New Town set for revamp

By Tom Barry

Coates Crescent, in Edinburgh's New Town
Coates Crescent, in Edinburgh's New Town

The first campaign in 30 years to promote Edinburgh’s New Town has been announced by the city’s heritage watchdogs. The move comes after experts admitted that the area of the city is failing to make the most of its well-planned streetscapes, neo-classical architecture and its role in shaping the Scottish Enlightenment.

While Edinburgh is no stranger to the tourism trade, experts believe that most tourists find it difficult to make it past the  Old Town and Royal Mile areas of the city. The belief is based on a study carried out by digital cartographer Eric Fischer who constructed maps showing where visitors and locals had taken pictures around the city which were subsequently uploaded to the photo-sharing website Flickr.

His digital map of Edinburgh showed that most tourists rarely venture further into the New Town than Princes Street.

The aim of the campaign, overseen by the Edinburgh World Heritage Trust, is to explain how Edinburgh became known as the ‘Athens of the North,’ highlighting classical architecture and everyday life in the New Town.

The area of the city is home to the work of some Britain’s greatest architects including James Craig, William Playfair, Thomas Hamilton and Robert Adam while it was also home to some of Scotland’s finest writers such as Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson.

A series of heritage trail is to be created from Calton Hill to the Dean Village, Charlotte Square and Stockbridge and will include neo-Greek buildings such as the Dugald Stewart monument, the Burns Monument and the Royal Scottish Academy which will be supplemented by a programme of talks, events and guided walks.

Director of the heritage trust, Adam Wilkinson said: “The New Town is the largest and best preserved example of Georgian town planning in the world. It contains over 1,000 listed buildings in the New Town, with over 500 at category A.

“This is historic streetscape of the highest quality, and it is possible to walk for a mile through the New Town and see only category A buildings on your journey. That experience cannot be matched in any other UK city.

“Our intention is to reveal the hidden meaning behind the design of buildings such as the Burns Monument. The campaign will also look at everyday life in the New Town at the time of Sir Walter Scott, the social life, fashions and life below stairs. The New Town offers a unique experience for visitors and our aim is to bring its history to life for everyone.”