Jan 292018
 

Moray House summer houseHolyrood Road, Edinburgh EH8 8BA

If you look through the gates of Moray House on the north side of Holyrood Road from this spot you can see the summer house where a historic event took place in 1707. In that year the threat of a riotous mob, enraged by the decision of the Scottish Parliament to sign the Treaty of Union with England, prevented the representatives of the two countries from signing the Treaty in the Scottish Parliament. For their own safety they retreated to this summer house in a private garden off Hollyrood Road, where they could sign away Scotland’s independence in peace. However, it proved one step too far for the Scottish representatives that Article 13 of the treaty imposed a malt tax on Scotland which had originally been established in England to pay for war with France. This tax on the brewing industry was too much for the Scottish parliamentarians and it was finally agreed that Scotland would be exempted from it. However, after the Union the tax was eventually imposed on Scotland anyway in 1725, leading to riots in both Edinburgh and Glasgow, where nine people died.

Summer house from the street.

View of Moray House summer house from across Holyrood Road.

Find out more

Share #curiousedinburgh:
Jan 292018
 

Waverley StationEdinburgh EH1 1BB

When the great French biologist Louis Pasteur visited Edinburgh in 1884 to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the city’s University he arrived, as many visitors do today, at Waverley station. You can get a magnificent view of the station from this spot on west side of North Bridge. The brewing industry had benefited greatly from Pasteur’s research and discoveries on fermentation, and Henry Younger, the great-grandson of the original owner of William Younger’s brewery, not only invited Pasteur to stay at his house, but also arranged for a special carriage for him to be attached to the London to Edinburgh train which pulled into Waverley Station. Pasteur was horrified by the public health situation in Edinburgh, and the University of Edinburgh set up a new chair of public health as a direct result of Pasteur’s visit. This chair was jointly endowed, in a move that might seem somewhat ironic today, by the proprietors of William Younger’s brewery and Usher’s distillery. A total sum of £15,000 was donated by the family of Alexander Low-Bruce, a senior manager at Younger’s, Younger’s brewery and Sir John Usher. The Bruce and John Usher chair of Public Health still exists at the University of Edinburgh today.

Louis Pasteur

Louis Pasteur (1822-95)

Find out more

Share #curiousedinburgh:
Jan 292018
 

Calton Hill Brewery63 Calton Road, Edinburgh EH8 8FJ

This brewery, owned by John Muir, was the first in Britain to brew lager in 1835. Muir had enjoyed lager while on a visit to Germany and decided to try brewing it himself on his return to Scotland. This style of beer requires a different type of yeast from traditional Scottish beer, and he had this sent to him in Edinburgh by a German friend. Unlike the traditional beers brewed in Scotland, lager required refrigeration if it was to be stored for any length of time, and this problem possibly led to the temporary demise of lager brewing in Scotland after Muir’s original experiment. It was revived towards the end of the nineteenth century by which time the technology had moved on. The original brewery buildings are now flats.

Find out more

Share #curiousedinburgh:
Jan 292018
 

Craigwell BreweryNether Craigwell, Calton Road, Edinburgh EH8 8DR

One of many breweries in the area, Craigwell Brewery was founded in 1822 by John Blair. The original buildings do not survive, although some later nineteenth-century brewery buildings have now been converted into flats. These were built by Charles Blair, the grandson of John, who took over the firm in 1873.  John Blair’s son Charles built a maltings, where barley for use in the brewing process could be converted into malted barley. This building can still be seen standing opposite the brewery itself. Many breweries bought in the malt from an outside supplier rather than producing it themselves. The hoists which were used to pull the malted barley and other raw materials up to the brew house can still be seen. The brewery ceased production for a time the early 1900s when the well used to supply water for the brewing process became contaminated. However, a new well was dug and the brewery continued production until 1953.

Craigwell Brewery gates

The main gate of Craigwell Brewery.

Craigwell Brewery maltings

Maltings opposite main Ctraigwell Brewery buildings.

Find out more

Share #curiousedinburgh:
Jan 292018
 

Harry Younger Hall3 Lochend Close Edinburgh EH8 8BL

The Harry Younger Hall  belongs to the Canongate Kirk next door. It was originally used as a gymnasium. During the Edinburgh International Festival it transforms into ‘Venue 13’. It was designed by the renowned architect Sir Basil Spence and its construction was completed in 1969. Spence was also responsible for Edinburgh University’s library, Coventry’s twentieth-century cathedral and parts of the New Zealand parliament. The hall is named in memory Harry Younger, of the notable Edinburgh brewing family, who served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Lothian and Borders Yeomanry during the Second World War and was killed in action at St Valery in 1940. His family and its brewing enterprise had been associated with the neighbourhood for generations.

Sir Basil Spence

Sir Basil Spence (1907-76).

Harry Younger Hall sign

Sign on Harry Younger Hall.

Find out more

Share #curiousedinburgh:
Jan 292018
 

Bell's Brewery48 Pleasance, Edinburgh EH8 9TJ

The building that now houses the University of Edinburgh’s sports facilities was once Bell’s Brewery. This brewery united with three others in the 1920s to create Edinburgh United Breweries, but this new conglomerate rapidly ran into financial difficulties. As a result, one of the directors and the head brewer decided that the only way for the brewery to survive was to avoid paying the full amount of duty on the beer they produced. From 1926 until the fraud was discovered in 1933 it was the practice at the brewery to keep two sets of books for the brewery’s business records, one with the real figures and one with falsified figures to show to inspectors from Customs and Excise. A sacked employee finally told Customs and Excise what was going on, leading to the exposure of the scheme. The brewery could not afford to pay what they owed leading to the business going under. A book based on this case by John Pink was used for many years in the training of new officers.

Share #curiousedinburgh:
Jan 292018
 

Site of Society of BrewersChambers Street, Edinburgh EH1 1JF

In 1596 the Society of Brewers, or, to give it its full name, the Fellowship and Society of Ale and Beer Brewers of the City of Edinburgh, was established on the site where the modern extension to the National Museum of Scotland new stands. Their brewing operation here was supplied with water pumped from the South Loch, which was later drained to create the Meadows.  A number of other breweries were established here in later centuries. Archibald Campbell started brewing near here in Campbell’s Close in 1710 before moving a short distance to the site of the Argyle Brewery, the buildings of which still survive between Chambers Street and the Cowgate. In the eighteenth century it specialised in brewing porter, much of which was transported by cart to be sold in Glasgow. There were three other brewers in this area in the nineteenth century: Aikman, J. & T. Usher and William J. Raeburn.

Share #curiousedinburgh:
Jan 292018
 

McEwan HallTeviot Place, Edinburgh EH8 9AG

The McEwan Hall of the University of Edinburgh is named after the Edinburgh brewing magnate William McEwan (1827–1913), who had learnt the art of brewing from his uncle, who ran a brewery in the Grassmarket. The Hall and a new medical school were opened in in 1897, built with £115,000 donated by McEwan, a princely sum at the time. It is used by the University principally for graduation ceremonies. McEwan was not only a brewer, but a local politician, philanthropist and, strange as it may seem, an ardent member of the Temperance Society. How he squared his moral stance on the evils of alcohol with his extremely lucrative business interests is hard to imagine. On the other side of Bristo Square you will see the McEwan lantern pillar, bearing the family coat of arms, erected at the same time as the Hall.

 

McEwan lantern pillar

The McEwan lantern pillar, Bristo Square.

 

William McEwan

William McEwan (1827-1913)

Find out more

Share #curiousedinburgh:
Jan 292018
 

Windmill StreetWindmill Street, Edinburgh EH8 9HN

This street was originally close to the South Loch, which was drained to make way for the Meadows park in 1722. The street was named after the windmill which stood near this spot and provided power to pump water from the Loch to the Society of Brewers’ brewery near what is now Chambers Street. Although Edinburgh was surrounded by boggy, badly drained land, finding a source of clean water was always a problem, and many breweries had their own wells so that they could be sure of the water quality. Breweries often had to drill down as far as 180 metres to find clean water. The South Loch was also sometimes known as the Boroughloch. The name of the Boroughloch Brewery, which closed in the early 1900s, can still be found on an archway at the entrance to the brewery on Boroughloch street, a short walk south of Windmill Street. The loch itself was drained long before the foundation  of this brewery in 1805.

 

Windmill Street street sign

Windmill Street street sign.

 

Gates of former Boroughloch Brewery.

Gates of former Boroughloch Brewery.

 

Boroughloch Brewery sign.

Boroughloch Brewery sign.

Find out more

Share #curiousedinburgh:
Jan 292018
 

SummerhallSummerhall Place, Edinburgh EH9 1PL

The first beer was brewed at Summerhall in 1704. It was one of the earliest commercial breweries in Edinburgh and predates the draining of the South Loch, which occupied the site of the present Meadows park. The brewery was founded by Robert McClellan, the gardener who looked after the garden that was then on the site. A well and stone wall boundary wall are all that remain of the original brewery today. From 1916 to 2011 the building on this site was the Royal School of Veterinary Studies. Summerhall is now a vibrant cultural centre, but its connection with brewing continues through Barney’s micro-brewery, which can be found towards the rear of the site. This was established by Andrew Barnett in Falkirk in 2010 before moving to this site in 2012.

Boundary wall in the courtyard of Summerhall that is all that remains of the old brewery buidlings

Boundary wall in the courtyard of Summerhall that is all that remains of the old brewery buidlings.

Find out more

Share #curiousedinburgh: