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 28368 72536
328368, 672536


W H Playfair, 1823-4. Octagonal, 2-storey, former curling society meeting house, situated on sloping banks of Duddingston Loch. Lime harled rubble with raised tooled ashlar margins. Deep modillioned cornice. External stair to N leads to rectangular entrance opening. Further entrance opening to S. Restored as curling museum (2010-11).

INTERIOR: (seen 2012). Flagstone floor. Painted rubble walls with stone fire surround.

Statement of Special Interest

Thomson Tower is a unique building, designed by the renowned architect W H Playfair, as the meeting place of the Society who invented the modern game of curling. The well-proportioned octagonal structure sits overlooking the Duddingston Loch and adds significantly to the local landscape. The modillioned cornice and raised margins add simple and balanced detailing to the small structure.

It was built by the Duddingston Curling Society as a meeting place and storeroom. With a membership of eminent men, the Duddingston Curling Society was one of the foremost curling societies of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The members wrote and agreed the first rules of curling in 1804, and these form the basis of the rules of the modern game. By 1823, numbers of the Society had increased and it was looking for new accommodation. They commissioned the Edinburgh-based W H Playfair to design a building for them. The lower room of the tower, which leads directly to the loch was used a store for curling stones and the upper room was used a meeting room for the committee.

The tower is situated close to the manse of Duddingston Kirk and the then minister, Rev John Thomson, was a competent artist. He used the upper room of the tower as a painting studio.

The village of Duddingston and the Loch were a natural location for a curling club. The game had been played at Duddingston since the 1750s. In 1795 a group of curlers from in and around the village decided to form themselves into the Duddingston Curling Society, becoming the most influential curling club in the country during the 19th century.

W H Playfair (1789-1857) was a renowned and eminent architect and a leading figure in Edinburgh's Enlightenment. He was responsible for many significant buildings in 19th century Edinburgh including the National Gallery (1848), The Royal Scottish Academy (1822-6) and Royal Circus (see separate listings). An expert exponent of the Greek Revival style, his buildings helped to create the Enlightenment character of Edinburgh. Further information regarding the Tower can be found in David B Smith, Curling: An Illustrated History (Edinburgh, 1981) 33.

Curling is believed to have originated in Scotland with the earliest reference to throwing stones on ice dating from 1541. In previous centuries Scotland's climate provided the ideal conditions for the outdoor version of this sport and curling became an integral part of its sporting heritage. Organised curling began with the forming of curling clubs around 1716. The rules of curling were first written down in 1804 by the Duddingston Curling Society, and codified by the Grand (later Royal) Caledonian Curling Company, established in 1838.

The advent of modern indoor curling came in 1907 after new freezing technology was developed. Traditionally, curling stones were made from granite from the island of Ailsa Craig. When curling became an official Olympic sport, at the 1998 Nagano games, granite from the Scottish island was recognised as the primary material source for all Olympic curling stones. Large curling tournaments, known as Grande Matches, form part of the history of the sport and curling continues to be closely identified with Scotland.

List description revised as part of the Edinburgh Holyrood Ward resurvey 2007-8 and as part of the sporting buildings thematic study (2012-13).



1st Edition Ordnance Survey Map (1849-53). John Gifford, Colin McWilliam and David Walker, The Buildings of Scotland: Edinburgh (1988). p562. Leaflet produced by Thomson Tower Appeal. Further information courtesy of owner (2007 and 2012).

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


There are no images available for this record, you may want to check Canmore for images relating to THE THOMSON TOWER, DUDDINGSTON LOCH, EDINBURGH

There are no images available for this record.

Search Canmore

Printed: 26/02/2024 18:27