Understanding the West End
This heritage trail of Edinburgh’s West End invites visitors to meet the West Enders of the past.
It has been produced as a partnership between Edinburgh World Heritage and Edinburgh’s West End Business Improvement District, with support from the City of Edinburgh Council.
The aim is to encourage more visitors to explore the historic streets of the West End, a key part of the city’s World Heritage Site.
The trail reveals links with some famous people like:
- Dr Joseph Bell, who provided the inspiration for Conan Doyle’s fictional character Sherlock Holmes
- Samuel Peploe, the well-known artist and leading light of the Scottish colourists
It also highlights less well-known West Enders such as:
- William Fielding, a Turkish Bath entrepreneur from New York who opened an establishment in Stafford Street
- Janet Story, whose memoirs give a valuable insight into high society life in late-Georgian Melville Street
- Mary Dunlop, who travelled the streets of the West End with her barrel organ on a small cart, pulled by her white horse Smoky
Stops along the way:
- The Gladstone Memorial commemorates the famous Victorian Prime Minister.
- The Melville Monument commemorates the British statesman Robert Dundas 2nd Viscount Melville.
- Charlotte Square designed by the architect Robert Adam in 1791 and regarded as a masterpiece of urban planning.
- St George’s West, a grand baroque styled church built between 1866-9. Its 56m tall spire is a landmark on the Edinburgh skyline.
- St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral built 1873-9 and designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott. Its three gothic spires form a distinctive part of Edinburgh’s skyline.
- Horse & Rider, a large stylised bronze sculpture by the artist Eoghan Bridge.
- Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, a must-see venue for modern and contemporary art and home to fantastic sculpture parks.
- Dean Village, a picturesque location on the banks of the Water of Leith, once the centre of the milling industry.
- The Caledonian Hotel opened in 1903 as a luxury hotel for the Caledonian Railway. Many features from the old station still survive inside, such as the station clock in Peacock Alley.
- Drumsheugh Baths built in 1882, and designed with an interesting façade with Moorish detailing.
- Drumsheugh Toll, a quirky building dating from 1891, designed as a studio house for an artist in a Tudor style.
- Dean Bridge, an impressive piece of engineering, designed by Thomas Telford and opened in 1833. It soars 106 feet above the valley below, with four arches each 96 feet in span.
- Rutland Square, a tranquil square of Georgian townhouses built in 1819.
- St Johns Church built between 1816-18 and designed by William Burn in the ‘Perpendicular Gothic’ style.
- Melville Street designed in 1814 as the principal street of the West End development.
- St Cuthbert’s Church often known as ‘the Kirk below the Castle’, designed in 1895 but incorporating a Georgian tower and steeple.