Newcraighall Monuments – Edinburgh, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

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Newcraighall Monuments

Mining, a local filmmaker, and a philanthropist doctor all commemorated within a small space in suburban Edinburgh 


Newcraighall, a small suburb of the Scottish capital of Edinburgh was established in 1827. It was formerly known as Whitehill, and was one of the city’s main coal mining areas until 1968. It is also associated with several people important to Scottish history. All of these folks are commemorated with monuments within the space of approximately one block of each other.

The first of these, from west to east, is the “Spirit of Community.” This carved stone column depicts miners as well as several symbols crucial to this profession, such as a ladder, dog, and chainsaw. The rock was sculpted by Jake Harvey under commission by the Councils of Scottish Arts and Edinburgh District and was unveiled in 1989.

A few meters away, visitors will find a now disused drinking fountain dedicated to Dr. Andrew Balfour. Balfour was a philanthropist who preoccupied himself with the welfare of the mining community of Newcraighall. It was for this reason that the fountain was erected in June 1907, honoring him posthumously after his death in December 1906.

Finally, a plaque can be found on the house where Bill Douglas spent his childhood and where he was likely born in 1934. Douglas was a film director best known for a film trilogy that started with 1972’s My Childhood. The trilogy was based on memories of his early experiences in Newcraighall and Edinburgh.

The plaque was unveiled in 1996 in celebration of the centenary of cinema. Like the Balfour fountain, it was unveiled posthumously, as Douglas passed away in 1991.

Know Before You Go

The sculpture is located in a public park on the south side of Newcraighall Road (A6095), marked on the map. The fountain can be found a few meters to the east on the corner of this road and Klondyke Street.

The plaque is installed on the front facade of number 28, across the road on the northern sidewalk.

The town of Newcgraighill is on the No. 1 cycle path of the National Cycle Network. It takes about a half hour to cycle out from the city center.

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