Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Edinburgh - architectural detail

Edinburgh's a city for a telephoto lens to pick off architectural detail and to focus on tight close-ups of interesting features. Right: turrets and crenellations atop the Old Woollen Mill, on the corner of High Street and Cockburn Street. (See wider view of this corner on the previous post.)

The Victorian architect is letting his romantic vision run free, referencing Mediaeval castles from an imagined Scots history. The novels of Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) were instrumental in launching the Victorian craze for all things Scottish, and for casting them in a strongly romantic light.

Left: standing on Princes Street, the monument to the Royal Scots Greys, Scotland's most famous cavalry regiment. The many war memorials dotted around Edinburgh testify to how many of its sons Scotland lost to build up and maintain the British Empire. Another memorial, in East Princes Street Gardens, bears the inscription "Peking, 1860" - and the names of Scotsmen who died so that British merchants could go on selling opium to the Chinese.

Right: looking up the part of Royal Mile known as Castlehill towards to Castle (which is out of sight, just around the corner).

Dominating the scene - no, this is no longer a church, this is The Hub, café and restaurant, and home to the Edinburgh Festival (indeed, a collection of festivals of varying artistic merit), which brings normal tourist traffic to an over-priced standstill every August.

The Hub's spire (designed by Augustus Pugin, the man who gave London Big Ben) is the highest point in the city.

Left: New College, home of the School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh. It was originally built in 1846 as a seminary college for the disestablished Free Church of Scotland (it did not have the British monarch as its head).

A colourful floral display highlights the contrast between Scotland's temperate Atlantic climate and Warsaw's continental climate - spring still feels a long way off .

Right: Ionic columns and 'all-square' style of this bank building on Hanover Street suggest solidity and fiduciary propriety.

The recent history of Lloyds TSB (Lloyds TSB Scotland north of the border) shows that the granite-like structure was ridden with more than its fair share of controversy. The original owner of the building, the Edinburgh Savings Bank, was swallowed up by TSB which was then in turn swallowed up by Lloyds.

Left: A seagull atop a chimney pot. In the skies over Edinburgh, the gull is a common sight, not surprising since the city centre is less than three miles from the Firth of Forth, the tidal estuary of the River Forth. No longer belching soot, the chimneys are a prominent part of Edinburgh's skyline.

Smoke and soot gave rise to the city's former nickname, Auld Reekie, though the 1956 Clean Air Act brought the practice of burning open fires in British cities to an end. Since then, many historic buildings have been sandblasted, returning to the city to its original glory.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I love Edinburgh and have loved your pics. Hope your time up North was fruitful :)