Walking tour: Ebeneezer MacRae

ONE of three tours that can be downloaded from a Scotland-wide menu of 12, this tour – on the website (here) of the Scottish Ecological Design Association – takes walkers from The Last Drop pub in the Grassmarket to The Pleasance / Richmond Place / West Richmond Street.

It is an estimated 1.5 miles in length.

Says SEDA: “Ebenezer MacRae was Edinburgh’s City Architect from 1925 to 1946, described by [the late] Charles McKean [former secretary and treasurer of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland], in ‘The Scottish Thirties’, as an ‘outstanding man’.

“In 1926, he assumed the additional responsibility for the planning and design of council housing, and by the time he retired his team had provided around 12,000 houses.

“This walk studies some of MacRae’s housing, principally his reconstruction and infill developments within the historic core of the city.

“MacRae was influenced by Patrick Geddes’ concept of ‘conservative surgery’, i.e. the incremental repair and reconstruction of historic areas of the city centre in contrast to the more radical ‘city improvement’ schemes exemplifed by Chambers Street. MacRae was deeply interested in, and knowledgeable about, the Old Town.

“After his retiral in 1946, he produced for the city council a study of the Old Town which became the foundation for the later listing of historic buildings and creation of conservation areas.”

The staging posts are: The Last Drop pub (Grassmarket), Heriot Cross (off the Grassmarket), Cowgatehead, Cowgatehead gap site (Candlemaker Row), two further stops on Candlemaker Row, Candlemakers’ Hall (Candlemaker Row), Dovecot Studios (Infimary Street) and The Pleasance / Richmond Place / West Richmond Street.

The other two Edinburgh tours on the SEDA website (here) are: Edinburgh urban expedition and Edinburgh colonies to the waterfront.

Pictured: Richmond Place

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