Apr 032019

75 Grassmarket today

75 Grassmarket, Edinburgh, EH1 2JR

In the 1870s, Castle Trades Hotel opened here as a lodging house with room for 327 men in the 100 tiny wooden cubicles on each of its three floors. Each cubicle, 28-square feet in area, contained nothing more than a single bed and a nail on the door where the men could hang their belongings. Due to concern at the quality of the accommodation and its deplorable physical conditions, the Castle Trades Hotel was eventually closed in June 1981, more than one hundred years later. After extensive refurbishment, it was reopened as Bowfoot House in February 1983. Replacing the cubicles with more spacious rooms and better bathroom facilities, Bowfoot House was able to provide a wide range of accommodation from self-contained flatlets to cluster flats and a centrally based hostel for just over 100 people. When it opened, the Edinburgh Council of Social Service described it as ‘one of the most exciting developments in accommodation for single homeless people, arguably anywhere in the UK.’ Bowfoot House was in operation until 2006 when it was turned into 17 flats of two, three or four apartments made available for social rent through the Hillcrest Housing Association.

75 Grassmarket today









Castle Trades Hotel, date unknown









Photo credits: Ema Smekalova, Dave Henniker

  7 Responses to “Site of Castle Trades Hotel”

  1. My granny Sophia Parsons owned the canteen for the poor it was subsidised meals in 1970s inside the castle trades hotel I played there when I was a wee girl

  2. As an apprentice electrician1961-66, my journeyman and I installed a light and switch in each of the 400 or so cubicles, this was probably around 64-65. I can remember the smell of disinfectant throughout the building, I think it cost around a shilling (5p) a night for a bed. There was a story around at the time that one of the ‘residents’ had died in the night and there was about £25000 cash under the bed!!

    • i lived there for 10 years it was hell there and he had been a famous actor the sum was 100.000 i was 18 when i lived in that place

  3. Hi, does anyone know what happened to residents who passed away in these model dwelling houses? Were the bodies just dumped? thanks

  4. From Sandra nee Thomson. My granny Mary Loftis Cobb owned and ran this lodging house itill the 1950s.

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