History of Craigwell Brewery – Gordon & Blair/ John Blair

Doing a search on the internet of  ‘Craigwell Brewery’ turns up an article in the Scottish Brewing archive, which can be accessed here:


John Blair is quoted as the builder of the Craigwell Brewery in 1822.

Update: 2013 – Recently historians have been running tours of the Canongate Breweries – see this article for more.

Old Brewery Garden, Nether Craigwell, Calton Road, Edinburgh EH8 8DR

Dave Fiddimore, who has lived at Nether Craigwell since the conversion to residential properties in 1987, was on duty on the weekend of 5 May 2007 at the entrance to the Garden of Nether Craigwell which was open to the public at the ‘Open Gardens Day’ – Organised by the Cockburn Association in partnership with Edinburgh World Heritage.

Quoting from the flyer which Dave was handing out:

“Welcome to our wild garden behind a development of flats and houses inside the original superstructure of the Victorian Craigwell Brewery, once one of fourteen in a square mile. The name Craigwell was recorded for the area in 1647, describing a section of The North Back of Canongate (now Calton Road) between Leith Wynd, and what is now the boundary wall of the cemetry. The square stone lip of the well (Nether Craigwell – The well beneath the cliff) can still be seen in our courtyard. The longest range of building was the bonded warehouse, and the brewery garden rose behind it on the flank of Calton Hill – accessed via a tunnel, and steps from the courtyard.

It was once a beautiful garden, with specimen trees (Eucalyptus, Fir, apple and Birch) many of which are still there. It had a pagoda-like summer house, where there is now a small patio to the South East, and a ‘folly’ cairn in the North West Corner. The grooves in the gound across the current greens track the original garden paths and flower beds.

What you have come to see are the views – The Craigs, Arthur’s Seat and the incomporable Edinburgh skyline to the South and West. Burns Monument on Regent Road to the North West, and looking over The New Calton Cemetery, the roofs of Holyrood Palace and Whitehorse Loan to the East. [The 1814 New Calton Cemetery is worth an hour of your time. You will find the ‘Lighthouse’ Stevensons there, along with a Polish count and a man killed in 1842 during the British retreat from Kabul – what goes around, comes around. Enter from Regent Road.]

The current owners keep the garden ‘wildish’. Its wild residents and visitors include the Blackbird and Thrush, 4 kinds of Tit (Blue, Coal, Great and Long-tailed), Sparrows, Dunnock, Green, Bull and Chaf-finch, Tree creepers, Sparrow hawk and Kestrel, Starlings, Magpies – an urban Fox, Stoat, Pipistrelle Bats, Grey Squirrels, Field mice…the Hedgehogs are coming (but not here yet) and last week I watched the early arrival of the first Swallows. Sit for a while if the sun is shining, and enjoy its peace as much as we do… and let us know if you have any comment or suggestion re this “Brewery Garden” open day.

[DF 27th April 2007]”

Craigwell Brewery – 1987 Conversion to Dwelling Houses

In 1987 the old derelict warehousing/storage facilities which had formerly been Craigwell Brewery were converted to form 22 dwelling houses – a mixture of town houses, apartments and one semi-detached cottage (No. 16).

When researching this aspect of the history of Nether Craigwell and Craigwell Brewery, we found some photographs which had been taken by Groves Raines – Architects on the project. They kindly lent the photographs to Susan McNaughton who has digitised them and put them in a Picasa Web Album which can be viewed below.

Preparing to market Craigwell Cottage

On the evening our conditional offer was accepted we started to draft up a website which we will use to market the property. Is it sufficient to use www.2edinburgh.com for this purpose? I’ve set up a subdomain www.craigwell.2edinburgh.com for the purpose – is this attractive enough?

We also need to think about our strategy for marketing. It’s a fantastic property, and ‘ticks all the boxes’ for self-catering properties.

  • It has PARKING adjacent to the property inside a gated courtyard.
  • It has TWO BEDROOMS and will be furnished to sleep 4 – one double and one twin room
  • It has a shared garden to the rear of the property which is accessed by climbing very steep steps which reach up past the roofs of the townhouses opposite, but when you get up there it’s worth every step. Phenomenal VIEWS over Holyrood Palace, Holyrood Park, Salisbury Crags, and down to East Lothian.
  • It is within easy walking distance to Holyrood Palace, The Royal Mile, Dynamic Earth, The Scottish Parliament and Edinburgh City Centre

We need to think about:-

  1. Listing the new property on VisitScotland.com in lieu of our current holiday rental property, Sandcastle-in-the-City
  2. Working out which ‘free listing’ sites are worth listing on
  3. Contacting the staff at AboutScotland.com to see if they’d be interested in taking us on now that we have an interesting and unusual property to rent and not just a ‘run of the mill’, albeit luxurious one-bedroomed property.
  4. Are there ‘cottage’ sites which we could advertise on, given that we’re going to call the property Craigwell Cottage and it is a semi-detached cottage style property?
  5. What are the key attractions close to the apartment which would be of most interest to potential guests.
  6. Getting good photographs taken.
  7. Letting the guests who’ve already advance booked Sandcastle-in-the-City know that we’re offering them a superior property for their stay, but also accepting that they may have definite reasons for staying in the New Town rather than the Old Town.

Making an offer for an exciting new holiday rental property

We went to view a property at 16 Nether Craigwell, Edinburgh in mid January 2007. It was on the market at an “offers over” price, but quickly went to a “fixed price” as the owners neared the date when they had to move out. We felt we knew how much we wanted to pay, but having made our offer the owners were not prepared to accept it. It took a few weeks of going back and forth, and many long discussions between Sandy and I and our proposed lenders, but eventually on Thursday 22 February 2007 we made a conditional offer which was accepted.

Now all we’ve got to do is sell Sandcastle-in-the-City! It’s a great apartment and we’ve owned it since August 2001. We’ve kept it really well maintained and have done lots to it to keep it functional and attractive to our guests. So we’re sure that we’ll find a buyer quickly and we’ll be all set to start our business afresh in our new property. We’re very excited about it.