We have written before about historic buildings or artifacts that have disappeared from the area – this month we went looking for a village.
This month Tipperlinn Road was closed to traffic and chaos ensued in the surrounding streets. It also prompted the question – what and where was Tipperlinn?
If we were to caste an eye back to the 18th century we would see nothing of the urbanization of today. To the west of Merchiston Tower beside the Napier estate a right of way ran close to what is now Tipperlinn Road and down to the Jordan burn. Tipperlinn (in Gaelic ‘the well at the waterfall’) is described in Charles Smith’s Historic South Edinburgh as a picturesque hamlet where people would travel from Edinburgh to enjoy afternoon teas overlooking the farmlands of Myreside stretching away to the west and enjoying views to the Braids, Craiglockhart and Pentland hills unobstructed by buildings.
The village is perhaps better remembered for its weaving industry. It is one to the local communities reflected in the Church Hill Milestones with a fine granite carving of a weaver’s shuttle in recognition of the craftpeople of the village. The village itself seems to have consisted of 12 two-storey houses – workshops at ground level and living quarters above – which straddled the road near the current Tipperlinn House in the grounds of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.
With the well providing an ample water supply to assist with the dying process the village weavers had a good reputation forproducing fine linens for the tea tables of even the most elegant of Edinburgh drawing rooms. Indeed one of their number– a certain Ebenezer Gairdiner – through supplying the then Countess of Sutherland with tea-towels, became in 1771 by Royal Appointment – Damask Manufacturer to Queen Charlotte (wife of George III).
In these days boundaries were fiercely guarded quite possibly because there had been a history of the lairds of Napier encroaching on their neighbours rights. Edinburgh even had its own version of the Riding of the Marches which we associate with the borders towns. There is record of the Tipperlinn boundaries being ridden in
what was the last procession in 1771.
The first hospital to be located close by at East House opened in 1813 and it appears that as the hospital expanded the right of way was steadfastly preserved by the villagers – to the extent that high walls surrounded it and the hospital staff and patients had to rely on tunnels to transfer between buildings when West House was established. With the continuing growth of the hospital however the inconvenience of the right of way appears to have triggered the village’s demise – the hospital managers solution to the conundrum was simply to buy the village. Weaving duly ceased at Tipperlinn in 1856. It is probable that the stone of the weavers houses has been subsumed into the buildings and gardens of the properties close by.
A good example of this is captured in the photograph which shows a stone lintel dating from 1789 embedded in a nearby wall (photo copyright Kim Traynor as part of the Geograph Britain and Ireland project which aims to collect geographically representative photographs of every square kilometer of the land)