City of Edinburgh

Clock at Morningside Station, Edinburgh
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Clock at Morningside Station, Edinburgh

A popular and sizeable residential area of SW Edinburgh, lying 1½ miles (2.5 km) southwest of the city centre. A small village until the 19th C., the area grew with the building of sizeable mansions, a process encouraged by the opening of the Edinburgh Suburban Railway in 1885. Developed on part of the old Borough Muir, the district extends from Holy Corner in the north, to Cluny and Braid in the south. Other sizeable residential districts lie to the northwest (Merchiston) and the east (Marchmont and the Grange). The main artery, Morningside Road, is a busy shopping street and at its southern termination, close to what was once Morningside Station (opened 1884, closed 1962), is a prominent clock on a cast-iron pillar which the work of the Saracen Foundry (Glasgow) and installed in 1910.

The distinguished judge Francis Garden (Lord Gardenstone) lived at the now demolished Morningside House. Sir Reginald Johnston (1874 - 1938), tutor to the last Emperor of China, was born in the district as, in 1961, was impressionist Rory Bremner. More recently, Morningside has promoted its reputation as the 'literary quarter' of Edinburgh, with authors such as J.K Rowling (b.1965) and Ian Rankin (b.1960) living nearby, and home to Morningside Maisie the cat whose exploits are recorded in the children's books of author Aileen Paterson (b.1934). Since 2011, the image of Morningside Maisie has adorned Lothian Buses' No.5 service, which passes through the district.

Today, Morningside is noted for its caf├ęs and traditional shops, which survive without the domination of chain-stores. The area also benefits from a library, post office, several churches, South Morningside Primary School, St. Peter's RC Primary School, Church Hill Theatre and the Art-Deco Dominion Cinema, a rare example of a family-run cinema which dates from 1938 and now B-listed. The Royal Edinburgh Hospital, providing psychiatric and mental health services, is also located here. The Canny Man's public house (formerly The Volunteer's Arms) was established in 1871, is famous for its eccentric interior and was described by TV-chef Rick Stein as "the best pub in the world".

One of its grandest houses was Falcon Hall, which occupied an 7.3-ha (18-acre) estate between Canaan Lane and Newbattle Terrace. Built in 1780 as Morningside Lodge by William Coulter 1754 - 1810), a successful hosier who became Lord Provost of Edinburgh in 1808, it was acquired by Alexander Falconer, who had made his fortune with the East India Company. In 1815, Falconer commissioned the architect Thomas Hamilton (1784 - 1858) to add to the building. The property was bought be George Watson's Hospital in 1889 and rented for a time to the cartographer John George Bartholomew (1860 - 1920) but was eventually demolished in 1909. The gates survive at Edinburgh Zoo and the portico was removed to Bartholomew House in Newington.

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