George Square, Edinburgh
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George Square is a city square in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is in the south of the city centre, adjacent to the Meadows. It was laid out in 1766 outside the overcrowded Old Town, and was a popular residential area for Edinburgh's better-off citizens. In the 1960s much of the square was redeveloped by the University of Edinburgh, despite the protests of the Cockburn Association and the Georgian Group of Edinburgh. Most but not all buildings on the square now belong to the university (among the exceptions being the Dominican priory of St Albert the Great). Principal buildings include the George Square Theatre, Main Library, David Hume Tower and Appleton Tower.
The square was laid out by the builder James Brown, and comprised modest, typically Georgian, terraced houses. Away from the overcrowded Old Town, George Square became popular with lawyers and nobles. Well-known residents included Sir Walter Scott, the judge Lord Braxfield, and the politician Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville. The square was named after James Brown's elder brother, George Brown.
Redevelopment of the square began in the late 19th century when numbers 4 to 7 were redeveloped as George Watson's Ladies College. In the 1920s the college expanded to absorb 8 to 10. These minor interventions were mild in comparison with the changes of the 1960s: the whole south side was demolished, together with half the east side, to provide new facilities for Edinburgh University. Combined with the redevelopments on Potterow to the north-east and acquisition of the McEwan Hall, this made George Square the new focal hub of the whole university.
The central gardens are privately owned and are not a public park as such. However they are usually available to public use, though only the southern access is usually open.
The garden contains a memorial to Dr Winifred Rushforth entitled "The Dreamer".
The garden also contains several "Baillie lamps" which were formerly placed in front of the Edinburgh Baillies and latterly (until the 1970s) placed in front of councillor's houses.
- Richard Huie (8)
- John Campbell, Lord Stonefield (11)
- Waller Hugh Paton (14)
- John Struthers (anatomist) (15)
- Rev William King Tweedie (15) plus a short time at (50)
- Very Rev Patrick Clason (22)
- Simon Somerville Laurie (22)
- Jane Welsh Carlyle (23)
- Robert Kaye Greville (31)
- Joseph Noel Paton (33)
- Charles Lawson (nurseryman) (35)
- Dawson Turner (radiologist) (37)
- Dr Andrew Fyfe (38)
- William Archer Porter Tait (38)
- Edmund Taylor Whittaker (48)
- George Turnbull of Abbey St Bathans and his son John (49)
- Gerard Baldwin Brown (50)
- Robert Dundas of Arniston (57)
- Charles Maclaren (58)
- Thomas M'Crie the Younger (58)
33 George Square was used as HM Geological Survey of Scotland with notable employees including John Horne.
The University of Edinburgh began drawing up plans to redevelop the square in the 1950s. Architects Basil Spence and Robert Matthew were closely involved in the plans. Opposition to demolition of the Georgian Square was led by the Cockburn Association, and the Georgian Group of Edinburgh which was established by Colin McWilliam and others to resist the proposals. In the end, the western side of the square was retained. On the northern side, the 19th century George Watson's Ladies College was retained alongside the modern Hugh Robson Building. Georgian terraces were retained along half of the east side, while the southern side was entirely redeveloped. The David Hume Tower stands at the south-east corner, adjacent to the main lecture theatre and the business school. The Main Library occupies most of the southern side of the square.
During August each year, the square becomes an important hub for events at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Many of the university buildings, notably George Square Theatre and the lecture theatres in the David Hume Tower complex are converted to use as venues by venue operator Assembly. The gardens are filled with bars and pop-up venues, including, in recent years while nearby Bristo Square is being renovated, the well-known Underbelly purple cow venue.
- Historic Environment Scotland. "Edinburgh, George Square, General (122519)". Canmore. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
- Robertson, Eleanor (1997). "The Story of the Society" (PDF). Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 July 2011.
- "George Square". Gazetteer for Scotland. Retrieved 18 May 2012.