Edinburgh World Heritage - Find out why Drummond is called ‘the father of Edinburgh’s New Town’

 

Find out why Drummond is called ‘the father of Edinburgh’s New Town’

George Drummond first joined Edinburgh Town Council in 1716. He raised funds to build the Royal Infirmary which opened in 1738 and quickly became one of the world's foremost teaching hospitals. He was also a great supporter of the University of Edinburgh, encouraging its enlargement and establishing five chairs of medicine.  But the project for which he is best remembered paved the way for the building of Edinburgh’s New Town.

In the early 18th Century Edinburgh was largely confined to the ridge running from the Castle to Holyrood House.  Steep valleys on either side of the ridge hindered expansion and an additional barrier was the Nor Loch, a shallow lake where Princes Street Gardens now stand.  The result was that what is now the Old Town had become horribly crowded, dirty and insanitary.

George Drummond had the visionary idea of draining the Nor Loch and building a bridge from the ridge to the flat land to the north to allow Edinburgh to expand in that direction.  The Loch was drained in 1759 and Drummond laid the foundation stone for the North Bridge in 1763.  He died before the bridge was permanently opened but he lived to see the first plans for a New Town on the flat ground beyond the former Nor Loch.

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