The Drummond Scrolls

The north front of the old Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh. The old Royal Infirmary, designed by William Adam c1738, was an important public building that heralded Edinburgh’s emergence as an 18th-century modern capital city.

The hospital, situated just off Infirmary Street, was demolished in 1884. This symmetrical early Georgian building had advanced end pavilions, and a five-bayed centrepiece with six Ionic pilasters, above which is a domed belfry flanked by two huge leafy scrolls, one with thistles and the other with roses. By 1864 the Infirmary was considered too small and under-ventilated, and a new infirmary was designed in 1872 in Lauriston Place.

After the demolition of the old Infirmary in 1884, parts of its frontispiece were reused at Redford House, Colinton.

Two massive scrolls with leaf and flower carving, built into the south wall of the stable block at Redford House. On stone on ground (incised letters):

To whom 
His Country is indebted
for all the Benefits
which it derives from


Please Note: The nearby “Covenanters’ Monument” was erected in 1885 and incorporates four massive Ionic pillars which were part of a colonnade in front of the old medical building.

Footnote: As a schoolboy I was a paperboy for Redford. With my friends, Robert and Richard we used to ‘stock’ Bonaly Burn with perch caught in Craiglochart pond. When coming home from Town on the 45 bus, sitting on the top deck, I could see these scrolls behind the Redford wall. I had no idea then that they were from Edinburgh’s first Royal Infirmary and that between them was one of Scotland’s first operating theatres!

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