James Milne, 1821-2; completed Adam Ogilvie Turnbull, 1828-34; later additions and alterations. 2- and 3-storey, 3-bay, townhouses (some converted to flats) forming half of uncompleted U-plan terrace around central communal garden. Droved sandstone ashlar to front elevation; squared, coursed sandstone to sides and rear; polished ashlar dressings. Base course, band course; rusticated ground floors; eaves cornice; blocking courses to Nos 1, 5 and 9-15. Steps and flying platts crossing basement areas.
Timber-panelled front doors with fanlights. Variety of glazing patterns (predominantly 12-pane; some lying-pane; some plate glass and 4-pane) in timber sash and case windows. Coped ridge stacks with predominantly yellow clay cans. Double-pitched roofs with ashlar-coped skews and grey slate.
NUMBERS 1-6: James Milne, 1821. 2-storey, basement and attic terrace. Numbers 1 and 5 slightly advanced with giant Ionic pilasters.. Blind ground and 1st floor windows to gable of No 1. Mansard roof to No 3; piend-roofed canted dormers to No 5 (added 1882). Cast-iron balconies to 1st floor windows of Nos 1 & 4 at front elevation; and to some rear elevation windows of Nos 1, 2, 5 & 6.
INTERIORS: all houses have cantilevered stone staircases with cast-iron balusters and retain room layout of principal floors. Nos 1-2 have some original plasterwork; original plaster cornices intact in all other houses. No 3 retains some original fireplaces. Nos 4-6 retain most original features, including most fireplaces, circular cupola over staircases and basement layout. Nos 5 and 6 have fine bow-ended dining rooms with curved doors. NUMBERS 7-8 (STRATHEARN HOUSE): James Milne, 1821; remodelled by James Ingram, 1918-19 to form a school; converted to flats later 20th century. 3-storey and basement pair of houses. Later upper storey with parapet and central tablet inscribed STRATHEARN HOUSE.
INTERIOR: largely remodelled. Original cantilevered staircase retained in No 7 & and partially retained (from 1st to upper floor) in No 8. Drawing room fireplace retained in No 7.
NUMBERS 9-14: Adam Ogilvie Turnbull, 1828-34. 3-storey, and basement terrace with curved frontage from No 11 onwards. Numbers 9 & 10 and 5 slightly advanced with architraved 1st floor windows. Semicircular cast-iron 1st floor window balconies to all houses (various patterns, Nos 13-14 with anthemion leaf motif).
INTERIORS: All converted to flats except Nos 10 and 14, but generally retain original floor plan to principal floors, plasterwork and fireplaces. All retain cantilevered stone stairs with cast-iron banisters, mahogany hand-rails and cupolas; Nos 9 & 13 have cast-iron Butler's tray at 1st floor. Nos 11 onwards have much more generous staircases and entrance halls than lower numbers. Handsome coffered ceilings to dining and drawing rooms of Nos 13 and 14.
NUMBER 15: later 19th century. Exterior identical to Nos 9-14. Converted to flats mid 20th century and main stair removed. Back stair used as common stair.
BOUNDARY WALLS AND RAILINGS: spear-headed cast-iron railings to basement areas and steps; cast-iron lamp stands at regular intervals. High, coped, random-rubble garden walls to rear of houses.
RETAINING WALL AND RAILINGS TO COMMUNAL GARDEN: squared, coursed sandstone retaining wall with deep sandstone ashlar cope; spear-headed cast-iron railings above; cast-iron lamp stands at regular intervals. Cast iron gate.
Statement of Special Interest
A-Group with 25-32 Saxe Coburg Place and Dean Bank House. A well-conceived terraced group with good surviving interiors by the same architect who designed St Bernard's Crescent and Ann Street. Although Saxe Coburg Place is unfinished, it is a fine example of early 19th century town planning and is of significant importance as part of the Edinburgh New Town. The original intention to create a 'cul-de-sac' square was largely dictated by the lie of the land, but is nevertheless unusual for its time.
Plans for Saxe Coburg Place were drawn up by James Milne (see below) in 1821, when enthusiasm for building in the New Town was reaching its height. Milne's plan was originally for a closed-end rectangular layout with the houses in the centre and at each end slightly taller with giant Ionic pilasters, creating a unified effect. Work started straight away and numbers 1 and 2 had been built by the time of the publication of Kirkwood's map, which shows the rest of the intended layout outlined in red. Milne only completed Nos 1-8 and the scheme was taken over by Adam Ogilvie Turnbull in 1828. Turnbull completed Nos 28-32 to Milne's designs (although with rather more elaborate interior plasterwork and other fixtures), but redesigned the end of the square with 3-storey houses laid out on a curve. Numbers 9-14 and 23-4 were completed to this plan before Turnbull went bankrupt in 1834. Between the publication of the 1st and 2nd edition OS maps (but probably not simultaneously) No 15 was built to Turnbull's design and Nos 25-7 were built to Milne's design.
In the 20th century a number of internal alterations were carried out to the houses, although the rear elevations all remain remarkably unchanged with very few additions. Nos 7-8 were given a 3rd storey and converted to a school in 1918-19 by the architect James Ingram. Between the 1930s and 1970s a number of the houses were divided into flats, although this work, in most cases, was done relatively sympathetically, mostly retaining original staircases, room layout and ornamental features such as plasterwork and chimneypieces. No 14 was the first to be converted, in 1931 and was also the first to be restored as a single dwelling, in 1987. Drawings for the conversion are in the National Archives, ref RHP 140879.
James Milne designed several other architecturally notable streets in the Northern New Town, including St Bernard's Crescent, Ann Street, Danube Street and Calton Street. He is believed to have trained as a mason, but little else is known about him and his other work, except that he seems to have moved to Newcastle after 1834.
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