Edinburgh & Leith Post Office Directory Adverts

Royal Patent Gymnasium

Royal Crescent Park

Advertisement for the Royal Patent Gymnasium, 1867

The Royal Patent Gymnasium was built in Royal Crescent Park at the northern edge of Edinburgh New Town.  It opened in 1865.  Here is the description taken from Grant's Old & New Edinburgh, published 1865:

The Royal Patent Gymnasium

In this quarter we now find the Patent Royal Gymnasium, one of the most remarkable and attractive places of amusement of its kind in Edinburgh, and few visitors leave the city without seeing it.

At considerable expense it was constructed by Mr Cox of Gorgie House, for the purpose of affording healthful and exhilarating recreation in the open air to great numbers at once, and in April 1865 was publicly opened. ...

Large Rides

Among the many remarkable contrivances here was:

- a vast 'rotary boat' 471 ft in circumference, seated for 600 rowers, 471 feet in circumference.

- a 'giant see-saw' named 'Chang', 100 feet long and seven feet broad., supported on an axle and capable of containing 200 persons, alternately elevating them to a height of fifty feet, and then sinking almost to the ground.

- a 'velocipede paddle merry-go-round' , 160 feet in circumference, seated for 600 persons, who propel the machine by sitting astride on the rim, and push their feet against the ground.

- a 'self-adjusting trapeze' in five series of three each, enabling gymnasts to swing by the hands 130 feet from one trapeze to the other.

- a 'compound pendulum swing' capable of holding about a hundred persons and kept i motion by their own exertions.

Other Equipment

Here, also, are a vast number of vaulting and climbing poles, rotary ladders, stilts, spring-boards, quoits, balls, bowls, and little boats and canoes on ponds, propelled by novel and amusing methods.


In winter the ground is prepared for skaters on a few inches of frozen water, and when lighted up at night by hundreds of lights, the scene, with its musical accessories, is one of wonderful brightness, gaiety, colour and incessant motion.

[This sounds to be similar 'Winter Wonderland' funfair and ice rink in Princes Street Gardens in the early 2000s.]

Athletics Hall

Here, also, is an athletic hall, with an instructor always in attendance, and velocipedes, with the largest training velocipede course in Scotland. 


The charges of admission are very moderate, so as to meet the wants of children as well as adults.

[Admission was 6d,  or 3d for under 12s]



   Advert in the Edinburgh & Leith Post Office Directory  -  1868  -  Royal Patent Gymnasium, Royal Crescent Park

Advertisements for the Royal Patent Gymnasium appeared in the Edinburgh & Leith Post Office Directories in several years.  I have not been able to check all years but here are some of the adverts.

-  1865, 1866 directories  -  No advert for the gymnasium found

1867, 1868 directories  -  Adverts were similar

-  1869  directory  -  Advert similar to 1868 but also refers to:

a)  a new velocipede course

b)  a new exhibition: Foreign and British, Dioramic and Mechanical, Curious and Comical

c)  the Royal Gymnasium Hall (now open)

-  1870  directory  -  Advert similar to 1868 but also refers to c) above

-  1871  directory  -  Style changed.  Advert now features only 2 rides

-  The Patent Rotary Boat, 'Great Sea Serpent'  "is seated for 600 Rowers, embarking and disembarking Passengers at four different Piers at opposite sides of the Island at the same time."

-   The New Grand Planetarium Swing  "Represents FOUR PLANETS, viz.: THE EARTH, NEPTUNE, JUPITER and SATURN.  Each Planet describes a Vertical Orbit of nearly 300 feet, and can accommodate from Eight to Twelve Inhabitants at a time."

-  1872  directory  -  No advert for the gymnasium found

-  1873   directory -  Directory not checked

-  1874  directory  -  No advert for the gymnasium found

-  1875  directory  -  Directory not checked

-  1875  directory  -  Directory not checked

1877  directory  -  Advert featured same 2 rides as 1871

Also,  large illustration of 'Grand Planetarium Swing'.

-  1878  directory  -  No advert for the gymnasium found



Grand Pedestrian Galas

'Grand Pedestrian Galas' were held at the Royal Patent Gymnasium in 1873.  I have seen broadsheets advertising two of these
(at the Edinburgh Room in Edinburgh Central Library). 

Both galas were similar.  They were held on Saturday 19 April 1873 and Saturday 12 July 1873, both at 4pm.  The first gala  included:

-  Great Handicap Race: 315 yards

-  67 runners in 3 rounds, 14 heats in the first round.

-  1st prize 25,  2nd prize 2 10s,  3rd Prize 1 10s.

-  Velocipede Race:  One Mile

-  Prize:  Gold Challenge Medal.

-  Gymnastics Display

Dog Exhibition

The Third Annual Scottish Metropolitan Dog Exhibition was held in the Large Hall at the Royal Gymnasium on 20-23 May 2003.


Royal Patent Gymnasium  -  Adverts


Entertainment in Leith  - 18th Century

1.  Racing on Leith Sands

2.  Cock Fighting on Leith Links


Adverts in the Edinburgh & Leith Post Office Directories, old Newspapers and elsewhere:

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