Historic cottage saved brick by brick 120


by Alexander Lawrie 

AN HISTORIC cottage is to be taken apart brick by brick and moved to a new home – less than two miles away.

The 18th century Botanic Cottage – once home to the head gardener of Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens – is in the way of a major new hotel development.

Campaigners are now hoping to secure funding to save the neglected building.

The Friends of Hopetoun Crescent Garden have already gained a £48,500 lottery grant to research the building’s past.

But they need more cash to dismantle the cottage so it can be moved.

Despite local pressure on the council in the 1990’s, the building was never listed.

The small house on Edinburgh’s Leith Walk was built in 1773, and was designed by renowned architect John Adam.

The cottage has major historical significance to the capital as it demonstrates the original level of the historic street.

Andrew Johnston, the project Chairman, said: “The cottage is of great significance to the history of the city and we are desperate to try and save and rebuild it.

“We have had a grant from the lottery to investigate the property already, but we are now embarking on a fundraising campaign to help with the next step of the operation.

“There is no definite cost as yet, but it could run to nearly a £100,000 to do it properly.

“We are also desperate for more information, such as who lived there in the years after the Gardens moved to Stockbridge, so if anybody has any information regarding that they should get in touch with us.”

Glasgow-based company Leith Walk Developments have included the cottage’s move as part of their plans to build a 175-room Radisson hotel on the site which used to house a petrol station and garages.

Henry Noltie, a senior botanist at the Royal Botanic Garden, said: “The cottage has an important place in our history, as it was an integral part of the Garden as built by Professor John Hope in 1764.

“We are concerned about the future of this building and have been in discussion with the Botanic Cottage Working Group.

“The group is trying to make sure that a careful archaeological survey is made of the building and its surrounding area.”

Colin McLean, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: “Our grant will mean that the secret histories of Botanic Cottage can be revealed and shared, and that people can learn about it long after the building itself has disappeared.”

Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens were moved to the Leith Walk site in 1764 as the previous gardens situated near to Holyrood Abbey were becoming too small.

The Gardens were originally set up in 1670 for the cultivation of medicinal plants which were used for experiments, the supply of specimens to students and the training of physicians and apothecaries.

In 1761 John Hope, Professor of Botany at Edinburgh University, was appointed to the post of the King’s Botanist in Scotland.

Hope used his family influence with the Earl of Bute, and later with the Duke of Portland, in securing the site.

And in 1763, the whole plant collection was moved to the Leith Walk site.

In its heyday the Garden included some of the first greenhouses to be built in Britain to protect plants found by tropical explorers.