Shakespeare Square

Looking across Waverley Valley to Shakespeare Square

When was this photo taken?

Shakespeare Square  -  Photograph by Tunny

Reproduced with acknowledgement to National Museums Scotland.                                                Photographer:  James Good Tunny


Shakespeare Square


This view looks across the railway in Waverley Valley towards Shakespeare Square.

Shakespeare Square is the block of old buildings close to the railway, centre-left, that were demolished to enable the General Post Office to be built on the corner of Waterloo Place and North Bridge.

Register House at the East End of Princes Street can be seen on the extreme left of this photo.

The arch taking Calton Road under Waterloo Place can be seen on the right of the picture



Date of the Photo

This photo has been provided by National Museums Scotland.  It was taken by James Good Tunny who had studios in Edinburgh from around 1852.

National Museums Scotland are keen to discover the date of this photo, as accurately as possible.  There may be several clues as to the date in the photo.

The thumbnail images below are links two larger copies of this photo.  They may be helpful in providing more details to be examined.

Please email me if you can help to date this photo.

Thank you.  -  Peter Stubbs

Shakespeare Square  -  Photograph by Tunny

Larger Photo  -  sepia

   Shakespeare Square  -  Photograph by Tunny

Largest Photo - black and white

You may need to scroll across the screen
and down to view this one




John J Hadden


Thank you to John Hadden who wrote, telling me that this is a small area of the city that has interested him in the past, since he discovered that his great-grandfather, Thomas Wallace, was born there in 1855.

John wrote:

Duke of Wellington Statue

"The Duke of Wellington's statue is visible in front of Register House.  I understand that the statue was erected in 1852."

Streets, Walls and Railway

"The layout of the streets, walls and railway lines seem a very close match to the oldest Edinburgh street plan (1849-53) on the National Libraries web site.

Even some of the smaller sheds and the railway turntable, can be recognised on the plan."

Paton's Hotel

"Shakespeare Square was known for being a place with several taverns and hotels, as well as the theatre.  It had a bit of a reputation for being 'lively'.

One building is clearly identified as Paton's Hotel.  However on the above street plan this building is identified as "Red Lion Hotel".

The Edinburgh Gazette includes an item dated 12th April 1850 that refers to: 'Mr Alexander Paton, Wine and Spirit Merchant, Shakespeare Square, Edinburgh'.

If this is the same Paton as in the hotel name, then he may have been in business in Shakespeare Square in 1850 then taken over the 'Red Lion' at a later date."


"I was wondering if there could be a particular reason why Tunny took this particular view at this time.   I wonder if it was perhaps related to the announcement to build the GPO, and this may have been a commission to capture an image of an area.

Checking in the Edinburgh Gazette, the announcement of the intention to compulsory purchase and demolish these buildings, then build the new GPO was dated 12th November 1857."

John added:

"Something else that doesn't help date things, but may be of interest, is that the building at the top right was the old GPO."

John J Hadden, New Town, Edinburgh:  June 2, 2008




Alasdair Mckay

Burlington, Ontario, Canada

Thank you to Alasdair Mckay who wrote:


"In regard to the dating of the photograph at the East End of Princes Street, it may be the the late 1850's.

The foundation stone of the G.P.O. was laid in October 23rd. 1861.  So it was prior to that."

Duke of Wellington Statue

"The Wellington statue in front of Register House was unveiled in June 1852 and can be seen in the upper-left-hand corner of the photograph."

Theatre Royal

"The last performance of the Theatre Royal in Shakespeare Square was on May 25th. 1859 prior to the theatre being demolished."

Alasdair Mckay, Burlington, Ontario, Canada::  June 2, 2008


James Good Tunny

Around Edinburgh