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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Graveyard walls
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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.

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