Basic Site Details

Name: Leith Poorhouse
Town, district or village: Leith
City or county: Edinburgh
Country: Scotland
Grid ref:
Notes: The original design was selected in an open competition in which eight entries were received. Open architectural competitions were not always all they seemed although a polite fiction was generally maintained. This was not the case in this instance. Under the headline “The Story of the New Leith Poorhouse Plans,” details of proceedings following the submission of designs were reported at length in the Scotsman, later reproduced in the British Architect. The committee it seems ignored the assessor’s report and chose to consider only those entries based on the corridor rather than the more up-to-date pavilion system. By this stage the names of some competitors were already known to members of the Parish Council. It may not have been a total surprise, therefore, when the corridor scheme prepared by the local architect J M Johnston, placed 7th on the assessor’s list, was adopted. Estimates of cost varied widely, the official measurer retained by the council estimated the design adopted at £72,381 in stone and £70, 984 in brick

Cost: £60,000 (according to J M Johnston's LRIBA papers) or £230,000 (according to G A Sutherland's LRIBA papers).

A plan prepared by Mr J M Johnston, architect, Leith for the erection of a new poorhouse have been adopted by a committee according to which the estimated cost of the building in stone is fully £60,000 and in brick £46,200. The approval of the Council and the Local Government Board has yet to be given to the proposal. [ British Architect 10 July 1903 Page ?]

At the last meeting of the Leith Parish Council it was decided by 11 votes to 6 to adopt the plans by Mr J M Johnston. [British Architect 10 July 1903 Page ?]

LEITH The parish council at their meeting on Monday considered the recommendation of the building committee that plan 6 of the proposed new poorhouse, No. 2 scheme (brick), subject to such modification as might be determined, be adopted. Approval of the minute having been moved, Mr. Johnson submitted an amendment that before deciding on any plan, an expert be asked to advise the council. No two architects were offering the same thing, and therefore he thought it would be foolish on the part of the council to decide without taking expert evidence. The architect's estimate of the building in stone according to one plan was £94,939, and the measurer's £92,939. Plan No. 6 was estimated by the architect to cost £44,000, the measurer said £68,7S4. On a division the recommendation was approved by eleven voles to six after considerable discussion. The name of the author of the selected design did not transpire.[Building News 17 July 1903 p67]

Mr J M Johnson of Leith N B whose design for the poorhouse building at Seafield was recently accepted by the Leith Parish Council has now been appointed architect for the work. [British Architect 25 September 1903 Page 222]

The hospital closed in 2007 and in August of that year the buildings were gutted by fire. Demolition was proposed September 2008

Alternative Names

The following alternative names are associated with this building/design:
 NameCurrent name?Notes
Item 1 of 4Eastern General HospitalYes 
Item 2 of 4Leith Poor Law Hospital  
Item 3 of 4Leith Poor Law InstitutionYes 
Item 4 of 4Seafield Poorhouse Name prior to 1931-3 conversion to hospital

Building Type Classification

The building is classified under the following categories:
 ClassificationOriginal classification?Notes
Item 1 of 2Hospital  
Item 2 of 2Poor houseYes 

Street Addresses

The following street addresses are associated with this building:
 AddressMain entrance?Notes
Item 1 of 1Seafield StreetYes 


The following date-based events are associated with this building:
 FromToEvent typeNotes
Item 1 of 7May 1903 Competition results announcedCompetition held
Item 2 of 719041910Construction 
Item 3 of 72 August 1909 Opened 
Item 4 of 719311932 Conversion to Eastern General Hospital (tenders sought 1931)
Item 5 of 71951 Alterations and additionsAdditions and alterations and modernisation of main kitchen block
Item 6 of 71960s Alterations and additionsPost-war alterations and discreet new buildings
Item 7 of 71984 SurveyFire precaution survey


Design and Construction

The following individuals or organisations have carried out design/construction work. Where architects or practices worked together, matching letters appear beside their names in the Partnership Group column.
 NameRolePartnership GroupFromToNotes
Item 1 of 17Robert Douglas Sandilands    Assessor for competition
Item 2 of 17William Carruthers Laidlaw  1903 Awarded 2nd Premium by the assessor.
Item 3 of 17Joseph Marr Johnston A19031910Placed 7th by the assessor but still secured job
Item 4 of 17Alexander Lorne Campbell D1903  
Item 5 of 17J N Scott & A Lorne Campbell (or Scott & Campbell) D1903 Placed first by the assessor but failed to obtain commission
Item 6 of 17John Nichol Scott D1903 Placed first by the assessor but failed to obtain commission
Item 7 of 17George Angus Sutherland Ac. 1904c. 1906As assistant to Joseph Marr Johnston
Item 8 of 17Ebenezer James MacRae  19311933Conversion to Eastern General Hospital - as City Architect
Item 9 of 17Robert Forbes Hutchison F1951 Additions and alterations and modernisation of main kitchen block
Item 10 of 17Walter Alison & Hutchison F1951 Additions and alterations and modernisation of main kitchen block
Item 11 of 17Alison & Hutchison & Partners C1960s Post war alterations and discreet new buildings.
Item 12 of 17Douglas Hislop Herd C1960s Post-war alterations and discreet new buildings
Item 13 of 17George Gilroy Graham C1960s Post-war alterations and discreet new buildings
Item 14 of 17George Raphael Michael Kennedy C1960s Post-war alterations and discreet new buildings
Item 15 of 17Robert Forbes Hutchison C1960s Post-war alterations and discreet new buildings
Item 16 of 17Peter Burnett Caird H1984 Fire precaution survey - partner in charge
Item 17 of 17Reiach & Hall H1984 Fire precaution survey


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this building:
Item 1 of 2Gifford, John, McWilliam, Colin and Walker, David M1984Edinburgh (The Buildings of Scotland) Harmondsworth: Penguin Books Ltdp463
Item 2 of 2Richardson, HarrietN.D.Scottish Hospitals Survey Unpublished typescript (copy in DMW Archive)Listed as Eastern General Hospital

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this building:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 17Architect and Building News10 October 1930  p509
Item 2 of 17Architect and Building News1931Jan-Jun p235
Item 3 of 17British Architect22 May 1903  p366 - competition results
Item 4 of 17British Architect10 July 1903  p23 - The Story of the New Leith Poorhouse Plans from the Scotsman
Item 5 of 17British Architect10 July 1903   
Item 6 of 17British Architect24 July 1903   
Item 7 of 17British Architect28 August 1903  p152 - estimated costs, official measurer
Item 8 of 17British Architect28 August 1903  p152 and illustration The design of Scott and Campbell, placed first by Sandilands, illustrated
Item 9 of 17British Architect25 September 1903  p222 - Johnson's appointment as architect confirmed
Item 10 of 17Builder26 July 1931CXLI p1161
Item 11 of 17Building News17 July 1903  p67
Item 12 of 17Dundee Courier6 June 1906   
Item 13 of 17Dundee Courier3 August 1909   
Item 14 of 17Edinburgh Evening News27 September 2008  Proposed demolition
Item 15 of 17RIBA Journal13 October 1934v41London: Royal Institute of British Architectsp1069 - obituary of Joseph Marr Johnston
Item 16 of 17Scotsman14 May 1903  p6
Item 17 of 17Scotsman3 July 1903  p8 - The Story of the New Leith Poorhouse Plans

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this building:
 SourceArchive nameSource catalogue no.Notes
Item 1 of 7Courtesy of Peter B CairdInformation sent to DSA Sent March 2011
Item 2 of 7DMW ArchiveResearch notes for 'Scottish Thirties' by Charles McKean  
Item 3 of 7Historic Environment ScotlandListed Buildings Register44949 
Item 4 of 7Historic Environment ScotlandListed Buildings Register44950Matron's house. Delisted July 2014.
Item 5 of 7Historic Environment ScotlandListed Buildings Register44951Chapel
Item 6 of 7National Monuments Record of Scotland/NMRS, RCAHMSJ & F Johnston Collection JFJ 1900/3/1-3
Item 7 of 7RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers Joseph Marr Johnston: L v18 no1372; Ebenezer James MacRae: F no3192 (box 18); George Angus Sutherland: L v13 no856; Robert Forbes Hutchison F no4882 (Combined Box 42)