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A history of Fountain Court

Established in 1999, Fountain Court was once home to St. Cuthbert’s Dairy and Stables. Edinburgh’s Fountainbridge enjoys a delightfully quirky past. First established as a suburb sometime after 1696, it became home to a travelling circus in the 18th century, and in the 20th century, James Bond himself grew up here, in the form of a young Sir Sean Connery.

© Banner image credit Colin Lourie

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McEwan’s Fountain Brewery

McEwan’s Fountain Brewery once stood right around the corner from Fountain Court. In 1856, William McEwan borrowed £2000 from his mother and uncle to build his brewery. He chose this location for its local spring water source and the easy access to the Union Canal and Caledonian Railway.

The company became famous for its popular India Pale Ale, going on to employ 170 workers within 15 years of opening. McEwan’s soon became one of the biggest and most successful breweries in the UK, exporting ales all around the world.

A century after its inception, in 1960, McEwan’s Brewery merged with Newcastle Breweries.

© Image credit Peter Stubbs

St. Cuthbert’s Dairy and Stables

We provide fresh milk for your arrival at Fountain Court, but some decades ago you could have arranged for milk to be delivered by horse-drawn carriage.

St Cuthbert’s Co-op, established in 1860, kept a dairy on nearby Gardner’s Crescent. Their delivery horses were stabled at Grove Street, which is now home to Fountain Court Apartments. So popular was this dairy that they continued to deliver milk on horse-drawn floats from their Grove Street stables for 125 years, stopping only in 1985.

If you lived in Fountainbridge in the 1940s, you might have even had your milk delivered by a young Sean Connery, who began working for the dairy as a 13-year-old in 1944.

You can still pop to St. Cuthbert’s for your milk today. It’s now known as Scotmid and has hundreds of stores nationwide.

© Reproduced by courtesy of Evening News

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The Union Canal

Constructed 200 years ago, in 1822, the 31.5 mile-long Union Canal was designed to link with Falkirk’s Forth and Clyde Canal, connecting Edinburgh to Glasgow. Very patient passengers in the 19th century could travel between the two cities on a 13-hour boat ride: a route which today takes just an hour by car or train.

Remember St. Cuthbert’s Grove Street stables, where the dairy kept their delivery horses? One of many stables in the area, they would all ship their horse manure along the canal to farms, for use as fertiliser.

Just 20 years after the canal’s completion, most passengers had switched to faster railway travel, so the waterways became used primarily for delivering bulky goods to the city centre. And by 1933, the canal was rarely used at all, and so was closed to commercial journeys.

Today, the Union Canal is home to a fleet of colourful houseboats and sailing barges, as well as a floating café. Why not grab a coffee and cake on your waterside walk?

© Reproduced by courtesy of Scottish Canals

The North British Rubber Factory

In 1856, two American bootmakers bought a patch of land from the Castle Mills silk company in Fountainbridge. Together, they established one of the world’s first rubber factories, starting up with just four workers.

By 1875, staff numbers had rocketed to more than 600, and the factory was turning out the world’s first Hunter Wellington boots, as well as hot water bottles, car tyres and golf balls.

The North British Rubber Company had over 9000 workers during the First World War, toiling 24 hours a day to make more than a million rubber boots for the army, helping keep trench foot at bay.

Then in the Second World War, the factory once again stepped up to produce an enormous quantity of boots, tyres and gas masks for the British military.

After sitting empty for 15 years, in 2019 the Castle Mills building was reimagined into a creative space which incorporates a print studio, galleries, shop, café, learning zone, and artist quarters. Be sure to check it out when you stay!

© Reproduced by courtesy of Evening News

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New Fountainbridge

New Fountainbridge is an ongoing canalside regeneration project, developing new homes, offices and leisure facilities in the area. Bringing even more shops, bars, restaurants and gyms to the city, it’s an exciting time for residents and visitors alike.

Already a bustling hub, Fountain Park is home to dozens of big-name businesses. This retail centre makes daily life easy by bringing together Nuffield gym, Guy & Beard barbers, and Starbucks; they cook up a storm between Five Guys, Nando’s and Frankie & Benny’s; and they inject fun into the weekend at Cineworld, Tenpin bowling, and Volcano Falls adventure golf.

And of course, there’s the Financial District. Edinburgh is only second to London as the UK’s top financial centre, with many major businesses located in the West End and Fountainbridge, including Standard Life, Scottish Widows, Standard Life, Baillie Gifford and the Clydesdale Bank.

Fountainbridge has long been a foundation for thriving industry, and today, it’s no different.

© Reproduced by courtesy of New Fountainbridge

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