Description: 29 Waterloo Place, Calton Convening Rooms
Date Listed: 19 April 1966
Historic Scotland Building ID: 29897
OS Grid Coordinates: 326056, 674087
Latitude/Longitude: 55.9541, -3.1858
Archibald Elliot, designed 1815, built 1818-19. Classical wedge-plan building on corner site; 5 bays to Waterloo Place, 5 bays to circled corner, 7 bays to Calton Hill; single storey (partially 2-storey to rear). Polished ashlar (predominantly droved ashlar to Calton Hill and rear elevations). Slightly advanced base course, eaves cornice, parapet. Greek Doric colonnade to corner; recessed blank niches and window opening framed by Doric columns to Waterloo Place elevation. Regular fenestration.
SE (WATERLOO PLACE) ELEVATION: advanced bay to left with recessed window flanked by Greek Doric columns. Advanced blank section to right connecting with corner elevation. To centre, round-arched doorway with stilted-arched fanlight flanked by single blank niche to left, 2 to right.
E (CORNER) ELEVATION: base course surmounted by chevaux de frise; hexastyle Greek Doric colonnade; window to each bay.
NE (CALTON HILL) ELEVATION: advanced 4-bay section to left, blank window at 3rd bay from left. 2-storey section to right, doorway to left, variety of fenstration, some bipartite.
W ELEVATION: advanced 2-storey section to left with central single window to ground floor. To centre, recessed single storey section with 2 windows. Advanced section to right; blank wall, mostly obscured by elevated ground level of Old Calton Burying Ground.
GLAZING etc: predominantly 12-pane glazing in timber sash and case windows; 4-pane glazing in timber sash and case windows to 2-storey section of rear elevation. Flat roof. Corniced ashlar stacks with predominantly octagonal cans, 1 to NE wallhead, 1 to W wallhead and 2 to centre of roof.
INTERIOR: octagonal (straight and curved walls) entrance lobby toplit by cupola; black painted stone fireplace of classical foliated design. Principal function room accessed from lobby; large long room with apsidal ends; cavetto cornice dividing ceiling into rectangle and 2 semicircles. To N wall, 2 consoled classical stone fireplaces, 1/4 height wood panelling and architraved windows. To E end, raised platform behind panelled timber 1/4 height partition; architraved windows. To S wall, classical doorpieces to far right and left; to centre, 2-storey curved balcony recess under depressed arch, supported on 2 cast-iron columns with stiff-leaf capitals. To W end, 2 curved doors to right and left. Room toplit by large central lozenge-shaped opening with plaster border to ceiling and anthemion and palmette frieze on inner edge; rectangular clerestorey above, glazed all round with flat covered roof. Remainder of interior includes ancillary rooms and smaller meeting rooms, some toplit by cupolas.
Appears on Thomas Brown's map, 1823. M S Irvine, HISTORICAL NOTES - THE CALTON OR CALDTOUN OF EDINBURGH 1631-1887 (Cowan Bequest, Edinburgh Room, Edinburgh Central Library). THE BOOK OF THE OLD EDINBURGH CLUB 1933, pp134-5. A J Youngson THE MAKING OF CLASSICAL EDINBURGH (1966) pp135-148. T Shepherd MODERN ATHENS (1969). I Nimmo EDINBURGH THE NEW TOWN (1991) pp 63-64. Gifford, McWilliam and Walker EDINBURGH (1994) pp 442-443. A Mitchell THE PEOPLE OF CALTON HILL (1993). H Colvin DICTIONARY OF BRITISH ARCHITECTS 1600-1840 (1995).
Part of an `A' Group with Nos 6-20 Waterloo Place, Nos 1-29 Waterloo Place, Waverleygate, Regent Bridge, Register House, Balmoral Hotel and 5-43 Leith Street.
This building is a significant element of Elliot's Waterloo Place scheme as a whole. It is also important as a striking visual termination of that scheme at its eastern end, as a continuation of the design and elevation of the Old Calton Burying Ground screen wall (see separate List description), for its unusual design and its well preserved interior features. The Calton Convening Rooms were designed and built for the Incorporated Trades of Calton as a replacement for their old convening rooms, which were demolished to make way for Waterloo Place and the Regent Bridge. The scheme as a whole forms a highly significant element of the vista up Princes Street towards Calton Hill and the east and creates an impressive entry to Princes Street from the east. Waterloo Place is also a major example of the Greek Revival work of Archibald Elliot, one of Edinburgh's leading architects in the early 19th century.
Acts of 1813 and 1814 appointed commissioners to oversee the construction of the new bridge and road over the Low Calton ravine to provide a new, prestigious route to and from the city to the east. The new scheme demanded the intersection of the Calton Burying Ground as well as the demolition of the old Convening rooms. Elliot's designs screened the burying ground, which now lay on both sides of the new road, with a blank niched wall which reflected the Greek theme of his palace-fronted buildings to the west. The principal elevations of the Convening Rooms continue the plainer Doric style of the screen wall.
.The Commisioners for the Road and Bridge agreed to pay for the excavation of the new site of the Convening Rooms and the cost of `the exterior ornamental parts of the house' (Book of the Old Edinburgh Club). In return, the Incorporation had to agree to certain restrictions:- `The said buildings shall continue to be used as a public building, and shall not be converted into shops or dwelling-houses, or be applied to any other private purpose whatever.'(The Calton or Caldtoun of Edinburgh).
Source: Historic Scotland
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.