Victoria Street

Victoria Street

Victoria Street, Edinburgh

The history of Victoria Street

Victoria Street, a picturesque and winding cobblestone lane, is one of Edinburgh’s most iconic thoroughfares. Prior to its construction, access from the Grassmarket to the Lawnmarket was via the West Bow, a very steeply sloped and narrow lane. The new street was planned to demolish much of the old West Bow, and provide a broad sweeping link to the newly built George IV Bridge.

Cultural significance

Victoria Street, a picturesque and winding cobblestone lane, is one of Edinburgh’s most iconic thoroughfares. Named after Queen Victoria, it exudes a timeless charm that resonates with both locals and visitors. With its colourful facades and unique shops, this street showcases Edinburgh’s architectural diversity and historical legacy.

Why is it important to Edinburgh?

Victoria Street was designed by architect Thomas Hamilton, one of the leading lights in transforming the city with neo-classical buildings and much influenced by the architecture of ancient Greece. However it was stipulated that the buildings associated with the new street should be ‘Old Flemish’ in style, and draw inspiration from the details on Heriot’s Hospital.

Key features:

Curved Elegance: Victoria Street’s graceful curve adds a touch of whimsy to its architectural splendour. This unique feature invites exploration and offers surprises at every turn.

Boutiques and Curiosities: The street is lined with an eclectic mix of boutiques, galleries, and specialty shops. From vintage treasures to contemporary crafts, it’s a treasure trove for discerning shoppers.

Gastronomic Delights: Victoria Street boasts a diverse array of eateries, ranging from charming cafes to fine dining establishments.

Key events

India Buildings on Victoria Street was built in 1864 by architect David Cousins and designed in the fashionable Scots Baronial style of the time. Look out for the ‘bartizan’ at the top of the building, a small turret inspired by medieval battlements. It was intended as office space, and among the first occupants were the British Linen Bank, the Scottish Chamber of Agriculture and the Geological Survey of Scotland. In more recent years many Edinburgh citizens will remember the building as housing the city’s Registry Office.

Additional information

Victoria Street was built between 1829 and 1834 as part of a series of improvements to the Old Town, with the aim of improving access around the city.
The street is home to a number of unusual shops, and undoubtedly the most famous business in the street was Robert Cresser’s brush shop, first established in 1873 and finally closing in 2004. The shop barely changed in all those years, with a dark Dickensian atmosphere inside with a wooden counter and bare floor. Brushes of all shapes and descriptions were displayed outside, as well as hanging from the ceiling and stuffed on to shelves. In the unlikely event that a brush required was not available, it could even be made to order.
Victoria Street winds its way through the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, connecting the Grassmarket with George IV Bridge.

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