Mar 242017
 

Site of old Royal Medical Society.1 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1AD

On this site stood the hall of the Royal Medical Society between 1852 and 1966. The Society was, and still is,  run by students at the University of Edinburgh Medical School. First founded by a group of medical students as the ‘Medical Society’ in 1737, it received its Royal Charter in 1778. The Society has had many illustrious members over the years, including Benjamin Franklin, Charles Darwin and Joseph Lister. It is still in existence but has now moved to new premises on Bristo Square.

Royal Medical Society of Edinburgh plaque.

Royal Medical Society of Edinburgh plaque.

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Royal Medical Society

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Mar 242017
 

St Bernard's WellUpper Dean Terrace, Edinburgh EH3 6TS

This natural spring beside the Water of Leith was discovered in 1760 and rapidly became popular with citizens of Edinburgh suffering from a variety of medical conditions. The foul tasting, sulphurous water was claimed to be a cure for all manner of ailments from general aches and pains to blindness. The building in the form of a Ancient Greek temple that now sits over the well was designed by the painter Alexander Nasmyth (1740–1840) and built in 1789. It surrounds a statue of Hygeia, the Greek goddess of health.

Only periodically open to the public on Open Doors Day.

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Mar 242017
 

Infirmary Street, Edinburgh EH1 1LT

The site of the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, 1741–1879.

Edinburgh Royal Infirmary moved to this site in 1741. The old Infirmary, which first opened its doors in the nearby Robertson’s Close in 1729, had only four beds, quite inadequate for the city’s needs.  The new hospital was granted patronage and a charter by King George II and had 228 beds. Over the decades the Infirmary grew to occupy most of the land between Infirmary Street and Drummond Street. By the 1860s the hospital was again proving inadequate and plans were made to move the hospital to Lauriston Place in 1879.

 

 

Royal Infirmary plaque, Infirmary Street.

Royal Infirmary plaque, Infirmary Street.

 

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Mar 242017
 

Site of James Barry's student lodgings.74 Potterrow, Edinburgh EH8 9BT

In 1812, long before women could enrol at Edinburgh’s medical school, a woman born under the name Margaret Ann Bulkley (c.1799–1865) successfully graduated with an MD from the University of Edinburgh. This is the site of the house where she lodged as a student. To enrol at the university she had to disguise herself as a man, using the name she is now better known under, James Barry. Barry went on the serve with distinction as a surgeon in the British Army in India and South Africa. Her true gender was only revealed after her death.

James Barry with John, a servant, and his dog, Psyche.

James Barry with John, a servant, and his dog, Psyche.

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The University of Edinburgh: James Barry (1797–1865)

Science Museum: Brought to Life – James Barry (1792 or 1795–1865)

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Apr 192016
 

Nicolson St, Edinburgh EH8 9BZ

Surgeons' Hall Museums

The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh was founded in 1505. Its Museum began to amass anatomical specimens in 1699 and it grew rapidly in the 19th century through the donations of the collections of the famous Edinburgh anatomists Sir Charles Bell and John Barclay. Perhaps the museum’s most famous curator was Robert Knox, who worked here from 1825 until 1831, when  enemies within the College used his association with the murders committed by Burke and Hare to force his resignation. Today the museum is open to the public for a small fee.

Robert Knox (1791–1862).

Robert Knox (1791–1862).

Surgeons' Hall, 1890.

Surgeons’ Hall, 1890.

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Apr 192016
 

South Bridge, Edinburgh EH8 9YL

Old College, University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh was first established on this site in 1582. Unusually, it was founded by the town council of Edinburgh and most of its professorial chairs remained in the gift of the  council until the reforms brought in by the Universities (Scotland) Act in 1858. Work on the building we see now was started in 1789 and it was more or less completed by 1827. The original design was by Robert Adam. Adam died in 1792 and the building was completed by William Henry Playfair. The dome was only added in 1887.

With the exception of the Talbot Rice Gallery, the interiors of the University buildings are not open to the public.

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Apr 172016
 

57 George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9JU

Dawson Fyers Duckworth Turner's house

Dawson Fyers Duckworth Turner was a physician who had worked at a number of Edinburgh hospitals. He was a pioneer of the development of x-rays in medicine. Beginning in 1896, only one year after x-rays had been discovered by Roentgen, he set up an experimental x-ray apparatus at his house in George Square. He used this to demonstrate the power of x-rays to show bones and foreign objects through soft tissues. Not realising how dangerous the rays were, his experiments cost him three fingers and an eye.

No public access.

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Apr 172016
 

Royal College of Surgeons, Nicolson St, Edinburgh EH8 9BZ

Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh

A notorious riot took place on this spot at the doors of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1870 when male medical students attempted to prevent female students from taking an anatomy exam. The first group of female students, known as the Edinburgh Seven, were Sophia Jex-Blake, Isabel Thorne, Edith Pechey, Matilda Chaplin, Helen Evans, Mary Anderson, and Emily Bovell. Several went on to distinguished medical careers, including the leader of the group, Jex-Blake, who set up the Edinburgh Hospital and Dispensary for Women, and Chaplin, who founded a school of midwifery in Tokyo.

Sophia Jex-Blake (1840–1912).

Sophia Jex-Blake (1840–1912).

Plaque to the Edinburgh Seven, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.

Plaque to the Edinburgh Seven, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.

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Apr 172016
 

52 Queen Street, Edinburgh EH2 3NS

James Young Simpson's house

In this house on 4 November 1847 James Young Simpson, professor of medicine and midwifery at Edinburgh University, discovered the effects of chloroform, the first widely used anaesthetic. Simpson and some of his medical friends used to spend their evenings testing the effects of various chemical substances on themselves in the hope of finding an effective anaesthetic. On this particular evening they decided to try chloroform, which had first been sythesised in 1831. This instantly rendered all three of them unconscious until the next morning. On waking up, Simpson realised he  had found what he was looking for.

No public access.

James Young Simpson (1811–70).

James Young Simpson (1811–70).

Plaque on the wall of James Young Simpson's former house.

Plaque on the wall of James Young Simpson’s former house.

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Apr 172016
 

Greyfriars Cemetery, Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh EH1 2QQ

Tomb of Sir Robert Sibbald

Sir Robert Sibbald was a graduate of the University of Leiden, then the foremost centre for medical education in Europe. In 1685 he became the University of Edinburgh’s first professor of medicine, although as far as we know if never actually gave any lectures. He was a founder of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and, along with Sir Andrew Balfour, established the city’s first botanical gardens in 1670. He was a keen collector natural history specimens, which he left to the university in his will. These formed the original core of the University Museum’s famous natural history collection.

Robert Sibbald (1641–1722).

Sir Robert Sibbald (1641–1722).

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