"Stolid and cosy, and highly picturesque"
Our premises were originally known as Lynedoch House, built on the site of the former Drumsheugh Toll and were designed by Sir George Washington Browne in 1891, in a free Tudor style. The base-course also features thistles for Hardie and eagles for his American first wife, Mary Hardie Lewis (1871 - 1898).
The building is mentioned in a number of architectural digests of the time.
"A well detailed picturesque studio house designed for Martin Hardie RSA (1858 -1916) making clever use of the steeply sloping site. The design is an excellent response to the site with a striking juxtaposition of elements to the S elevation and large windows high up on the elevation facing N to provide the ideal lighting for an artist’s studio". (Historic Scotland)
A view of the front of the building, showing the crenellated tower and Tudor-style eaves.
Detailing on the base course
"The steep site is brilliantly exploited. It is stolid and cosy towards Belford Road, with broad eaves, a squat crenellated tower, a four-light half-timbered bay-window to the West, and a canopy over the door in the angle; highly picturesque towards Bell's Brae, with more half-timbering, a big studio-windowed gable, a red sandstone octagonal turret and a dizzily elevated balcony (the terrace was partly reconstructed and extended in 1975). The detail has much charm, e.g. the cement base-course stamped diaper-fashion with a Gothic capital H and thistles, the beautifully leaded glass and a modicum of iron-work." ('The Buildings of Edinburgh', Gifford et al, Penguin 1984, page 396).
The building is now divided into three parts. The eastern section, which includes Hardie's former studio, is a private residence. The ground floor, once home to the Waddell School of Music, is now office accommodation. The Edinburgh Society of Musicians occupies the split-level first floor, consisting of a recital room with leaded-glass bay window overlooking Dean Village and the Water of Leith, a cosy bar, a lounge, an artist's room with leaded windows overlooking Belford Road, and a small mezzanine room.
The Old Toll House
The current building incorporates the toll-house which predates it. Before the Dean Bridge was built by Thomas Telford and opened in 1832, the road to Queensferry ran along what is now called Belford Road, crossing the Water of Leith at Belford Bridge. Tolls for the use of the road were collected at a toll-house which stood on this site. It was partly incorporated into the design and construction of the present building, which dates from 1891. The architect was Sir George Washington Browne (1853 -1939), who also designed the Central Public Library on George IV Bridge, the Royal Hospital for Sick Children and The Caledonian Hotel. He may have been acting for two clients. The person concerned with the three floors below the level of Belford Road was James "Cabbie" Stewart, who ran a cab-hiring business from the house on Dean Bridge. His horses were stabled in two of the lower floors, entered from Bell's Brae.