Important acquisitions

Report and plan for laying-out and planning the Meadows

Author Kemp, Edward
Title Report and plan for laying-out and planning the Meadows
Imprint [Edinburgh? s.n.]
Date of Publication 1873
Language English
Notes This pamphlet puts forward plans to develop a large and much-loved public park in Edinburgh. The Meadows can be found just south of the Old Town in Edinburgh; it consists of open grassland divided up by tree-lined paths and is much used for sport and recreational pursuits by those living in the city. The park was created when a loch on the site was completely drained in the 18th century, at the behest of the agricultural improver Sir Thomas Hope, turning the marshy land into an open space. Middle Meadow Walk, opened in 1743, was laid out by Hope as a thirty foot wide walkway, enclosed on each side by a hedge and lime trees. In 1827 an Act of Parliament protected the Meadows from being built upon. When Melville Drive was opened in 1859 as part of the development of Edinburgh's South Side, the Meadows became increasing popular as a public space. From the 1860s onwards the Town Council considered ways of improving the park by creating boundary walls, removing some fencing, and raising the level of the ground by using earth excavated from the foundations of recently-constructed houses in the area. As part of the improvement process, the most famous English landscape gardener of the day, Edward Kemp (1817-1891), was presumably asked to produce this report. Kemp had made his name by overseeing the creation of Birkenhead Park in the 1840s in his role as head gardener there. He also wrote on the subject of gardens and public parks at a time when Victorian Britain was exercised with the problems of creating of green and pleasant open spaces in its congested and dirty cities. Kemp's brief report is careful to state at the outset that he would not want to see any "violent alterations or any very elaborate style of treatment" being attempted in the Meadows. He proposes replaces the "ugly" straight footpaths in the eastern part of the park with "pleasing curves" and planting evergreen shrubs to get rid of the "present bareness of the place". He argues against the introduction of any water features and proposes the creation of "shelter houses" to allow people to take cover from sudden showers and storms. On the issue of closing the central area of the park at night, which had been considered by the Council, he is in favour of doing so, pointing out that it is impossible to light the interior of the park and that the closure could be done by putting fencing along Middle Meadow Walk. 140 years on the Meadows is not greatly altered from Kemp's time, but he may be disappointed to see that there is little in the way of shrubs, fencing or pleasingly curved footpaths.
Shelfmark AP.2.213.22
Reference Sources Oxford Dictionary National Biography
Acquired on 07/06/13
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