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]”