Original Edinburgh New Town Plans Go On Display

Original plans for Edinburgh's New Town, owned by the Museum of Edinburgh in the Canongate, are back on display in the museum having been painstakingly conserved by a specialist paper conservator.

The plans, drawn by architect James Craig, provided a vision for the New Town which still exists today, and is key to Edinburgh's World Heritage status. 

Two drawings by James Craig have been conserved, one known as the 'Adopted Plan' signed by the Lord Provost in 1767, and the 'Circus Plan' showing an alternative vision for the New Town. 

The conservator lifted a paper patch covering part of Charlotte Square revealing the outline of a circular garden, indicating perhaps that the Council changed its mind about the detail of the plan. 

The two plans were carefully cleaned, repaired and stabilised for the future at the Scottish Conservation Studio based at Hopetoun House. They have now been put back on display using specialist glass and lighting, while the New Town gallery has also been re-launched with fresh interpretation and a Reading Room added to the area. Fresh interpretation for the plans has been produced in partnership with Edinburgh World Heritage. 

The original plans are to be on display for two hours daily, from 12noon to 2pm, to protect them from the damaging effects of light. Outwith these hours, visitors can look at high quality copies on lowered black-out blinds commissioned and funded by the Council's Museums and Galleries Service.   

It is thought both plans have been in the City's possession since their creation, and both still bear their City Chambers index numbers. They were later transferred to the Museum of Edinburgh in the Canongate (then known as Huntly House Museum) and may have been on display there since it opened in 1932.

Councillor Deidre Brock, Culture and Leisure Convenor, said: "James Craig's New Town plan drawings are an invaluable part of Edinburgh's history and thanks to this essential conservation work, we have ensured they can remain on public display for many years to come.”