Captain Horatio Ross (Scottish, 1801-1886)
"From the Meadows, Edinburgh" Edinburgh Castle, April 1857
Waxed paper negative
29.0 x 34.9 cm
The Meadows still presents an area of rural tranquility in the heart of Edinburgh. Part of it was built on the South or Burgh Loch (the North Loch was between the Castle and the New Town). Dammed in the 1550s in an unsuccessful attempt to improve its usefulness as a water supply, within a century it was so silted up that it was drained. In 1772, the Town Council leased part of it to Thomas Hope of Rankeillor, the Chairman of the Society of Improvers in the Knowledge of Agriculture in Scotland. He laid out what became known as Hope Park, with walkways and lime trees, but gradually the 17th century name of The Meadows came back into use. An act of Parliament made it a public park in 1827 but its natural drainage remained a problem even some years after Ross took this photograph.
Sadly, although The Meadows are still in use as a park, this beautiful view of the Castle looming in the distance must be imagined today. It was already threatened in Ross’ time, for although a lone cow can be seen grazing in the center, stakes betray preparations for building. The short terrace pictured obliquely is now part of long blocks. The building with the swooping drive was Lauriston House. In front of it now stands masses of buildings, especially the Eye Clinic of the Royal Infirmary. Just beyond Lauriston House stood the Cattlemarket. In 1909 it was cleared for the imposing Edinburgh College of Art building.
In 1886, the International Exhibition of Industry, Art & Science was erected in The Meadows. Among others, the pioneers of photography, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce and Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre, were commemorated in this exhibition.