Area Info

Azalea Gardens

The small and delightful garden in the south-east corner of the former Suffolk Road Halls of Residence (now East Suffolk Park) is known locally as ‘the Azalea Garden’. The buildings round the quadrangle were developed from 1914 in a progressive move by an educational consortium (the Carnegie Trust, the University of Edinburgh, Moray House College of Education, the College of Art and the Episcopal Church of Scotland) to provide the first secure halls of residence for women students. Its architectural quality is acknowledged in its ‘B-listing’ by Historic Scotland. In recent years the halls have been restored and converted into housing.

It has been assumed that the Azalea Garden dated from the original foundation, but the real origin is more intriguing. I am indebted here to conversations with the late Stanley Liberkowski, the long-standing Janitor of the adjacent St Margaret’s School. The garden was in fact a gift to the City from the Danish state on behalf of the Dansk Statsradiofonriens Orkester (Danish State Broadcasting Orchestra, Copenhagen). This orchestra was invited to perform at the 4th Edinburgh International Festival in 1950, and they were housed in the Suffolk Halls.

This had not been the original plan. The Scotsman recounted that the 100-strong orchestra had arrived at Leith in a 2000-ton Danish ship which was to to act as a floating hotel. However, the crossing had been extremely rough, and most of the musicians had suffered severe sea-sickness. The Lord Provost and the Danish Consul visited the ship a couple of days later, and it seems that the City and the Festival organisers rapidly realised that something had to be done. The result was that the orchestra was transferred to the quieter (and more stable) Suffolk Halls, then empty for the vacation, where the very large public rooms also provided excellent rehearsal space.

Three concerts at the Usher Hall followed in quick succession, under the batons of Erik Tuxen, the orchestra’s conductor, and Fritz Busch, who had been involved in the orchestra from its inception. The contralto Kathleen Ferrier, and the pianist Cladio Arrau were soloists at two of the concerts. This marked the first major Scandinavian contribution to the Festival and the concerts were very well received and warmly reviewed. The Scotsman observed that they had given the “the best kind of Festival offering”, and the result of their rescue by the City, in appreciation for this hospitality, was the Azalea Garden – still one of the cherished parts of the Craigmillar Park Conservation Area.

Saving Liberton Bank House

The childhood home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Liberton Bank House is an important local landmark that was under threat of demolition. Read the article below, written by Dr Allen Simpson, which was first published in our October 2004 Newsletter, descibing the history of the attempts to save the building. After extensive feasibility studies, it was determined that the most appropriate use for the building would be an educational establishment run by the Dunedin School. The building was gifted by Kilmartin Property to Cockburn Conservation Trust in October 2006, with restoration work completed in time for the commencement of the 2007-8 school term. Read the full article on the Buildings at Risk website.


Craigmillar Park Bowling Club

Situated in our Conservation Area, Craigmillar Park Bowling Club extends a warm welopeningdaycome to new members in all age categories, previous experience of bowling is not necessary. Trained coaches are on hand to provide assistance, and all equipment (shoes, bowls) can be provided by the Club.   For full information go to      

0logoOne of the foremost names in Scottish tennis, Waverley Lawn Tennis Club was formed in 1885 on its present secluded, yet accessible site in our Conservation Area. The club is very active and welcomes new members. Their facilities include –

4 artificial grass tennis courts, all floodlit – 2 traditional plaster-walled squash courts, with viewing gallery – 1 mini-tennis court

Click HERE to view their website for full information about joining and other facilities on offer.

Craigmillar Park Golf Club

the-16th-2If you would like to play a golf course that is close to the centre of Edinburgh yet within the Green belt; with fantastic views down the coast of East Lothian and across the Firth to Fife; where you won’t hear the intrusive sounds of traffic and are likely to spot deer, then look no further than Craigmillar Park Golf Club. Visit  Website for details.

A History of the Craigmillar Park Area

The following account of the historical development of the Craigmillar Park Conservation Area was written by Dr. Allen Simpson as a reference for use in the preparation of the formal Character Appraisal, which was published, by the City, last year. It has been printed here in full because it was thought to be of wider interest.



A Resident’s View of the Past 20 Years

Local resident Allan Blacklaws shares his thoughts on the changes in the area over the past two decades.



Down in the Dell 

Local Scout Leader, Jonathan Tait, gives an insight into Scouting in the area in an article from our October 2005 Newsletter.