[Image by Anthony O'Neil]
A stone’s throw away from the city centre, Tollcross is a vibrant little neighbourhood. During the day you can explore a fascinating mix of shops and cosy cafes. In the evening there’s a huge selection of restaurants and takeaways to choose from, representing a whole range of cuisines. And of course, you can catch a show at the Kings or a movie at the Cameo cinema.
Tollcross is a busy area and has always been a major thoroughfare into the city. It joins Bruntsfield and Morningside with Lothian Road and the New Town to the north, and with the main University of Edinburgh Campus and the rest of the Old Town to the East. However, the ‘toll’ referenced in the name was originally a little further up Lothian Road, and the name became displaced over time.
Just adjacent to Tollcross begins the Meadows, a great place for a stroll with a friend, or a summer picnic. There’s plenty of cafes and delis locally to pick up your supplies.
History of Tollcross
The area has been settled for hundreds of years and was on a major trading route for farmers and merchants arriving from the south. The junction itself is more modern, formed when Lothian Road was extended to Earl Grey Street (originally named Wellington Street).
The clock at the centre of the junction dates back to 1901, when the area was a busy tram hub. It was gifted by Provost James Steel and Treasurer Robert Cranston and made by James Ritchie and Sons (who also built the clock at the West End of Princes Street, and Edinburgh’s famous Floral Clock). During building works in 1974, the clock was removed, and after an outcry from the local community, this historic landmark was reinstated at the junction, slightly removed from it’s original location.
In the 1800s the area was a hub of industry, hosting a distillery, a brewery, ropeworks and ironworks. This was thanks to the Union Canal, which ends just west of Tollcross at the Lochrin Basin. The brewery was on the site where the Kings Theatre now stands, while the iron works replaced the distillery, which have now been replaced by the Lochrin Buildings tenements.
The Lochrin Burn, for which these buildings were named, used to flow freely through the area, but has since been culverted, and so runs through a tunnel beneath the Kings Theatre