new town edinburgh



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June 23rd 1795 saw the death of Scottish architect James Craig. 

Due to the amount of smoke that covered Edinburgh, which could be seen for miles, the city of Edinburgh earned the nickname “Auld Reekie”, there was also serious overcrowding, rich and poor lived side by side with the more affluent taking accommodation on the upper floors of the tenements, leaving the lower floors to the poor.

Edinburgh was one of the most densely populated areas in the world at that time.   

It was not uncommon for buildings to collapse and the overcrowding also brought disease to the City. Something had to be done so a competition was held to create a New Town in Edinburgh.   James Craig, a young Architect aged 22 was the winner in 1766 with his design of a grid system and an area was chosen to the North of the old Town. It is by and large these streets you walk along nowadays, from St Andrews Square to the east, to Charlotte Square in the west. 

Despite winning this and being well respected as an architect Craig was not a good businessman, records show he was a regular in the courts for people chasing unpaid bills and others wanting loans repaid. 

Aged only 55 James Craig died of consumption (tuberculosis) in 1795, he is buried in his then unmarked family plot in Greyfriars, the family were not well off and with the death of James the line ended,  his goods and books, drawings and equipment were sold at auction to pay creditors in the same year, with their matters for finally settled three years later. 

In 1930 The Saltire Society honoured him when they paid for a memorial on the grave, the footpath between the old St James’s Centre and Register house is named James Craig walk in his honour, he was also responsible for the planning of James Square, most of which was swept away in the sixties to accommodate the aforementioned St James’s Centre.

5 Free Things to Do in Edinburgh

Edinburgh was one of those cities that really took me by surprise. I threw it into my itinerary last minute and wasn’t expecting much, but, wow, what a city! If you’re in the UK, you need to take a train up to Edinburgh, it’ll be so worth it.

  1. Hike up Arthur’s Seat
    Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to do this, because it rained the entire time I was in Edinburgh, and didn’t feel getting my shoes and clothes all muddy right before taking my flight home. But I so wish I would’ve done it anyway. Arthur’s Seat offers a great view of the city, and it doesn’t take too long to hike to the top. 
  2. Walk the Royal Mile
    The Royal Mile is a succession of streets that goes through Old Town Edinburgh and there’s a lot of shops to peruse through, as well as major landmarks, like Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, Tron Kirk, St. Giles Cathedral, as well as other landmarks and statues along the way. Naturally, the street is full of street performers and buskers as well. 
  3. Wander through the closes of Edinburgh
    A “close” is the Scottish term for an alley, and Edinburgh is full of them in Old Town. While you’re walking along the Royal Mile, wander through some closes as well. They’re narrow and steep and it just feels so old, dark, and medieval. I felt like I was going to catch the Bubonic Plague, in a good way! Haha. I love history and the closes really add to the charm of Edinburgh.
  4. Check out some free museums/sights
    There are lots of them! The National Museum of Scotland, The National Galleries of Scotland, Greyfriar’s Kirk and graveyard, St. Giles Cathedral, and the Scottish Writer’s Museum to name a few. 
  5. People watch in Princes Street Gardens
    Princes Street Gardens is between Old Town and New Town Edinburgh, and near the train station. It’s a beautiful park that offers an incredible view of Edinburgh’s skyline and castle. This city is so historic and you really get a sense of that as you sit there and bask in it’s glory. Warning: After sitting here you won’t want to leave. Also, the seagulls will want a piece of your dinner. 
  6. Eat at the Piemaker
    Okay, this isn’t free, and it’s cash only but you have to go here. It’s right off the Royal Mile, and oh my gaaaaahhhhd. It is amazing. The Steak and Ale pie is incredible. I could cry right now, I want it so bad

A Lady in Black (c.1925). Francis Campbell Bolleau Cadell (Scottish, 1883-1937). Oil on canvas. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

This elegant, fashionably dressed woman is portrayed in the lavish setting of a Edinburgh New Town drawing room. Carefully posed, her arm resting on the back of her chair, she is arrayed in a fur collar, kid gloves and with a glint of gold hoop earring against an impressive feathered hat. An added sense of light and depth is introduced by the reflection in the mirror.


4th March 1890 saw the opening of the Forth Rail Bridge or to give it the correct title The Forth Bridge.    Before 1890 the only direct route between Queensferry and North Queensferry in the east of Scotland was the ferry across the Firth of Forth. The crossing was slow and often dangerous and the four ferries, Queen Margaret, Robert the Bruce, Mary Queen of Scots and Sir William Wallace, were sometimes prevented from sailing by the weather.When the railways arrived a ferry further downstream, from Granton to Burntisland, was used to transport goods from Edinburgh to Fife. But a more efficient means of crossing was required and so Thomas Bouch designed a suspension bridge.
Work started on the first pier at Inchgarvie but it was abandoned after another structure by Bouch of a similar design, the Tay Bridge, collapsed in 1879. A new design by John Fowler and Benjamin Baker, incorporating three double cantilevers, was commissioned and work commenced in 1883.
Over the course of the next seven years almost 51,000 Tons of steel was used in the construction of the Forth Bridge (or Forth Rail Bridge as it is often known). On 4 March 1890 the bridge was officially opened by the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) who drove in the last of the 6,500,000 rivets. The total cost of the project was £3,200,000 and at least 57 lives.
Three 100m tall towers support the 2.5km structure and the two track railway is carried at a height of 48.2m above the Firth of Forth. With main spans of 521m, the Forth Bridge was, at the time of its construction, the world’s largest cantilever bridge. To this day it still ranks second.
Last year the bridge became the sixth Scottish landmark to be awarded Unesco World Heritage Site status.Scotland’s other World Heritage Sites are New Lanark, St Kilda, the Old and New Towns in Edinburgh, Neolithic Orkney and the Antonine Wall.The award puts it alongside the Pyramids of Egypt, the great Wall of China and the Sydney Opera House in terms of cultural significance.