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

Redford Infantry Barracks Block, excluding 289 and 291 Colinton Road, Colinton Road, EdinburghLB49560

Status: Designated


Where documents include maps, the use of this data is subject to terms and conditions (


Group Category Details
100000020 - See Notes
Date Added
Last Date Amended
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NT 22232 69277
322232, 669277


A 4-storey, 57-bay, square, double-courtyard plan Infantry Barracks block designed by Harry B Measures, and built between 1909-1915. The building is of dark, coursed rock-faced rubble with pale ashlar dressings and has channelled ashlar to the ground floor. There is a base course, band courses to all floors and an eaves course. The windows have projecting cills. The courtyard elevations are harled.

The principal elevation is to the northwest and has a central, advanced 5-bay section with triple arcaded balconies and octagonal copper-domed turrets. Each of the long flanking wings has two, 2-bay advanced sections with semicircular pediments and advanced dormered roofs. The penultimate bays to each wing are advanced 3-bay gabled sections with semicircular pedimented windows to gable apexes. The ground floor has alternating wide and narrow round-arched, key-blocked windows and doors.

The principal entrance is in the advanced 5-bay section through a large depressed arch and with a slightly recessed 3-bay, 3-storey section above with arcaded balconies. There is a bell-cast, leaded half-roof above the balconies with a large pediment-gable rising behind which has a clock. The 2-bay outer sections to the advanced section are topped by octagonal copper-domed lanterns with tall round-arched windows and flanking mini-turrets.

The side elevations have 2 advanced bays with arcaded balconies.

There is a single-storey section to the rear which is irregularly fenestrated and has later alterations and includes a central, tall, tapered and corniced chimney. Within the courtyard there are linking, single-storey buildings.

The windows are predominantly timber sash and case windows with small pane glazing to the upper sashes and 2-pane glazing in the lower sashes. There are timber casement windows to the ground floor. There are grey graded slates and raised skews to the roof.

The interior was seen in 2016. There are several stone, dog-leg staircases with cast iron railings to all floors. The upper storeys have been converted to small, 4-person rooms (1980-90). The ground floor has retained some timber skirting boards and picture rails to the corridors. There is a canteen area within the courtyard which has part-fluted, Ionic iron columns and a raised area with a dentilled proscenium arch.

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing: 289 and 291 Colinton Road.

Statement of Special Interest

Dating from 1911-15, the infantry barracks block at Redford is the probably the finest building of its type in Scotland. It is the largest building of its type in the country and contains a wealth of architectural detailing, including a distinctive, balconied entrance. It is one of the key buildings in a complex of infantry and cavalry buildings which make up the extensive Redford barracks and the complex as a whole was the pinnacle of military building prior to the First World War. The building is little altered to its exterior and gives an important and rare insight to the way the military was organized at the beginning of the 20th century.

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing: 289 and 291 Colinton Road.

Age and Rarity

Redford infantry barracks was built to alleviate cramped military accommodation at Edinburgh Castle. As the cavalry troops based in Edinburgh were also housed in poor conditions at Piershill, the decision was taken by the Government to build a new substantial complex incorporating barracks for both infantry and cavalry and including all the necessary associated buildings on the same site at Redford. Although on the same extensive site, the cavalry barracks (located to the east) and infantry barracks (located to the west) were administered separately. Redford barracks was the largest barracks to be built in Scotland since Fort George in Inverness (1748-1769, Scheduled Monument SM6692). The Redford barracks was the most advanced of its type in Britain at the time and the best equipped, incorporating all the latest developments in training and accommodation. They reflect the military confidence of Britain before the start of the First World War. The complex was the first to include living, dining, baths and recreation facilities for infantry under one roof and when built could accommodate 1000 men. The barrack block was built with an unusual roof construction using concrete beams, to which the slates were nailed directly.

The magnitude of the building programme at Redford was so great that the builders, Colin MacAndrew Ltd, built their own railway to transport materials from the main line at Slateford. The Scotsman in 1914 noted 'there is no point at the extensive field at Redford where building operations are in progress which are not served by either the broad or narrow gauge railways'.

All of the infantry buildings lying to the west of the entire barracks site include, a large barracks block, a guard house with its associated gates and gatepiers, a Commander in Chief's house (Alva House), the Officers' mess and its stables, a former Sergeants' mess, a band block, a gymnasium and a stores building. There were originally married quarters, but these were demolished in the 1990s. The cavalry barracks and all its associated buildings lie to the east of the site.

The upper floors in the barracks block were converted in the 1980s-90s from large, dormitory accommodation to smaller, 4-man units. The barracks block is now only used infrequently as temporary accommodation (2016).

During the last quarter of the 19th century, the expanding British Empire required more personnel for its administration and its security. To help with the recruitment and training of soldiers, the Secretary of State for War, Edward Cardwell, introduced the Military Localisation Bill in 1872, which introduced new recruiting and training centres around Britain. The majority of the architectural design and planning was carried out by the Director of Design, Major H C Sneddon, and a number of standard types of barracks resulted. Local variations were possible, for example at the Cameron Barracks at Inverness, listed at category B (LB35340) where Scots Baronial architectural features are used. During this period the overall planning and layout of a barracks complex changed from a strict symmetry of buildings around a parade ground to placing the various buildings in the most sensible position according to function.

Up until the beginning of the 20th century, all military fortifications, including barracks were the responsibility of the Royal Engineers. This was reviewed from 1902 and as a result, a civilian department was formed in 1904 under the direction of the Director of Barracks Construction which was responsible for War Department buildings. The new director was Harry Measures. Measures had his own ideas about the design of barracks buildings and he instigated the bringing of various functions under the same roof which had previously had separate buildings. His first project was new cavalry barracks at Norwich, which he designed with all the ancillary and recreational functions in the ground floor of the building with residential accommodation above. This was never built but his ideas on design were realised at Redford.

Following the First World War and over the course of the 20th century, the practice of warfare and the organisation of the military changed. Military accommodation was updated and smaller residential units became standard. Horses were replaced by machinery and Redford cavalry barracks, on the same site as the infantry barracks, was amongst the last of its type to be built on such a large scale. Only the Hyde Park barracks in London, built by Sir Basil Spence in 1970 for the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment are comparable in size and scale.

The infantry barracks block at Redford is probably the finest Infantry barracks building in Scotland. It is one of the largest buildings of its type and contains a wealth of architectural detailing which is discussed in more detail below. It is one of the key buildings in a largely intact complex of infantry and cavalry buildings which make up one of the largest barracks sites ever built in Britain. Redford barracks was the pinnacle of military building prior to the First World War and the complex as a whole is a rare survivor.

289 and 291 Colinton Road are not considered to be of special interest in listing terms and are excluded from the listing.

Architectural or Historic Interest


The accommodation to the upper storeys of the barracks block was converted from large dormitories into 4-man units in the 1980s-90s.The stone stairs leading to the upper floors are functional in design and in keeping with a large accommodation building for infantry soldiers. The former canteen has some decorative features in the Ionic columns and the dentilled arch over the platform.

Plan form

The plan form used here of a building with residential accommodation surrounding a courtyard and with a large, adjoining dining area in the centre and service areas at the rear, had been used in other institutional buildings, such as hospitals and poorhouses. It can be seen, for example the Ravenscraig Hospital in Greenock, built as a poorhouse in 1879, (listed at category B, LB51132) and the former City Poorhouse in Edinburgh (listed at category B, LB28970).

Internally, the inclusion of recreation and dining facilities within the one building for all ranks of men living within it was innovative.

Technological excellence or innovation, material or design quality

The infantry barracks block is distinguished by a number of decorative features used, both in the stonework and in the design. The stone used to build the barracks came from Black Pasture and Doddington quarries in Northumberland, which provided stone for a number of buildings in Scotland. The contrast between the smooth blond stone used in the ground floor and the margins with the rock-faced darker stone used in the rest of the building gives the building a characteristic appearance.

A number of design features are incorporated into the building, including the use of gabled sections along the elevations to relieve the long, horizontal facades and the round-arched and small round windows used in the ground and side elevations. The entrance with its twin domed towers and open balconies to the upper floors is very distinctive and creates an imposing entrance.

The scale and size of the building makes it an imposing structure and this monumentality is emphasised by the large open form parade ground in front of the building which enables the whole of the front elevation to be seen at the one time.

Plans of the elevations held at the National Archives of Scotland confirm that the external detailing has been little altered since the barracks were built.

Harry Bell Measures (circa 1862-1940), was based in London and was the first (and only) holder of a new civilian post, Director of Barrack Construction, which was created in 1904 in order to free the Royal Engineers for other, more military, duties. He designed a number of stations for the Central London Railway, several of which survive as current London Underground stations, including Oxford Circus (listed at Grade II). In terms of barracks buildings, however, Douet (1998) suggest that Measures rethought the layout of barracks buildings and 'abandoned the long-entrenched principles of subdivision and separation of the various elements and functions'. Redford Barracks appears to be one of the few barracks sites he completed with his only other large military building the New College at the royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, listed at Grade II (Ref no 1390374).


Redford infantry barracks block is one of the key buildings in a wider complex of military barracks buildings and their ancillaries that make up Redford Barracks. Its size makes it one of the most distinctive buildings on the site and its extent is emphasised by the large open parade square which lies in front of the building.

Some of the earliest buildings in the Redford site, including the married quarters which lay to the east of this building have been demolished and replaced with modern military accommodation. While there have been some later alterations to the group of buildings at the barracks site, the majority of the 1909-1915 buildings remain, however, and the integrity of the site continues to help our understanding of the organisation of the military in the years leading up to the First World War.

The building is situated within the Colinton Conservation Area.

Regional variations

There are no known regional variations.

Close Historical Associations

No close historical associations known at present.

As a major military base in Scotland, Redford barracks has provided accommodation and services for a number of Regiments which have been involved in the defence of the United Kingdom over the course of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Statutory address and listed building record revised in 2017 as part of the Redford Barracks listing review. Previously listed as Colinton Road, Redford Infantry Barracks with Officers' Mess, Alma House, Guard House, Former Band Block, Former Sergeants' Mess, Gates, Gatpiers and other ancillary Buildings.




Canmore: CANMORE ID 141664


Ordnance Survey (Surveyed 1932, Published 1934), Edinburghshire Sheet 007.02. 25 Inches to the Mile map. Ordnance Survey: Southampton.


National Archives of Scotland, Redford Barracks, Plans, RHP42912

National Archives of Scotland, Redford Barracks, Plans, RHP 42913

National Archives of Scotland, Redford Barracks, Plans, RHP 42915.

Printed Sources

Douet, J (1998) British Barracks 1600-1914. London: English Heritage.

Gifford, J. et. al. (1988) The Buildings of Scotland: Edinburgh. London: Penguin Books. p.517-8.

The Redford Barracks, Progress of the Works The Scotsman 18 May 1914 p.9.

The Scottish Civic Trust (1983) Historic Buildings at Work. Glasgow: The Scottish Civic Trust. P.143.

Internet Sources

Dictionary of Scottish Architects, Harry Bell Measures, [accessed 10/01/2017].

Other Information

Further information courtesy of owners, 2016.

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Redford infantry barracks block, Colinton Road, Edinburgh, principal elevation looking south, during daytime on a rainy day with cloudy sky.
Redford infantry barracks block, Colinton Road, Edinburgh, west elevation, during daytime on rainy day with cloudy sky.



Printed: 03/10/2023 01:44