Edinburgh World Heritage

Assembly Rooms - Travelling in style

The sedan chairs that brought visitors to the Assembly Rooms were well equipped for carrying people around the hilly city landscape of Edinburgh.

Seats inside could be swivelled so that the person inside stayed upright on steep old town closes. They also contained a warming pan to keep the rear of the occupant warm during harsh Scottish weathers. At night time, the chair was required to have a lamp.

Sedan chair carriers, often Highlanders, operated from “stances”, that were similar to taxi ranks throughout the city. Donald and Charles Robertson from Perthshire, with their stance between George Street and Castle Street, were favourite carriers of Sir Walter and Lady Scott. A professional body, the Society of Edinburgh Chairmen, had existed since the 1740s, and fares and practices were subject to strict regulation.  According to an official booklet of 1802, a lift from Castle Street, where Sir Walter Scott and family lived until 1826, to the Assembly Rooms was sixpence.  At night time, the chair was required to have a lamp.

Sedan chairs disappeared in the 1850s.

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