An unexpected find

I am deep in dissertation chaos – which sadly is chaotic, and not producing many words.
But since I’ve been going through a list of books from an early 19th century library, it has all been impeccably Age of Sail. And one thing that jumped out at me was

Golownin’s (Captain) Narrative of his Captivity and Observations on Japan: to which is added an Account of Voyages to the Coast of Japan, &c. by Captain Rikord

Golovnin, of course, is the Russian captain who Stephen Maturin meets in Cape Town in The Mauritius Command, but it had never occurred to me before then that he was a real person, never mind that he might have written a book. He seems to have written one about the Cape Town trip as well, but that’s not in my library!

There are various other naval books and stories in the list, but the other thing that jumped out at me, as the catalogue is roughly alphabetical within its subjects, was theĀ  juxtaposition on the same page, of the ‘Trials’ of several United Irishmen, and of ‘Charles Random de Bernenger, Lord Cochrane, The Hon. Andrew Cochrane Johnstone, Richard Gathorne Butt, Ralph Sandom, Alexander McRae, John Peter Holloway, and Henry Lyte, for Conspiracy’.

Waterloo Place and Regent Road

I really didn’t meant to go quiet for so long, but between trips away and not being well and general chaos it just happened. Oh well.

I only had a very local adventure this weekend, and very definitely Age rather than Sail – but with these names, it certainly has perfect Regency credentials!

Waterloo Place is the end of Princes Street heading east – seemlessly linked, but well outside the original New Town grid. It’s still technically the A1 – the Great London Road – although most people heading south now would do it from the bypass. But this is the original way into Edinburgh from the coast road, and in the early 19th century it was just a muddle of little roads, blocked by the bulk of Calton Hill (a place which I’ll come back to another day).

The grand entrance is a bit spoilt by traffic lights these days, but it was obviously designed as an entrance, with pillars on either side of the road.

Waterloo Place entrance

From that view it really doesn’t look like a bridge at all, but from underneath the view is very different – this is more or less the line of the original road from the village of Calton, around the top of Leith Walk, towards the back of the Canongate in the old town.

Waterloo Place from below

This is one of the places where the old and the new towns still meet very closely – up above everything is elegant, but down at the Calton Road level it really isn’t.

The old town below

The only sign left of the original village is the street – originally High Calton, now Calton Hill – which runs up from ground level to the graveyard they made on the hill, when they’d had enough of carrying their dead to Leith, and a lovely muddle of old houses at the top of it, again definitely old town rather than new. It also gives an idea of the up and down journey from Princes Street to the east before the bridge was built.

High Calton

The new road was built between 1815 and 1819 – hence the names – and cut right through the old graveyard, so that some of the bodies had to be moved to a new graveyard about half a mile away. A good part of the street is lined by the graveyard walls.

Graveyard walls
Graveyard sign

The bridge has beautiful decorative arches on either side, on the north commemorating Waterloo and the Lord Provost and architect, and on the south the opening of the road by Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg.