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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


Tron Church. sum had been paid but once in ten years, yet, if it had been properly managed, the accumulated sum behoved to have exceeded ~16,000 sterling." The old spire had been partially built'of wood covered with lead, according to a design frequently repeated on public buildings then in Scotland. It was copied from the Dutch ; but the examples of it are rapidly disappearing. A bell, which cost 1,490 merks Scots, was hung in it in 1673, and continued weekly to summon the parishioners to prayer and - EXPLANATION. A The principal Entry. B The mea 01 thrSyuare. C The Piazza, I3 The Coffee-room inthe west Coffec-hare. d Rwnis aod Closets in diLlp. a The Coffee-mm in the middk Ccffec e Rmpis and Closets in ditm. F The Coffee-room in the la t Coffeehoux. f Raoms io ditto. G The Great Sair leadiog to the Custon H The P a q e Ieadioi 10 ditt-. I 'An open for 1etriI.g in li6ht to the Houses in the Writer's Court under the level of the Square. E The Passage belwecn the Square and Wriicr's Court. 1. Seven Shops withiu the Square m Four Shops behi d the raqe tvthe srect. N Ten Shop an a line with the street. 0 An open of four feet for dcoopirg eaws P Part ot the M'riter-5 Court. g Area of ditto. house. - H0"W. of the neighbouring houses B pounds yearly. It is an edifice of uninteresting appearance and nondescript style, being neither Gothic nor Palladian, but a grotesque mixture of both. It received its name from its vicinity to the Tron, or public beam for the weighing of merchandise, which stood near it. A very elegant stone spire, which was built in 1828, replaces that which perished in the great conflaggation of four years before. The Tron beam appears to have been used as GENERAL PLAN OF THE ROYAL EXCHANGE. (Frmn an Engraviw in fhe "Scofs Mafizzine" fm 1754.) sermon till the great fire of 1824, when it was partly melted by heat, and fell with a mighty crash through the blazing ruins of the steeple. Portions of it were made into drinking quaighs and similar memorials. In 1678 the tower was completed by placing therein the old clock which had formerly been in the Weigh House. Towards the building of this church the pious Lady Yester gave 1,000 merks. In 1703 the magistrates appointed two persons to preach alternately in the Tron Church, to each of whom they gave a salary of forty guineas, as the Council Re-, gister shows ; but about 1788 they contented themselves with one preacher, to whom they gave fifty a pillory for the punishment of crime. In Niccol's '' Diary" for 1649, it is stated that " much falset and cheitting was daillie deteckit at this time by the Lords of Sessioune; for the whilk there was daillie nailing of lugs and binding of people to the Trone, and boring of tongues; so that it was a fatal year for false notaries and witnesses, as daillie experience did witness." On the night of Monday, the 15th of November, 1824, about ten o'clock, the cry of "Fire ! " was heard in the High Street, and it spread throughout the city from mouth to mouth ; vast crowds came from all ,quarters rushing to the spot, and columns of smoke and flame were seen issuing from the second *floor of e house at the head of the old
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The Great Fire.] THE GREAT FIRE. 189 Assemlily Close, then occupied as a workshop by Kirkwood, a well-known engraver. The engines came promptly enough ; but, from some unknown cause, an hour elapsed before they were in working order, and by that time the terrible element had raged with such fierceness and rapidity that, by eleven o'clock the upper portion of this tenement, including six storeys, forming the eastern 'division of a uniform pile of buildings, was one mass of roaring flames, which, as the breeze was from the to their elevated position, or the roar of the gathering conflagration, the shouts of the crowd, and wailing of women and children, their cries were unheard for a time, until it was too late. The whole tenement was lost, together with extensive ranges of buildings in the old Fish Market and Assembly Closes, to -which it was the means of communicating the flames. While these tall and stately edifices were yielding to destruction, the night grew calm and still, and THE ROYAL EXCHANGE. sooth-west, turned them, as they burst from the gaping windows, in the direction of a house to the eastward, the strong' gable of which saved it from the destruction which seemed imminent. Two tenements to the westward were less fortunate, and as, from the narrowness of the ancient close, it was impossible to work the engines, they soon were involved in one frightful and appalling blaze. Great fears mere now entertained for the venerable Courant office; nor was it long before the fire seized on its upper storey, at the very time when some brave fellows got upon the roof of a tenement to the westward, and shouted to the firemen to give them a pipe, by which they could piay upon the adjoining roof, But, owing either I the sparks emitted by the flames shot upwards as if spouted from a volcano, and descended like the thickest drift or snow-storm, affecting the respiration of all. A dusky, lurid red tinged the clouds, and the glare shone on the Castle wdls, the rocks of the Calton, the beetling crags, and all the city spires. Scores of lofty chimneys, set on fire by the falling sparks, added to the growing horror of the scene ; and for a considerable time the Tron Church was completely enveloped in this perilous shower of embers. About one in the morning of the 16th the alarm of fire was given from a house directly oppoife to the burning masses, and, though groundless, it added to the deepening Consternation. Mean
Volume 1 Page 189
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