1898-1903, Blyth & Westland. 2-and 4-storey Italianate office buildings to former station complex. L-plan, with 17 and 21-bay frontages to Leith Walk and Duke Street respectively, 3-bay curved corner with original entrance doors and square 2-stage clock tower at wallhead above. Leith Walk elevation with 3-bay return to S end. Polished sandstone ashlar with shopfronts at ground floor, some with painted finish and minor alterations. Intermittent base course between shop windows, stop-chamfered surrounds with roll-mouldings to ground floor openings. String course, frieze, dentilled cornice and band course over shopfronts. String course at 1st floor cill level, bracketted cornice, band course and parapet at roof level of 2-storey section. Parapet decorated with panelled dies between bays, ball finials at corners. Plain cornice at eaves of 4-storey section, blocking course above. 2-storey elevations framed at ends by channelled pilasters. Evenly spaced windows, round-arched at 1st floor with aprons, moulded architraves with impost blocks and keystones. 2nd floor windows architraved with bracketted, corniced cills and cornices over. 3rd floor windows architraved with corniced cills.
N (DUKE STREET) ELEVATION: facade comprised of adjoining 4-and 2-storey buildings of 14 and 7 bays respectively giving 21-bay street frontage. 4-storey section angled slightly between bays 4 and 5. Windows at ground floor, bay 20, with bracketted, corniced cill, lugged architraved with curvilinear dentilled cornice over. Blank gable ends to 4-storey block except for single window in E gable.
CORNER (LEITH WALK AND DUKE STREET) SECTION: 3 bays, symmetrical except for window inserted to left of entrance doorpiece. Framing of channelled pilasters, missing ball finials to right. 2-arch doorpiece at ground floor comprised of round-headed arches flanked by channelled pilasters, with capitals and bases, keystones at centres, cornice above with engaged, panelled, parapet above. Regular 1st floor fenestration, base course to clock tower, with scrolled brackets at corners, lower stage channelled, band course above. Blocking course base to upper stage architraved clock faces, pilasters at corners with capitals and bases. Architrave, cornice and frieze above supporting octagonal, ribbed dome, ball finial at corners, finials at apex.
W (LEITH WALK) ELEVATION: as above, except for window in 1st bay matching that in 20th bay on N elevation. 9-panelled timber entrance doors at each side of public house with small inner door for staff entry.
Plate glass timber sash and case windows to upper floors, modern glazing at ground, roughly conforming to original pattern. Grey-slated roofs, shallow-pitched and piended at 2-storey block. Cast-iron downpipes to 4-storey block. Stacks to 2-storey building with bracketted cornices. 2 wallhead stacks, multi-flue apex stacks at gables and centring ridge of 4-storey building, all corniced.
INTERIOR OF CENTRAL BAR: Peter L Henderson, 1899. Mosaic floor to lobbies bearing the words 'The Central Bar' and 7 and 9 respectively; 2-leaf timber inner doors with arched panelling and etched glass. Coloured leaded glass in free patterns in upper lobby walls and windows. Highly elaborate Classical style interior. Tiled walls (tiles by Minton Hollins & Co, Stoke on Trent), with inset vertical rectangular panels of mirrors, ornamental panels and 4 scenes of sporting activities which include yacht racing at the Cowes Regatta golf represented by a picture of the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, hare coursing and hunting with pointers. Tiled foliage scrollwork frieze; egg and dart moulding, modillion course. Jacobethan-style lincrusta to compartmented ceiling. U-shaped bar counter with paired Corinthian pilasters, curved reeded frieze and glazed timber partitions. Elaborate arcaded gantry against back wall with 4 carved griffins supporting deep architrave; low island gantry. 4 deep bays of U-plan fixed seating to left of bar; carved timber chimneypiece to right.
INTERIOR OF NORTHERN BAR (at 2-6 Duke Street): broad frieze with classical figures in landscape below cornice.
Statement of Special Interest
A very fine example of late 19th century railway architecture, incorporating important public house interior. With its long continuous frontage running round the corner from Leith Walk into Duke Street, this building makes an important contribution to the streetscape of Leith. The prominent corner clock tower, the unbroken row of round-arched windows on both the 2-storey and 4-storey sections and the parapet with ball finials on the 2-storey section are particularly fine. The station was opened in 1903 by the North British Railway Company and was intended to relieve Waverley Station of some of its suburban traffic. The journey to Waverley took seven minutes and initially cost one penny, earning it the name 'the penny jump'.
The Central Bar is largely unaltered and is one of Edinburgh's most elaborate Edwardian public house interiors. The interior is particularly striking. It has a high ceiling and with decorative tiles floor to ceiling with sporting scenes in panels used in combination with bevelled mirrors. The only other similar interior is that of the Kenilworth Bar in Rose Street, which is also high-ceilinged with tiled walls up to a high level, and was designed by Thomas Purves Marwick though it does not have any figurative scenes like the Central.
The architect of the Central Bar was Peter L B Henderson (1848-1912) who was trained as both architect and engineer and became a specialist in the design of breweries and public houses and related buildings for the licensed trade. He was in considerable demand as a designer of public houses and some of the most elaborate pub interiors in Edinburgh are from his hand. Henderson clearly ran a very successful practice. He was able to move from Archibald Place which served as both office and home in about 1880 to an office in George Street, then to a villa in Newington about 1903, and by 1909 to Juniper Green.
There are a number of trade-mark details of Henderson - such as the pilasters on the counter front and outward curving reeded upper edge. However the gantry with griffins is unique amongst Henderson's work. The gantry is of oak and again this is unusual. It should be noted that the bar fittings have been stripped of their original rich colour and would originally have matched the woodwork elsewhere in the pub.
The North British Railway Company acquired the site at the foot of Leith Walk in 1898 and drawings were drawn up in that year. There was an earlier bar of this name at the junction of Leith Walk and Duke Street and when the Railway Company acquired the site the proprietor, John Doig, was offered new larger premises in an advantageous position. The bar was completed in 1899 and the station was opened in 1903. Originally there was a stair from the rear of the bar to the platforms enabling patrons easy access to the station. Originally there were two small lounges at the rear of the main area. The station closed about 1950 and the trainshed was demolished in 1985 with a leisure centre now taking its place. List description updated as part of the Heritage Pubs Thematic Survey 2007-8.
Category changed from B to A in June 2008.
We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest and these are selected according to criteria published in the www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/shep-dec2011.pdf, Annex 2, pp74-76.
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