

Statement of Special Interest

18th century house, inhabited until the early 1990s. Liberton Bank House is of special historic interest owing to its association with two important Scots, Arthur Conan Doyle and Mary Burton.

Conan Doyle stayed at Liberton Bank House for a time in the mid-late 1860s, having been sent there - according to Owen Dudley Edwards, author of the standard Conan Doyle biography - to protect him from the negative influences of his alcoholic father and, no doubt, to facilitate his attendance at the nearby Newington Academy at 8 Arniston Place. He spent the years between the ages of seven and nine, 1866 and 1868, at this school, run by James M'Lauchlan, and the Evening Dispatch of 28 September 1900 refers to his 'lively recollections' of its headmaster.

Concrete evidence of Conan Doyle's stay exists in the form of a book, Travels in the Interior of Africa by Mungo Park, inscribed: 'Arthur Conan Doyle / With Papa's and Mama's / love and best wishes / New Year's day 1866 / Liberton Bank'. This is further substantiated by reference, made by the author's youngest son, Adrian (then custodian of the Conan Doyle MSS, which are now, and have been for several decades, inaccessible), in The True Conan Doyle (1946), to his father's boyhood in the 'modest domicile of Liberton Bank'.

At Liberton Bank he was in the care of Mary Burton, tenant of the house for more than fifty years, from 1844-1898. Mary Burton was a trailblazing educational and social reformer, the first woman Governor of Heriot-Watt College and a leading advocate of women's suffrage. Her efforts in the field of educational equality and access led her to bequeath, with foresight, a sum towards the campaign "for the admission of women to sit as members of parliament", either at Westminster or in a Scottish Parliament. She was sister of the lawyer and historian, John Hill Burton, with whose son, William K Burton, Conan Doyle became great friends whilst living in the Bank House. This friendship had significance for several of the writer's stories, mostly by virtue of Burton's subsequent career as an engineer: in this capacity he was in a position to provide background information for 'The Engineer's Thumb', and his tenure of an academic post in that subject in Japan offered a convenient source on which Conan Doyle could draw when composing 'Jelland's Voyage'. His debt to his old friend is most openly acknowledged in the dedication to 'The Firm of Girdlestone'.

Mary Burton's strong attachment to Liberton Bank House was - clearly evinced in the interview in The Young Woman magazine. Burton's direct association with the property together with the association of Conan Doyle at a time when he was writing his first story (about a man and a tiger), together, give the house its unique status.

The category of listing recognises the modest architectural interest and altered state of the house in conjunction with its association with two of Edinburgh's most famous offspring.

References

Bibliography

John Hill Burton papers (National Library of Scotland), MS.9416, No 136; PO Directories 1844-98; Censuses 1871 (head of family recorded as absent), 1881; Sarah Tooley, 'A Slum Landlady: an Interview with Miss Mary Hill Burton' in THE YOUNG WOMAN magazine, vol IV, 1895-96, pp 164-168; EDINBURGH EVENING DISPATCH, 28 September 1900; Adrian Conan Doyle, THE TRUE CONAN DOYLE (1946), p9; Owen Dudley Edwards, THE QUEST FOR SHERLOCK HOLMES: A BIOGRAPHICAL STUDY OF ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE (1983), pp 57-58, 359. Information courtesy of Heriot Watt University (Mary Burton).

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. 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 www.historicenvironment.scot/advice-and-support. You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at designations@hes.scot.

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