Morningside, Edinburgh

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Morningside Clock, Edinburgh.jpg
Morningside Clock
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Location within Edinburgh
OS grid reference NT244708
Council area
Country Scotland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Edinburgh
Postcode district EH10
Dialling code 0131 (446, 447, 452)
Police Scotland
Fire Scottish
Ambulance Scottish
UK Parliament
Scottish Parliament
List of places
55°55′30″N3°12′34″W / 55.925061°N 3.209411°W / 55.925061; -3.209411 Coordinates: 55°55′30″N3°12′34″W / 55.925061°N 3.209411°W / 55.925061; -3.209411

Morningside is a district and former village in the south west of Edinburgh, Scotland. It lies alongside the main arterial Morningside Road, part of an ancient route from Edinburgh to the south west of Scotland. The original village served several farms and estates in the area. In the 19th century, it developed as a residential suburb, its growth being stimulated by the arrival of a railway service and other transport improvements.



Morningside is located approximately 2.5 kilometres (1.6 miles) south of Edinburgh's city centre. It is bordered by Bruntsfield to the north, the Grange to the north east, Blackford to the east, Comiston to the south, Greenbank to the south west, and Merchiston to the north west. It includes Braidburn Valley Park, the Royal Edinburgh Hospital and parts of the Braid Hills and Blackford Hill. [1]

The district is bisected by the A702 road, which forms part of an ancient route from Edinburgh to Biggar and the south west of Scotland.

The south eastern part of Morningside (approximately the area to the south of Canaan Lane and the east of Comiston Road) lies within the Morningside Conservation Area, which was designated in 1996. [2]


The village of Morningside grew up on part of the Burgh Muir, this being common ground that was gifted to Edinburgh by David I in the first half of the 12th century. In the late 16th century, the town council feued the western part of this land to pay for the huge cost of dealing with the plague that had swept the city in 1585. It is on this feued land that Morningside gradually developed. [2]

The name Morningside first appeared on Richard Cooper's 1759 Plan of the City of Edinburgh and Adjacent Grounds. This showed Morningside as just three houses. [3] Writing in 1882, James Grant described the original village as a 'row of thatched cottages, a line of trees and a blacksmith's forge'. [4]

Victorian shops in Morningside Road Shops in Morningside Road, Edinburgh.jpg
Victorian shops in Morningside Road

Morningside grew rapidly as an agricultural village, serving neighbouring farms and estates, including those of Canaan, Egypt, Plewlands and others. It became increasingly important as the first stopping place on the principal drove road into Edinburgh from the farms to the south. [5]

The district developed as a residential suburb from the early 19th century. It attracted many of Edinburgh's wealthier citizens who built villas and mansion houses on large plots obtained from the sub-division of the nearby estates. By the 1850s much of the present street pattern had been established. [6]

Later in the 19th century, the growth of the suburb was accelerated by developments in transport. In the 1870s, a tram service—one of the first of its kind in Edinburgh—provided a direct link with the east end of Princes Street in the city centre. These horse-drawn trams were later replaced by cable cars and then by electric trams. An even bigger boost came in 1885 with the opening of the Edinburgh Suburban and South Side Junction Railway. This carried passengers between Morningside Road Station and Waverley Station, while freight, including livestock and coal, was carried to and from the goods yard in Maxwell Street. In the 1890s, the Braid Estate was developed for housing, covering the area around Nile Grove, Cluny Avenue and Cluny Drive. By the first half of the 20th century, Morningside was well established, with schools, churches, a public library, a cinema and a ballroom. [6] [2]

Origins of street names

The origin of the name Morningside is uncertain. According to some sources, it is derived from the village's location on the sunny south-facing or 'morning side' of the city, [7] but Stuart Harris says that it is more likely to be just a 'fancy' name, invented as a caprice by one of the estate owners. [8]

The biblical references in several street names (Canaan Lane, Egypt Mews, Jordan Lane, Nile Grove, etc.) are also of uncertain origin. A generally accepted theory is that they are an allusion to Little Egypt Farm, which was situated between Braid Road and Blackford Hill. The farm might owe its name to an encampment of Romanies who established themselves in the area after their expulsion from the city in 1540. (Romanies were at the time believed to have originated in Egypt; the name 'gypsy' might be derived from 'Egyptian'.) [9] [10]

The Braid area, with street names such as Braid Road and Braidburn Terrace, is named for the estate of Sir Henry de Brade, a 12th century sheriff of Edinburgh. The estate's name in turn derives from the Gaelic bràghaid, meaning a throat or gorge; this refers to the deep cut in the Braid Burn near the present Braidburn Valley Park. [11]

Cluny (as in Cluny Gardens, Cluny Drive, etc.), Corrennie (Corrennie Gardens, Corrennie Drive) and Midmar Gardens are named after properties in Aberdeenshire owned by the Gordon family, who owned the Braid Estate in the late 19th century. [12]

The name Falcon appears in several street names (Falcon Road, Falcon Avenue, etc.). These were built in the 20th century on the site of Falcon Hall, which was demolished in 1909. [13]

Notable buildings

Old School House, Morningside Road Old School House, Morningside Edinburgh.jpg
Old School House, Morningside Road
Morningside Library Morningside Library, Edinburgh.jpg
Morningside Library
Dominion Cinema Dominion Cinema, Morningside Edinburgh.jpg
Dominion Cinema
Former Morningside Parish Church Former Morningside Parish Church, Edinburgh.jpg
Former Morningside Parish Church


Former buildings

Other landmarks

Notable residents

Morningside today

Today Morningside is a thriving residential district. Its main shopping street, Morningside Road, is noted for its variety of shops and cafés, many of which are independent businesses. The district has two primary schools, several churches, a public library, a cinema and a theatre. Many of the 19th century Victorian and Edwardian villas survive, but the predominant form of housing, especially in the northern part of the district, now consists of Victorian tenements. Bungalows and detached and semi-detached houses are more common in the less densely-populated areas to the south of the railway line. [2] [26]

The population of the Morningside local government ward stands at 32,586 (as at 2019). [41]

Although passenger trains serving Morningside Road Station were withdrawn in 1962, the suburb still enjoys good transport links with the city centre, being served by Lothian Buses routes 5, 11, 15, 16, 23, 36 and 38. [42]

Muriel Spark's 1961 novel The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is set partly in Morningside. Brodie is a teacher at the Marcia Blaine School for Girls, the model for which was James Gillespie's School for Girls in nearby Marchmont. Spark herself attended the school from 1923 to 1935. [43]

A kitten named Maisie MacKenzie, also known as Masie from Morningside, is the title character in a series of children's books by Aileen Paterson. In 2011, Lothian Buses added an image of Maisie to the livery of the No. 5 bus, which serves Morningside. [44]

The so-called 'Morningside accent' is often portrayed—and caricatured—in popular culture as an over-refined and affected "pan loaf" accent, similar to a perceived upper-class English accent. By extension, the same characteristics are sometimes attributed to the attitudes and behaviour of Morningside residents. [45] [46] The accent was famously used my Maggie Smith in her portrayal of the title character in the 1969 film version of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

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Falcon Hall

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  1. These borders are those of the local government ward (Ward 10) and the local community council. "Your locality, ward and community council". City of Edinburgh Council. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Morningside conservation area character appraisal. City of Edinburgh Council. 2001. ISBN   1-85191-081-6 . Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  3. 1 2 Cant 1987, p. 188.
  4. Grant, James (1882). Old & New Edinburgh. Volume 5: Cassell. p. 38.CS1 maint: location (link)
  5. Smith 1978, p. 146.
  6. 1 2 Smith 1978, p. 148.
  7. Smith 1978, p. 147.
  8. Harris 2002, p. 406.
  9. Smith 1978, pp. 239-240.
  10. Harris 2002, pp. 207-209.
  11. Harris 2002, p. 106.
  12. Harris 2002, p. 240.
  13. Harris 2002, p. 147.
  14. "A new church in Morningside". Cornerstone. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  15. "140 Morningside Road, Old Morningside School, Gospel Hall". Historic Environment Scotland. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  16. 1 2 3 Smith 1978, p. 158.
  17. "Dominion Cinema". Cinema Treasures. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  18. "In pictures: Scotland's best independent cinemas". The Scotsman. 7 March 2018.
  19. "Church Hill Theatre". Visit Scotland. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  20. "Edinburgh, Morningside Road, Churchill Theatre". Canmore. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  21. "Edinburgh, Morningside, 1, 1a Nile Grove, Braid Church". Canmore. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  22. "Morningside Parish Church". Scotland's Churches Trust. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  23. "77 Falcon Avenue". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  24. Smith 1978, pp. 162-168.
  25. Spelled as Falconar in some sources,
  26. 1 2 3 "Morningside". Gazetteer for Scotland. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  27. Smith 1978, p. 170.
  28. Smith 1978, p. 136.
  29. "Bore Stone". Gazetteer for Scotland. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  30. "Our Scottish Clock Company restores Edinburgh Morningside Clock". Smith of Derby. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  31. "Hanging Stanes Plaque on Geograph". Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  32. "Edinburgh Braid Road Hanging Stones". Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  33. Smith 1978, p. 160.
  34. Smith 1978, p. 162.
  35. Brown, Stewart J (2007). "Chalmers, Thomas". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/5033.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  36. Thorpe, Venessa (30 December 2017). "Resurrection woman: crime writer revives reputation of the "Scottish Jane Austen"". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  37. "3 and 5 Clinton Road, East Morningside House". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  38. Smith, Charles J (2000). Looking Back: An Autobiographical Journey through South Edinburgh and Beyond. Edinburgh: Malcolm Cant Publications. p. 57. ISBN   0-9526099-4-0.
  39. "Sir Reginald Fleming Johnston". National Records of Scotland. Retrieved 16 September 2020. Johnston's birth certificate gives his place of birth as "Goshen Bank, Jordan Lane". Following later building works, Goshen Bank is now accessed from the adjacent Canaan Lane; the house is now designated as 24 Canaan Lane.
  40. Ascherson, Neal (21 May 1994). "The last British statesman". The Independent.
  41. "Electoral Ward Morningside". Scottish Government. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  42. "Lothian Buses" . Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  43. Muriel, Spark (1993). Curriculum vitae : autobiography. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN   039565372X. OCLC   26724102.
  44. "Buses to get Maisie makeover". The Scotsman. 13 July 2011.
  45. "Morningside". Dictionary of the Scots Language. Retrieved 20 September 2020.
  46. "Morningside". Lexico. Retrieved 20 September 2020.

Further reading