History

3.1 Edinburgh Town Council promoted the development of housing on the eastern slopes of Calton Hill from as early as 1812. It was deemed important that any development follow the contours of the hill, rather than follow the more formal lay-out fashionable at the time. William Playfair was commissioned to produce a plan for a ‘proposed New Town between Edinburgh and Leith’. From inception these Terraces were linked to Leith by way of Leith Walk.

3.2 William Playfair designed the Royal, Regent and Carlton Terraces in 1819 as part of an eastern extension to the New Town. Building began in 1825. The Terraces were planned to be even more magnificent than Craig’s New Town and the three Terraces together are reputed to be the longest continuous building of Georgian architecture in Europe.

3.3 The first houses built were on Royal Terrace. Buildings were already well established on Blenheim Place and first access was by this route. The importance of this entrance is well demonstrated in Johnston’s map of Edinburgh in 1851.

3.4 Secondary access leading to Regent Terrace from the west followed, with both these routes following the contours of the hill as planned. Lastly Carlton Terrace Brae was formally developed as a third access route from Abbeymount.

3.5 Along with the mews development there were 135 individual properties built within the Terraces.

3.6 Royal Terrace became known as ‘Whisky Row’. This was reputedly because wine merchants could see their ships arriving at Leith. Most merchants who lived here had their businesses in Leith.

3.7 A church was needed to serve the people living on the east side of Calton Hill. A site was chosen at the western end of Royal Terrace and the building was completed in 1839.

3.8 The Terraces were made a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the rest of the Edinburgh’s New Town, in 1995.

3.9 The prestigious office building for the Bank of New York Mellon, situated at the west end of Royal Terrace, was completed in 1997.

3.10 In 1998 the City of Edinburgh Council partially closed Carlton Terrace Brae over concerns for safety. Egress only was closed. This was reopened due to residents’ concerns over access.  34 letters of objection were submitted.

3.11 Regent Terrace access, both ingress and egress, was closed on a temporary basis immediately following the Terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. This was to enhance Consulate security. The American Consulate is based at 3 Regent Terrace. The entrance has not been open since. Approval for continuing closure was given in October 2004, after a TRO and public consultation.