By Chris_P

Wide on Wednesday- ’A near miss on Princes Street’

Princes Street, Edinburgh, overlooking the Castle and the Old Town as it is, is unusual for a city’s main street because practically all its buildings - and all of its shops - are on just one side. 

The resulting lack of retail space, combined with the very mixed architectural styles that had developed in the previous hundred plus years, led to proposals in the 1940s and 50s for the complete redevelopment of the street with Modernist buildings incorporating a walkway at first-floor level, thereby adding shopping frontage away from traffic and doubling its total length! 

In the 1960s work had started, resulting in the demolition of seven buildings, and the erection of seven new ones, before the approach was dropped a decade later. Isolated sections of elevated walkway remain.

Today’s wide Wednesday blip shows the shopfronts on the site of two of the demolished buildings - both Italianate masterpieces - the New Club, Scotlands oldest private social club founded in 1787, and The Life Association of Scotland building. Both the Nelson Monument and ‘Edinburgh’s Disgrace’ - the unfinished classical temple, can be seen on Calton Hill in the distance.

The New Club is one of the less brutalist replacements; the building next door is more typical. It was rebuilt on the same site as its previous building, though it’s entrance is now right next to the Ann Summers shop! Despite the modernist exterior, it retains a bit of an old world atmosphere inside, including wooden panelling from the original building. You can get a glimpse through the second floor window.

More information on this ‘near miss’ here:-

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