Edinburgh World Heritage - Life in Auld Reekie - North Bridge

Life in Auld Reekie - North Bridge

"But Provosts now that ne'er afford
The sma'est dignity to lord,
Ne'er care tho' every scheme gae wild
That Drummond's sacred hand has cull'd:
The spacious Brig neglected lies,
Tho' plagu'd wi' pamphlets, dunn'd wi cries;”
Auld Reekie by Robert Fergusson

The leader of the city council, Lord Provost James Drummond was one of the main backers of the New Town plan, and crucial to its success was the building of the North Bridge.

In August 1769 the bridge collapsed killing five people, and it took another three years to re-build. Over the bridge was Register House, intended to hold the nation's official records. Lack of money though delayed its completion, and in the meantime the locals were calling it 'the most expensive pigeon house in Europe'.

With all these set-backs plenty of people preferred to stay in the old city, rather than live in the wind swept building site of the New Town. Then in 1787 a new Assembly Rooms was built in George Street.  With all social life now focused on the New Town, the old city no longer had any attractions for those who could afford a more exclusive address.

Writing in 1792, Creech describes how the city has changed: "The Lord Justice Clerk Tinwald's house was possessed by a French teacher - Lord President Craigie's house by a rouping-wife or sales-woman of old furniture - and Lord Drummore's house was left by a Chairman for want of accommodation."

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