Edinburgh Royal Infirmary

A Brief History


1.   2.   3.  4.

Edinburgh Royal Infirmary

Four Hospital Sites

Since it was founded in 1729, the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh has been on four different sites.

Robertson Close

1. The original Edinburgh Infirmary, Hospital for the Sick Poor, Physicians' Hospital, or Little House was located at the head of Robertson's Close.  This hospital had only four beds, but received the Royal Charter in 1836.

High School Yards

2. The hospital moved to larger premises in High School Yards, near Infirmary Street in 1741.  These were designed by William Adams.  There were 228 beds and 12 cells in the basement for "lunatics".  It was here that Professor James Young Simpson first demonstrated the anaesthetic properties of Chloroform.

Lauriston Place

3. Work began In 1872 on a new hospital on a 'clean air' site in Lauriston Place, opposite George Heriot's School, built to replace the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary in High School Yards.  The Lauriston Place hospital opened in 1879 and continued in use until May 1, 2003.

Little France

4.  The hospital is now, in 2002, in the process of moving to its latest site, a new 184m building at Little France in the southern suburbs of Edinburgh.

Thank you to Peter Kirk, Swanston, Edinburgh  for giving me the location of the original Edinburgh Infirmary, and for giving me details of the web site.

Further details have been added from an article  in the Edinburgh Evening News, January 20, 2007, pp16-17



Edinburgh Royal Infirmary  -  Robertson's Close

Founded 1729, Royal Charter 1736

I have not yet found any pictures of this building



Edinburgh Royal Infirmary

High School Yards near Infirmary Street

Work began on the hospital in 1741

Engraving from 'Old & New Edinburgh'  -  The Royal Infirmary

Work began on building this hospital in 1741

The Edinburgh Infirmary at Infirmary Street was demolished in 1884.

An Ionic column from the infirmary's colonnade was used the following year to create a monument to the Covenanters (1666), outside Dreghorn Barracks in Redford Road.

This monument also commemorates the Romans, Cromwell in 1650 and Charles Edward Stuart in 1745

The details above are taken from the Edinburgh University School of Geoscience web site, which also includes a photograph of the monument



Edinburgh Royal Infirmary  -  Lauriston Place

The hospital opened in 1879

   Engraving from 'Old & New Edinburgh'  -  Edinburgh Royal Infirmary

The Birds-Eye View of the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary from the north-east (scroll up the page to see it) clearly shows the lay-out of the site.  In the background, the open area of land is The Meadows.

The Meadows

 Engraving from 'Old & New Edinburgh'  -  The Meadows

David Bryce was invited to design the hospital in 1872.  His design was built and opened in 1879.  It occupied this site close to the centre of Edinburgh, between George Heriot's School and The Meadows, until very recently. 

The Edinburgh Royal Infirmary at Lauriston Place is now (2002) about to close and be replaced by a new hospital being built at Little France in the SE suburbs of Edinburgh.

The Lauriston Place site is to be redeveloped as housing, offices and hotel.

Quartermile Redevelopment

Developers, Southside Capital, have proposed a major redevelopment of this site, demolishing several of the buildings and constructing a large complex of shops, housing and offices.

This development is known as 'Quartermile' because it is a quarter of a mile away from Edinburgh Castle.

The developers' initial plans met with objections, so have been cut back.

Plans for a 400m development, with buildings up to ten storeys high were submitted to the Council in April 03.  These plans have also been criticised by heritage bodies who are unhappy with the mass and height of some of he buildings.

Edinburgh City Council  considered this Planning Application on 10 April 03 and rejected it.

[Edinburgh Evening News:  4 April 03, page 9 AND 10 April 03, page 9]


Please click on this link for an update on the Quartermile plans for redeveloping the former site of the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary in Lauriston Place



The New Edinburgh Royal Infirmary  -  Little France

The hospital opened in 2002

The 'New Edinburgh Royal Infirmary'

The New Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, Little France, Edinburgh

The Edinburgh Royal Infirmary moved to a new  purpose-built hospital at Little France, beside the A7, Edinburgh to Dalkeith road, about 4 miles  SE of the centre of Edinburgh in 2002.


Edinburgh Royal Infirmary  -  Photos