Edinburgh Bookshelf

Old and New Edinburgh Vol. IV


Castle Terrace.] THE UNION CANAL 215 newest mechanical appliances, including hydraulic machinery for shifting the larger scenes. The proscenium was 32 feet wide by 32 feet in height, with an availabie width behind of 74 feet, expanding backwards to 114 feet. The lighting was achieved ?by a central sunlight and lamps hung on the partition walls. The ventilation was admirable, and the temperature was regulated by steam-pipes throughout the house. But the career of this fine edifice as a theatre was very brief, and proved how inadequate Edinburgh is, from the peculiar tastes and wishes of its people, to supply audiences for more than two or three such places of entertainment. It speedily proved a failure, and being in the inarket was purchased by the members of the United Presbyterian Church, who converted it into a theological hall, suited for an audience of 2,ooo in all. The total cost of the building to the denomination, including the purchase of the theatre, amounted to ~47,000. Two flats under the street $oor are fitted up as fireproof stores, which will cover in all an area of 3,500 square yards. In connection with this defunct theatre it was proposed to have a winter garden and aquarium. Near it the eye is arrested by a vast pile of new buildings, fantastic and unique in design and detail, the architect of which has certainly been fortunate, at least, in striking out something original, if almost indescribable, in domestic architecture. Free St. Cuthbert?s Church is in Spittal Street, which is named from Provost Sir James Spittal, and is terminated by the King?s Bridge at the base of the Castle Rock. All this area of ground and that lying a little to the westward have the general name of the Castle Barns, a designation still preserved in a little street near Port Hopetoun. A map of the suburbs, in 1798, shows Castle Barns to be an isolated hamlet or double row of houses on Lhe Falkirk Road, distant about 250 yards from the little pavilion-roofed villa still standing at the Main Point. Maitland alleges that somewhere thereabout an ediiice was erected for the accommodation of the royal retinue when the king resided in the Castle; and perhaps such may have been the case, but the name implies its having been the grange or farm attached to the fortress, and this idea is confirmed by early maps, when a considerable portion of the ground now lying on both sides of the Lothian Road is included under the general term. On the plateau at the head of the latter, bordered on the south-east by the ancient way to Fountainbridge, stands one of the most hideous features of Edinburgh-the Canal Basinl with its surrounding stores and offices. 8 In 1817 an Act of Parliament was procured, giving power to a joint stock company to cut a a canal from Edinburgh to the Forth and Clyde Canal at a point about four miles before the communication of the latter with the Forth. The canal was begun in the following year and completed in 1822. The chief objects of it were the transmission of heavy goods and the conveyance of passengers between the capital and Glasgow-a system long since abandoned ; the importation to the former of large coal supplies from places to the *estward, and the exportation of manure from the city into agricultural districts. The eastern termination, calledPort Hopetoun, occasioned the rapid erect;on of a somewhat important suburb, where before there stood only a few scattered houses surrounded by fields and groves of pretty trees; but the canal, though a considerable benefit to the city in prerailway times, has drained a great deal of money from its shareholders. Though opened in 182, the canal was considerably advanced in the year preceding. In the Week0 Journd for November 7, 1821, we read that ?from the present state of the works, the shortening of the days, and the probability of being retarded by the weather, it seems scarcely possible that the trade of this navigation can be opened up sooner than the second month of spring, which will be exactly four years from its commencement. Much has been done within the last few months on the west end of the line, while at the east end the forming of the basin, which is now ready to receive the water, together with the numerous bridges necessary in the first quarter of a mile, have required great attention. , Of the passage boats building at the west end of Lochrin distillery, two of which we mentioned some time ago as being in a forward state, one is now completed ; she is in every respect an elegant and comfortable vessel, and is called the FZoora Mac Ivor; the second is considerably advanced, and a third boat after the same model as the others is commenced building.? In the same (now defunct) periodical, for 1st January, 1822, we learn that the RZora, ?the first of the Union Canal Company?s passage boats, was yesterday launched from the company?s building yard, at the back of Gilmore Place.? One of the best features of street architecture that sprung up in this quarter after the formation of the canal was Gardiner?s Crescent., with its chapel, which was purchased from the United Secession Congregation by the Kirk Session of St.
Volume 4 Page 215
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