Over the centuries, Edinburgh’s Stockbridge has developed from a small farming community to a bustling residential area packed with some of the city’s best shops, pubs and restaurants. Alan Morrison wanders around the New Town community.
Framed on four sides by the Dean Village, Canonmills, the original 18th century grandeur of the New Town, and the Royal Botanic Garden, Stockbridge has retained its distinctive character despite many changes over the years. As late as 1743, it was a rural village, a farming community (pop 544), sited on either side of the Water of Leith and linked by the wooden bridge that gave the area its name.
As the 19th century progressed, the growth northwards of Edinburgh‘s New Town absorbed the streets, bringing both ‘gentlemen‘s residences‘ and the mills of the Industrial Revolution. The painter, Sir Henry Raeburn, was one of the first to buy a Stockbridge villa', and a network of streets- now the area around Ann Street and Dean Terrace — was designed for him by James Milne. Milne also designed one of Stockbridge’s best known landmarks, St Bernard’s Church in Saxe-Coburg Street.
In the second halfof the 18005, the Edinburgh Co-operative Building Association began construction of what became known as ‘The Colonies’ as a solution for the overcrowded slum conditions of the Old Town. These rows of terraced houses, end on to the river, were the prototypes for other working-class accommodation built elsewhere in the city.
As Stockbridge grew in stature as one of the city’s most desirable suburbs, the Stockbridge Market became the prime shopping facility of the New Town. The Market’s archway still stands, advertising ‘Butcher Meat. Fruits. Fish and Poultries.’ and its legacy remains in the myriad of specialist shops, delis, pubs and restaurants to be found in and around St Stephen Street, Henderson Row and Raeburn Place. Now the area is a hive of activity, the site of an annual community festival and home to the local sporting heroes of the Grange Cricket Club and Edinburgh Academicals Rugby Club.
I The Bailie 2 St Stephen Street, 225 4673. Looking sturdy enough in its corner location to carry the whole of St Stephen Street on its shoulders, The Bailie excels as one of those traditionally sound pubs where hot toddies sit side by side with pints of
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real ale. Watch out for the Bloody Mary Sunday Brunch hangover cure. I Bells Diner 7 St Stephen Street, 225 81 16. A tantalising taste of the US of A, with all the trimmings from corn on the cob, through burgers (veggie too) and steaks to succulent pancakes and desserts. Intimate, informal and simply good eatin‘.
I Ben’s Bar 2 Raeburn Place, 332 6345. Furnished in authentic 40s style — from the wall tiles and real leather upholstery down to the black and white TV over the bar — Bert‘s has rapidly established itself since it opened last year. With eight real ales from across the country and prepared-on-the- premises Scotch pies that have your tastebuds crying out for more,
Bert’s is everything that a good bar
ST. STEPHEN PL.
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PLUS TIIE FLOATARIUM SHOP
9 4' <5" SlenderWra p 9» Lose 5 - 15 inches on first visit or pay nothing ! 29 North West Circus Piace ,
Stockbrldge, EdInburgh EH3 6TP Tel: 031-225 3350
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BODY & SOUL Mind Body Spirit Bookshop
Books, Magazines, Tapes Tarots, Crystals, Charts Essential Oils, Incense
Free Mail-Order Catalogue 52 Hamilton Place Edinburgh EH3 SAX
Tel 031 226 3066 -i Open Mon - Sat 10- 6
BUTCHER MEAT, FRUIT, FISH , POULTRY
I Body 8: Soul 52 Hamilton Place. 226 3066. Edinburgh‘s foremost holistic bookshop, with hundreds of titles on personal growth. tarot and healing, Body & Soul is set apart by its unique relaxing atmosphere. The aroma ofincense and the gentle sounds of New Age music greet you on entry, while the posters on the walls and windows create the feeling ofa meeting place rather than a commercial outlet.
l The Edinburgh Floatarium 29 North West Circus Place. 225 3350. Lie back and enjoy incomparable stress reliefin complete darkness. floating in a strong solution of Epsom salts. The Floatarium also offers aromatherapy, therapeutic massage and a shop selling hand-blended
incense. New Age music and books. oils and crystals.
I Craig McCallum Floral Design 20 St Stephen Street, 225 481 I. On first view, the shop is more like an art gallery: a beautifully ornate mirror dominates one wall. framed with dried flowers. This is an example of one ofthe larger commissioned works undertaken by Craig McCallum. although he also specialises in smaller table decorations and other dried flower arrangements.
I Maison Hector47 Deanshaugh Street. 332 5328. The newest and coolest arrival on the Stockbridge scene. Maison Hector is a technicolour. expressionist. rampage combining a bar and a restaurant. Its innovative decor has
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62 The List 27 March — 9 April 1992