1. The Bowling Green

Before the site became a church, it was home to one of the many bowling greens in Edinburgh. On this map you can see the area of the church marked as bowling green. Sadly, any historical information about this particular bowling green was difficult to find. However, the number of bowling greens present on the […]

Read More 1. The Bowling Green

2. The First and Second Churches

Before the building that we are in now was built, the site was home to two other church buildings. The first one of them was the Potter Row Church established in 1765. It was the result of a “walk-out” by a considerable proportion of the congregation at the nearby Lady Yester’s Church.  The walk out […]

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3. United Presbyterian Church

In 1847, the 118 Relief Churches in Scotland formed a union with all the congregations of the United Secession Church and became the United Presbyterian Church. Therefore, the church on South College Street was renamed College Street United Presbyterian Church.  Overall, the middle of the 19th century was a period of significant change for Scottish […]

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4. The Third Church Building

The building that we are in now was constructed in 1856. It was designed by Patrick Wilson, an Edinburgh-based architect who designed churches, schools and residential buildings in the city and broader Scotland. At the time Wilson was also known as a strong advocate of purpose-built housing for the poor, and he worked closely with […]

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5. The Organ

Installed in early 1874 by Edinburgh‐based piano tuner/organ builder Frederick Holt. Reputed to have been the first in a United Presbyterian Church in Edinburgh (and possibly Scotland). It was a 3‐manual 22‐stop pipe organ. The first public performance took place on 2nd April 1874, when it was played by Frederick Holt and others. The organ […]

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6. The Union United Free Church

Soon after the Disruption, amongst other parts of the city, mission work was begun in the Cowgate district lying in the valley 200 yards to the north of South College Street.  This was initially conducted by members of the congregation of the New North Free Church and culminated in a congregation being formed in 1853, […]

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7. The stained glass window

The stained glass window that is currently visible from the second and third floors of the building is dedicated to Rev. Thomas Cochrane, who was the first minister of Pleasance United Free Church. Rev. Cochrane died in July 1902. The window was designed and produced under the direction of Mr. John Taylor Stewart, the chief […]

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8. University of Edinburgh Reading Room

The church building was acquired by the University of Edinburgh in 1961 and soon became one of its reading rooms. Sadly, it was impossible to find any visual material from this time. However, some memories from this period still remain. Peter Freshwater, the former Deputy University Librarian, and a student at Edinburgh in the early 1960’s […]

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9. Reconstruction

When the Main Library was opened in 1969 on George Square, all the reading rooms could be relocated there, and their buildings were put to other uses. This marked the start of one of the saddest chapters in the history of the building. Following the reading room’s relocation to the Main Library, the building became […]

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10. Edinburgh Futures Institute and DDI

The Study Space and Exhibition For one year, 2022-23, South College Street Church is home to the Edinburgh Futures Institute. In order to make the space more home-like, the EFI Creative Projects Team brought in a curated selection of artworks, photographs, commissioned signage, large-scale printed cloth banners, stickers and specially-designed wallpaper, and a selection of […]

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