West Princes Street Gardens is a space at the heart of Edinburgh’s bustling city scape and has been so for over two hundred years. With the passing decades came romantic strolls, family picnics, dogs chased, marches and speeches made, and music played. The history of the gardens is a continuous line that will hopefully extend far into Edinburgh’s future and hold an even international impact on how the world views public gardens.
Our Marketing Assistant, Ruby, has been working to uncover the history of West Princes Street Gardens, preserving these memories – not just of the people but of the buildings themselves!
Recently, Ruby has been visiting the City of Edinburgh Council Archives to learn more about the planning stages of the Ross Fountain, the Gardeners Cottage, and the Ross Bandstand.
The original Bandstand built in 1877.
The current Ross Bandstand was built in 1935, presumably named after the generous donator of the first bandstand installed in the year 1877, William Henry Ross. Not related to the Mr. Daniel Ross who donated the Ross Fountain to West Princes Street Gardens! With some further digging, we discovered that the Ross Bandstand went under renovation planning in 1949 to include toilets and changing spaces for performers.
Ross Bandstand renovation plans, 1949.
Interesting to note that the original bandstand was simply a space for musicians to perform, with members of the public sitting on the grassy landscape to enjoy the music. The design of the 1935 bandstand incorporated an amphitheatre and purpose-built dance floor – reflective of the changing expectations for the space!
The Ross Bandstand has seen it all, from Scottish Country Dancing, Hogmanay, concerts big and small, Children’s Hour, and so much more. In the 1940’s the Ross Bandstand saw women dancing hand in hand for the first time as men were off to war. The Royal Scottish Country Dancing Society has shared their photos with us, proving that dance has always been an integral part of the Ross Bandstand.
Royal Scottish Country Dancing 1959
Royal Scottish Country Dancing 1965
The Quaich Project has been collecting memories from the community and sharing them on our webpage. Follow the link to read about the memories made and shared at West Princes Street Gardens and even submit your own! https://www.thequaichproject.org/your-gardens
The Ross Bandstand is an inherent part of West Princes Street Gardens, providing a space for Edinburgh residents and visitors to celebrate Scottish culture through performance. It is telling that the first ever Bandstand built in the Gardens was made the very same year that West Princes Street Gardens became completely open to the public. The Ross Bandstand is ready for its next iteration, a truly world class performance space for community in the heart of Edinburgh’s city centre.
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