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Latitude: 55.9756 / 55°58'32"N
Longitude: -3.1807 / 3°10'50"W
OS Eastings: 326413
OS Northings: 676471
OS Grid: NT264764
Mapcode National: GBR 8R5.6D
Mapcode Global: WH6SM.32ND
Entry Name: 28 and 30 Ferry Road, Leith Library (Incorporating Registrar's Office), Leith Theatre and Thomas Morton Hall, Porter's Lodge, Gates and Railings; Eh6 4ae
Listing Date: 29 April 1977
Source: Historic Scotland
Source ID: 363943
Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB27009
Building Class: Cultural
Electoral Ward: Leith
Traditional County: Midlothian
Bradshaw, Gass and Hope, 1929-32. Rebuilt after war damage, completed 1961. Contemporary inter-war classical complex on wedge shaped site, consisting of D-plan Library and Registrar's Office with straight front to road, small Porter's Lodge to side and free-standing rectangular-plan Theatre (formerly Town Hall) off-centre to rear with curving colonnade corresponding to Library. Cream sandstone ashlar. Ground falls away to E.
LIBRARY (INCORPORATING REGISTRAR'S OFFICE): tall single storey with basement to E; 3-stage base course and heavy cornice. Rectangular front block 11 bays long by 3 bays deep with balustraded parapet and windows in sunken surrounds.
S (FERRY ROAD) ELEVATION: 4 broad steps with central handrail to entrance at centre; oval portico in antis with Roman Doric screen and Town crest in cartouche supported by swag above cornice; octagonal lantern; solid parapet with attic above and pairs of flanking urns. Original glazed revolving door in timber case with pair of panelled leaves; fluted Ionic pilasters with dentilled cornice and anthemion frieze and cresting; plate glass fanlight with wrought-iron fleur-de-lys grille; architraved surround. Slightly advanced 5-bay wings each with pair of flanking paterae. Inscription to far right above base course.
E AND W ELEVATIONS: 3-bay. To W, revolving door in centre bay with pair of panelled leaves and fluted frieze; 9-pane fanlight and architraved surround; blind panel above with original lamp.
READING ROOM ELEVATION: 24-bay bow with punched windows. Secondary exit at basement/ground level to E with deep-set 2-leaf door.
Metal windows with 12-pane margin; plate glass to front; alternate plate glass and 2-pane with upper swing, to sides and rear. Grey slates; piended roof; skylights to Reading Room. Original cast-iron downpipes with decorative rainwaterheads.
INTERIOR: very fine classical decorative scheme; largely original. Modern glazed screen across splayed entrance to Reading Room; Registrar's Office (formerly newspaper room) to W with glazed barrel-vaulted roof, similar exhibition room to E lined with bookshelves and original counter; both divided from Reading Room by
5 glazed round-headed openings. Reading Room with semi-elliptical screen of 7 marbled Doric columns and compartmental ceiling; semi-elliptical dome at centre with 8 skylights and metal multi-pane glazing. Many original tables and chairs survive.
LEITH THEATRE AND THOMAS MORTON HALL: 2-stage 9-bay rectangular building.
S (FRONT) ELEVATION: 5 centre bays with oculi in sunken round-headed panels; advanced pedimented end pavilions containing 3 storeys; 2nd storey windows with architraves, consoled cornice and urns. At ground, curved colonnade of paired Roman Doric columns and bases in response to Library bow; corners of colonnade contain top-lit open lobbies to theatre entrances, each with 2 pairs of glazed timber doors and fanlights (main entrance to left). To W further small bay beyond end pavilion contains 4 storeys; advanced at ground (adjoining collonade to right) and adjoining single storey 5-bay hall (Thomas Morton Hall) with portico in antis; pair of Roman Doric columns and rusticated piers; 3-leaf door and fanlight, as above. To E, 2-storey 3-bay block, advanced at ground. Fly tower above E pavilion.
N (REAR) ELEVATION: upper stage of main block identical; advanced at ground to level of pavilions.
Irregular side elevations. Cornice of colonnade continues around building.
Metal multi-pane glazing with margin glazing as Library. Grey slates; top lighting. Rainwater goods as above.
INTERIOR: main entrance leads via 3 octagonal glazed wooden ticket booths divided by handrails to rotunda with paired marbled columns; statue of Circe at centre, by Arthur G Walker ARA; Imperial stair beyond and doors to halls to sides. Stair returns to landing and Registry Office at front of building with compartmentalised ceiling. To right, U-plan theatre aligned laterally with the building, with gallery and top-lit barrel-vaulted roof. To left, hall aligned longitudinally with similar roof. Much typical contemporary detailing survives.
PORTER'S LODGE: 2-storey 3-bay astylar cubic lodge to W of site; base course, cornice, and blocking course concealing roof; corner piers.
E ELEVATION: panelled door with 6-pane glazing to upper section in corniced roll-moulded door surround; flanking windows, medallion above; blank upper storey.
N AND S ELEVATION: single bay, advanced to match piers. Blank at ground to N.
W ELEVATION: irregular with off-centre 2-storey projection.
12-, 9-, and 6-pane timber sash and case windows with horns. Rainwater goods as above. Squared ashlar stacks.
GATES AND RAILINGS: elaborate geometric wrought-iron gates and flanking railings either side of Library. Spherical glass lamps crown pierced iron gatepiers.
This extensive inter-war classical composition is set tightly on a prominent corner site and it is a major example of this building type for the period. Demonstrates good stone detailing with columned loggia flanking the former hall (latterly a theatre). A prominent public commission by a successful English practice who came to specialise in Methodist churches and civic complexes during the inter-war period. Bradshaw Gass and Hope's extraordinary output is comparable to that of Vincent Harris, with commissions for other civic complexes won at Wimbledon, Stratford, Lewisham, Luton, Chesterfield and Padiham. The practice was responsible for the reconstruction of the Leith civic buildings after it was bomb-damaged in World War 2. Hall converted to theatre.
Built on the site of North Leith Manse as a condition of Leith's final incorporation with Edinburgh.
Theatre in disuse since 1984 (as noted in 2009).
List description updated as part of the Theatres Thematic Study 2010.
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