12 historic Edinburgh buildings at risk of disappearing forever

While Edinburgh is famous around the world for its abundance of historic buildings, the city continually faces a battle to save listed structures that have fallen into disrepair.

Wednesday, 21st October 2020, 4:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 21st October 2020, 8:29 pm
Victoria Swing Bridge, Leith
Victoria Swing Bridge, Leith

Since 1990, the Buildings at Risk Register has been active in Scotland in response to a concern at the growing number of listed buildings in Conservation Areas that had been left vacant and had fallen into a state of disrepair.

The Register, which is managed by Historic Environment Scotland, aims to protect these buildings, many of which are at risk of being lost forever.We take a look at 12 listed buildings which have fallen into the “at risk” category and might not have a future in the long term unless something is done to stop the rot.

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Brought back into use in recent years by Edinburgh World Heritage, the city’s medieval Tron Kirk has been a focal point of the High Street for centuries, but remains at risk. The 17th century kirk was added to the Buildings at Risk register in 2003.

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Having kept watch over the numerous ancient graves at New Calton Burial Ground since 1820, conservationists are hoping this B-listed landmark can be make it another 200 years. While deemed “low risk” the watch tower’s condition is poor and it was added to the register in 2012.
Built in 1874, the Victoria Swing Bridge once provided a useful link between the docklands either side of the mouth of the Water of Leith. Now in a derelict state, the swing bridge was added to the Buildings at Risk register in 2018.
There were plans to transform the remaining buildings of Shrubhill’s former tramways depot for residential use, but these have been on hold for the best part of a decade. The B-listed, red sandstone former depot was added to the Buildings at Risk register in 2012.
Formerly a police station, this quaint, castellated Romanesque structure at 55 Abbeyhill was built in 1896 to the designs of city architect Robert Morham. It was added to the Buildings at Risk register in 2012.
Controversial plans to transform Thomas Hamilton’s 1829 Greek Revival former Royal High School building into a hotel are still up in the air. Various elements of the building are at risk, including the main building, the eastern and western pavilions, the school lodge and the gymnasium.
Originally built in the 1930s when Leith was importing vast quantities of grain, this B-listed building rests at the head of Imperial Dock and is noted as being one of the earliest examples in Scotland of a concrete grain elevator. It has been on the Buildings at Risk register since 2012.
Consent to demolish the historic farm workers’ cottages at Ravenscroft Street in Gilmerton is currently being pursued by housing developers. The mostly derelict cottages were added to the at risk register in 2005.
This 252ft-wide remnant of Granton's industrial past dates back to 1902. The gas holder was added to Buildings at Risk register in 2013.
Despite being brought into use again in recent years, the future remains uncertain for Leith's 1932-built theatre. The theatre was added to the Buildings at Risk register in 2010.
Founded in the 1840s, Warriston Cemetery contains a number of important architectural and sculptural monuments. The dilapidated graveyard was added to the Buildings at Risk register in 2009.
Dating from the 1860s, the neglected former St James’s Episcopal Church and Hall on Constitution Street is a neo-gothic icon of Leith. The building was added to the Buildings at Risk register way back in 1990.