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Listed Building

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site only. All other information in the record is not statutory.


Status: Designated


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  • Category: A
  • Group Category Details: A - (see NOTES)
  • Date Added: 04/06/2003


  • Local Authority: Edinburgh
  • Planning Authority: Edinburgh
  • Burgh: Edinburgh

National Grid Reference

  • NGRNT 24696 75491
  • Coordinates324696, 675491


G A H Pearce, architect to Ministry of Public Buildings and Works, Scotland, 1967 (see Notes). 420 ft long greenhouse on sloping site with unattached wing to NW connecting with 1854 Palm House; basement to E end of main greenhouse. Sloping sides and pitched roof; steel frame, aluminium alloy glazing bars and doors, and glass. Main structure suspended on steel cables from an external tetrahedral lattice framework of inter-linked 3 inch diameter steel tubes which project upwards from the eaves; main tubes interlaced by thin rods. Concrete base. Exposed basement to centre with large windows between fin-shaped concrete piers to N and S. Battered concrete-clad wall to E. Entrances to gable ends with aluminium glazed doors and flat rectangular canopies. Deck-access to E end and N; external concrete staircase to N from basement to main level with large rectangular canopy.

INTERIOR: main greenhouse divided into 5 sections by steel and glass partitions; central temperate section with exposed basement and concrete footbridge at main-floor level across N side.

Statement of Special Interest

A-Group with Head Gardener's Cottage, Inverleith House, 1858 Palm House and 1834 Palm Stove, Linnaeus Monument, Caledonian Horticultural Society Hall, and the Laboratory and Lecture Hall Buildings at 20a Inverleith Row. The Royal Botanic Garden is included in the Inventory Of Gardens And Designed Landscapes In Scotland, Site Number 216.

The innovative design of the greenhouse was largely due to the Curator of the garden, Dr E.E. Kemp, who insisted that the supporting structure was to be kept entirely on the outside of the greenhouse, thereby allowing the maximum amount of light in, and creating a totally unimpeded interior space. According to Fletcher and Brown, "The building of these houses was the most important event in the annals of glasshouse construction since the nineteenth century works of Joseph Paxton and the construction of the Kew Palm House". The exposed basement at the centre allows tall trees to be grown. The architect, G A H Pearce, was assisted by J Johnson. The structural engineers were L R Creasy and J W Walley, and the Mechanical and Electrical Engineers were A D McDougall and T Dowie. The greenhouse cost #263,000 to build, which, as the authorities were eager to point out, was only slightly more than it would have cost to have the old Edwardian greenhouses repaired.



Plans in the NMRS, ref. PSA/R/95/3-9P. THE SCOTSMAN, 9th February 1965; 4th July 1966; 26th October 1967. BUILDING INDUSTRIES (periodical), March 1965 and March 1967. PARK ADMINISTRATION, January 1968, Volume 33, No1. COUNTRY LIFE, 28th February 1974, pp42-44. Fletcher and Brown, THE ROYAL BOTANIC GARDEN, EDINBURGH 1670-1970 (1970), pp263-266. Glendinning, MacInnes and MacKechnie, A HISTORY OF SCOTTISH ARCHITECTURE (1996), pp465-6.

About Designations

Listed Buildings

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest and these are selected according to criteria published in the, Annex 2, pp74-76.

The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

Enquiries relating to works to listed buildings should be made to the local authority in the first instance. Listed building consent is required for works which a local authority considers will affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest and local authorities also decide if listed building consent is required.

Listing covers both the exterior and the interior. Listing can cover structures not mentioned which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The local authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. For information about curtilage see

Legislation introduced on 1 October 2015 allows us to state that: an object or structure fixed to the listed building; any object or structure within the curtilage of the listed building; and, any part or feature of the listed building that is not of architectural or historic interest may be excluded from a listing. If part of your building is not listed under the new legislation, the part will be excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.

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