Lost Edinburgh


What became of Edinburgh’s once infamous yet picturesque Tolbooth Prison? Where did the Black Turnpike, once a prominent landmark in the town, disappear to? Why has one of the major layouts designed by New Town architects nearly vanished from memory? What other treasures have been lost to the annals of Edinburgh’s history?

From its humble origins – as lamented by visiting French knights in 1341 for its “wretched accommodation, lack of comfortable houses, and absence of soft beds” – Edinburgh evolved into a magnet for some of the world’s finest architects, shaping a city unlike any other. However, the passage of time has seen the disappearance of many of these architectural wonders. Some succumbed to the ravages of war and civil unrest, others crumbled under the weight of neglect and age, while still more were swept away during the ‘improvements’ of the nineteenth century. The relentless march of progress continued into the twentieth century, as developers wielded their destructive influence.

Medieval marvels vanished from the Old Town, Georgian Squares faced assault, Princes Street endured ruination, and old tenements were razed in sweeping slum clearance efforts. Once-beloved landmarks faded into memory, casualties of evolving industry, shifting social norms, changing health services, housing needs, and the relentless march of infrastructure development – even the formidable city wall was not spared.


These lost treasures, casualties of what was deemed progress, constitute the heritage of Lost Edinburgh. In his enlightening and engaging book, Hamish Coghill embarks on a journey to uncover the stories behind these vanished structures, exploring why they met their demise. Richly illustrated, Lost Edinburgh offers a captivating glimpse into the ever-changing cityscape of this historic metropolis.


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