The Royal Hospital for Sick Children was first located on these premises in Marchmont/Sciennes in 1895 following a move from Meadowside and Plewlands House (formerly Morningside College). This relocation and development was made possible by a combination of gifts from the community and established institutions, long before the property came into the ownership of the as yet unestablished National Health Service (most notably, a generous move in the 1890s by the Royal Infirmary offering £12,500 to build at Rillbank (Sciennes) in exchange for Meadowside; and by numerous local and national donations, including Lady Jane Dundas’s donation of £10,000).
The site can be described in the following three zones:
(i) Main Hospital building and Mortuary Chapel
The main building is an imposing and beautiful red sandstone building (basement, ground and four upper floors), designed by George Washington Browne, the Scottish architect notable for a number of iconic buildings in Edinburgh, including the Caledonian Hotel and the Central (Carnegie) library; this is category B listed by Historic Environment Scotland. The Mortuary Chapel, located on the north east of the main hospital building, is a two-storey sandstone building containing a small room decorated in the late 1800s with murals by the renowned Scottish Arts and Crafts artist, Phoebe Anna Traquair; this is category A listed. See Annex 3 buildings shaded red.
(ii) Victorian Terraced Villas
Rillbank Terrace and Rillbank Crescent are dominated by a large number of Victorian terraced sandstone villas (rare in the south side of Edinburgh) and tenement properties. Originally constructed as residential dwellings, over time these have been purchased to support growing clinical care requirements of the hospital – many are interconnected and have been subject to additions and alterations. The properties are largely two and three-storey buildings with the exception of three-storey and basement corner blocks at numbers 1 and 18 Rillbank Terrace and number 4 Rillbank Crescent. Millerfield Place (numbers 11 to 21 inclusive – category C listed) were built in 1864 and are notable examples of a planned terrace. Similar to the Rillbank buildings, they are mostly two and 2.5 storey terraced villas with the exception of the corner blocks arranged over lower ground, ground and two upper floors at numbers 19, 20 and 21. All these buildings are located within a conservation area. See Annex 3 buildings shaded yellow.
(iii) Mix of Buildings
The southeast section of the site has been subject to multiple developments over the years, with various buildings including the Outpatients building and the Accident and Emergency department (built from the community’s donation of £15m in 1992).
The Historic Environment Scotland listing status of the buildings is as follows:
- Main Building: Category B listed
- Mortuary Chapel: Category A listed
- Millerfield Place: Category C listed (formerly category B listed)
- Rillbank Crescent and Rillbank Terrace: Unlisted (formerly Category B listed)
- Outpatient’s building: Unlisted (formerly Category B listed)
Read about our development proposals for the site.
Go back to the Sick Kids project overview.