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Blind Asylum

at 58 Nicolson Street

then at Craigmillar Park

Blind Asylum, 58 Nicolson Street  -  1820

Engraving published in 'Old & New Edinburgh' 1890  -  The Blind Asylum, Nicolson Street

  For permission to reproduce, please contact peter.stubbs@edinphoto.org.uk

 

 Blind Asylum

From 1793

Shakespeare Square  THEN  Nicolson Street

Engraving

The engraving above of The Blind Asylum (formerly the house of Dr Joseph Black) was published in Grant's 'Old & New Edinburgh' in 1890.  The engraving shows a view of 58 Nicolson Street in 1820, after Storer.

1793

Grant's 'Old & New Edinburgh', commenting on  Nicolson Street, wrote:

"The most interesting building in the street is undoubtedly the Royal Blind Asylum and School, instituted in 1793. ..."

and

"... the asylum was founded in 1793, in one of the dingy old houses in Shakespeare Square, into which nine blind persons were received."

1806

The Society for the Industrious Blind acquired premises in Nicolson Street in 1806.  The  article in Grant's 'Old & New Edinburgh', continued:

" ... the public patronage having greatly increased, in 1806, the present building, No 58, was purchased, and in 1822, another house, No 38 was bought for the use of the female blind.

The latter are employed in sewing the covers for mattresses  and feather beds, knitting stockings &c.

The males are employed in making mattresses, mats, brushes, baskets of every kind, in weaving sacking, matting and "rag-carpets".  No less than eighteen looms are employed in this work."

Nicolson Street is a continuation of South Bridge, to the south.

Improvements appear to have been made to No 58 Nicolson Street,  some time between 1820 and 1890.  Several features of the building described in the 1890 article in 'Old & New Edinburgh' don't appear on the engraving above:

"a new and elegant facade, surmounted by stone-faced dormer windows, a handsome cornice, and balustrade, with a large central doorway, in a niche above which is a bust of David Johnstone, the founder, from the studio of the late Handyside Ritchie."

The workshops at Nicolson Street were extended in 1897, and continued to be used until 1923.  [RNIB web site]

Grant's 'Old & New Edinburgh, Vol 2:  pp 335-6, 340

 

 Royal Blind Asylum

From 1875

Nicolson Street AND Craigmillar Park

1875

In 1875, the Asylum for the Industrious Blind, following its amalgamation with the Home for the Female Blind, became (with Queen Victoria's permission) the Royal Blind Asylum.

1876

In 1876, the Royal Blind Asylum took over the Blind School and opened a new institution, The Royal Blind Asylum and School, at Craigmillar Park, West Craigmillar.

The Royal Blind Asylum and School is still at this address today, 2007. Craigmillar Park is a section of the road leading out of Edinburgh travelling south from the Bridges.  It is about a mile south of the of Nicolson Street. , beside the old suburban railway line where Newington Station once stood.

The gatehouse to the RNIB premises at Craigmillar Park is on the extreme left of the photo below, which looks to the north down Mayfield Gardens towards the centre of Edinburgh from Craigmillar Park.

Mayfield Gardens  -  Newington Station  -  Tram

This district where the asylum is situated, in Craigmillar Park, would probably now be described as Newington, rather than West Craigmillar.

 

 Reply

1.

Margaret Ferguson Burns

Thank you to Margaret Ferguson Burns, who taught at the Royal Blind School for 31 years until 2011, for contacting me after reading the notes above.

Margaret told me:

The Royal Blind Asylum and School

1. 

It was the Royal Blind Asylum and School that was still at Craigmillar Park when I wrote the paragraph headed '1876'. 

I mistakenly referred to the organisation as RNIB, but that's the English society for the blind.  I've corrected that now.

2. 

The Royal Blind Asylum and School has recently been renamed 'Royal Blind'.

3.

The Craigmillar Park Campus is currently for sale, and the site will close at the end of the current academic session, at the end of June, 2014.

The few pupils and staff who remain there, will then be moved to the Canaan Lane Campus in Morningside, Edinburgh.

Margaret Ferguson Burns:  September 11, 2013 (2 emails)

 

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Links to Other Pages

EdinPhoto - Home Page  Please send me an e-mail ...  with your questions, comments, suggestions or news.   At any time, you can search for a word  -  perhaps a photographer's name or a photographic topic.  The search will produce a list of pages on the EdinPhoto web site where this word appears.     At any time, you can search for a word  -  perhaps a photographer's name or a photographic topic.  The search will produce a list of pages on the EdinPhoto web site where this word appears.  

Photographs and Other Images  -  These include portraits of photographers  -  photographic outings -  Princes Street views  -  Newhaven Fishwives  -  etc.  Early Photography in Edinburgh  -  Talbot, Brewster, Hill & Adamson, Early Professional Photographers in Princes Street, etc.  Professional Photographers in Edinburgh  -  1840 to 1940  -  Their names, dates of business and studio addresses.  The Photographic Society of Scotland  -  1856 to 1873  -  Lectures, Exhibitions, Outings, etc.  The History of Edinburgh Photographic Society  -  1861 to date  -  Lectures, Exhibitions, Outings, Poems, etc.  EPS Publications - EPS Handwritten Records  -  Photographic Journals  -  Trade Directories  -  Books  -  etc.  Thanks to all who have encouraged and supported me in creating the EdinPhoto web site  -  including descendants of photographers  -  researchers  -  providers of photographs and other material  Background notes on the research thal led up to the creation of this site  -   together with lists of new material added to the site since its launch.  Brief comments on how this site might be used  -  Just browsing?  -  Seeking specific information?  Please add your questions, suggestions or other comments to the Guest Book.  Links to other web sites  -  Photographic Societies  -  Photographic History  -  Family History  -  etc.  Click here to find the link to the Edinburgh Photogrpahic Society web site.

 

A selection of my photographs, many from Edinburgh throughout the year.   Also photos from Scotland, London, Iceland, Italy, Hong Kong and elsewhere     Many old maps of Edinburgh (Old Town, New Town, while City), Leith and Newhaven.  Includes several old transport maps and a comparison of old maps with recent aerial photos.   Old engravings, mailly of Edinburgh scenes.  Some from the 1820s, some from the 1890s,  some others - includes many hand-coloured examples from the 1820s.   News from Edinburgh today  -  Events, Collections, Buildings and Gardens, Transport   This site includes     1. Post card portraits taken in studios in Edinburgh:    2. Post card views either takeen/published by Ediburgh photographers or views of Edinburgh, or both.y Edinburgh    Views of Edinburgh, grouped into three sections:     1. Street views:    2. Buildings:    3. Around Edinburgh   Views of transport around Edinburgh  -  Horse drawn trams and buses, cable cars, electric trams, buses and a few railway photos.  Also several maps of Edinburgh's bus and tram routes.   Links to pages with Photos of Groups   Frequently Asked Questions

  Summary of the updates added to this site each month since the site was launched   Links to Dumbiedykes pages  Link to Granton pages  Link to Leith pages   Link to Newhaven pages   Links to Portobello pages   Link to My Recent Talks