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- Category: A
- Date Added: 15/06/1965
- Local Authority: Edinburgh
- Planning Authority: Edinburgh
- Burgh: Edinburgh
National Grid Reference
- NGRNT 24054 73906
- Coordinates324054, 673906
Sydney Mitchell and Wilson, 1883'6 with later repairs and rennovation 2009. 4- and 5-storey with some attics; significant complex of 54 flats and separate former common hall (Woodbarn Hall), Renaissance Freestyle. Roughly rectangular plan set around central courtyard, in picturesque setting beside the Water of Leith. Coursed squared rubble with red sandstone dressings. Deep overhanging eaves; various crowstepped and shaped gables, some advanced. Large round arched pend to N with red sandstone dressings and red brick vault. Roughly regular fenestration, with some bipartite windows. Some rectangular dormers to attic with catslide roofs.
Predominantly small pane glazing in timber sash and case windows. Pitched roof with some catslides; red clay tiles. Coped rubble gable end and ridge stacks, predominantly modern cans. Cast-iron rainwater goods.
INTERIOR: characterised by a series of small flats accessed off common stairs. Large arched openings to landings with cast-iron railings incorporating thistle pattern to spikes. Stairs predominantly brick with curved handrails. Flats predominantly 1 or 2 rooms with small kitchens and bathrooms.
WOODBARN HALL: large detached rectangular plan hall with central tower. Moulded cill course at 1st floor. Prominent corbelled canted transomed and mullioned 4-light bays to S with tall conical tiled roofs. Roughly regular fenestration. TOWER: large tower to centre with prominent clock-face to S and E sides; corbelled crenellated parapet; arcaded timber louvers above with shaped leaded roof and cast-iron weathervane.
BOUNDARY WALLS: coursed random rubble with sandstone ashlar copes.
Statement of Special Interest
Well Court is a fine example of a picturesque composition, exploiting its prominent site on the Water of Leith. It forms a significant example of 19th century social housing, designed by a high profile architect, A G Sydney Mitchell. The building was commissioned by John R Findlay, the proprietor of the Scotsman newspaper, as social housing for artisans and tradesmen from the Dean Village. The flats were leased for affordable rents in return for the tenants respecting rules of temperance and attendance at Church on Sundays. The design had several other social measures, including the provision of a common hall for reading and recreation. A factor's house was also placed in the central courtyard. The building was an act of social benefaction on the part of Findlay, to help the occupants of the Dean Village after the large mills which had sustained the population began to move out of the area in the late 19th century. The building also had a significant function in improving the amenity of the area and took account of earlier traditional buildings in the area. Findlay's house at 3 Rothesay Terrace (see separate listing) overlooked the Dean Village, and Well Court.
Arthur George Sydney Mitchell was an important Scottish architect of the later 19th century. The work for Well Court and 3 Rothesay Terrace were amongst the earliest of his commissions in independent practice and some of the best examples of his major residential works. Mitchell met Findlay through his father who was an eminent public figure. Shortly afterwards (again possibly through the influence of his father) Mitchell was appointed the architect to the Commercial Bank of Scotland. Later, after taking on George Wilson as a partner the practice also became architects to the Board of Lunacy for Scotland. Mitchell was an excellent designer, equally comfortable with public and private works and a master at combining various architectural styles.
A programme of repair and renovation was completed in 2009 with the assistance of Edinburgh World Heritage.
List description revised as part of resurvey (2009).
Ordnance Survey, Large Scale Town Plan (1893-4); J G Bartholomew, Plan of Edinburgh and Leith, from Survey Atlas of Scotland, (1912); J Gifford, C McWilliam, D M Walker, The Buildings of Scotland: Edinburgh (1988) p. 394; RCAHMS 81580 PO, Ink Plans, (1889).
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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