25 Mar 2009
£20m National Photography Centre proposal abandoned
CEC design competition inviting developers to submit proposals for the former Royal High School building. the Development Brief suggests it could be turned into a hotel, restaurant and tourist centre.
The charity Hill Adamson Trust has now withdrawn its lottery bid for the National Photography Centre proposal. CEC have transferred the £1m funding allocation for the photography centre into its capital projects budget.
The School is a potent symbol for Scots, esp. Nationalists as it was set to hold the Debating Chamber when Scotland had its first independence referendum in the 70's; the building is generally held in high esteem.
Located on the southern edge of Calton Hill, the Royal High School of Edinburgh was designed by Thomas Hamilton and built in 1825-9. By that time Edinburgh's New Town was well advanced and this was the only suitable site left. The Greek Doric columns are based on the Temple of Theseus, overlooking Athens.
After the school had moved to modern accommodation towards the end of the 20th century, the large oval main hall was set up as a debating chamber for a projected Scottish Assembly in the late 1970s but that did not materialise. The school was again considered as the site for the new Scottish Parliament in 1999, but was rejected in favour of a new buuilding on a site in Holyrood.
Sir Walter Scott was a former Royal High School pupil in its former location in the Old Town. The Royal High School has been based at four different sites. The building now occupied by the Department of Archaeology was built by Alexander Laing in 1777. James Pillans invented the blackboard and coloured chalks at the High School.
By 1820 the Royal High School's space had become insufficient for growing population, and, with the New Town development, there was a new and redefined catchment area. The Royal High School in 1829 relocated to the south side of Calton Hill. In 1832 the former school building re-opened as a Surgical Hospital, in which the University of Edinburgh held its Anatomy classes (Lister worked here between 1869 and 1877).
The Royal High School is currently located in Barnton on the west edge of Edinburgh: www.royalhigh.edin.sch.uk
Royal High School Edinburgh - Redevelopment:
One of the proposed new uses for this building was a Scottish Assembly in the 1970s. However, The Royal High School building (the Chamber but also the ancillary spaces) was viewed to be too small when Devolution finally came to fruition though Calton Hill (St Andrew's House accretion) was one of the sites for the Scottish Parliament Competition. See the Scottish Parliament page.
Proposals are afoot at the time of writing for a Scottish National Photography Centre (or 'Scottish Museum of Photography') in the the former Royal High School. In Sep 2004 Sony UK Ltd's sponsorship of the Scottish National Photography Centre was announced - planned to be located in the former Royal High School site.
Royal High School Edinburgh - Educational History:
The Royal High School: is one of a series of Edinburgh schools - such as Donaldson's, John Watson's - that were built prior to the Education Act of 1872. This building ceased to be a school in 1968 and was eventually purchased by the City of Edinburgh Council.
Royal High School: National Centre of Photography The building needs around £1m essential upgrade/maintenance to ensure it has a use of 'national significance'. Edinburgh City councillors have been urged to back plans to turn the Royal High School: into a national centre of photography.
Council leader Donald Anderson maintained they did however have two potential uses.