Jan 292018
Exterior of the extension of the National Museum of Scotland, once the site of Society of Brewers

Original location of the Society of Brewers

Chambers 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, later called the Boroughloch, 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 at different times in the nineteenth century: Aikman, J. & T. Usher and William J. Raeburn.

Jan 292018
Exterior of McEwan Hall at the University of Edinburgh

McEwan Hall

Teviot 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 on Bristo Square

The McEwan lantern pillar, Bristo Square.

Black and white portrait of William McEwan

William McEwan (1827-1913)

Red, white, and black label for McEwan's Export.

Label for McEwan’s Export India Pale Ale.

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