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


Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Date Added
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NT 26340 74895
326340, 674895


H Ramsay Taylor, 1902. Scottish Renaissance and Jacobean collegiate style library and concert hall with corner turret, on prominent site at junction of McDonald Road and Leith Walk. Squared and snecked pink sandstone rubble with polished ashlar to principal elevations. Base and cill courses; cornice over ground floor; eaves cornice; stone mullions and transoms; chamfered reveals; Ionic capitals with thistle detail to pilasters and columns at ground floor; carved strapwork dormerheads.

NE (McDONALD ROAD) ELEVATION: 8-bay, excluding corner turret (see below). Advanced corniced porch in 2nd bay; columns flanking segmental-arched doorway with vermiculated bands and voussoirs; deep-set 2-leaf panelled door; pilasters clasping angle to left; stylized parapet; 4-light window at 1st floor behind. Stair window flanked by pilasters; pyramidal roof; bartizan flanking to right. Single storey canted bay to outer right; 2-leaf panelled door to centre light. Large multi-sectioned windows in remaining bays, divided by pilasters. Pilasters forming apron to dormerheaded attic window in 1st bay.

CORNER TURRET: 3-stage with conical roof; polygonal at ground, corbelled to ground at 1st floor; 3 lights to each stage; bracketted parapet.

SE (LEITH WALK) ELEVATION: 6-bay. Secondary doorway in advanced pavilion to outer left; panelled door 4-light window above and at 1st floor; single window at 2nd floor; crenellated parapet to pavilion roof. Large multi-sectioned windows in remaining bays at ground, divided by pilasters. Strapwork pediments to 1st floor windows in advanced and crowstepped gabled 4th and 5th bays.

Plate glass fixed windows at ground; small-pane sash and case windows to upper floors. Grey slate roof; corniced gablehead and ridge stacks.

INTERIOR: decorative plaster cornices; braced timber roofs to lower library and Nelson Hall. carved Jacobean corbels and pendants; fluted cast-iron columns with floral capitals to arcades; glazed panelled doors and dados; timber newels, balusters and handrails; steel-framed roof to upper library.

Statement of Special Interest

Like a number of Edinburgh libraries, McDonald Road Library was commissioned by the Thomas Nelson Trustees. The adjoining Nelson Hall remains in use as a concert hall, as it was originally designed. Upgraded 13.7.93.



Dean of Guild 31.10.1901; George Washington Browne THE PLANNING OF PUBLIC LIBRARIES (nd); Gifford et al. EDINBURGH (1984), p426.

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. Other than the name or address of a listed building, further details are provided for information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland does not accept any liability for any loss or damage suffered as a consequence of inaccuracies in the information provided. 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 You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at


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Printed: 06/10/2022 14:44