Edinburgh City Chambers
The current building was originally built as the Royal Exchange, which was funded by subscription and commissioned in 1753. Building began in 1754 and was completed in 1761, to designs by John Adam with detail alterations by John Fergus.
The building works absorbed many small streets, commonly known in Edinburgh as "closes", that ran north to south across the breadth of the site. The Royal Exchange building sat partially on top of the truncated buildings on the closes that were subsequently blocked-off. These now underground closes were still accessible but were closed for public access for many years until reopened as part of the tourist attraction 'The Real Mary King's Close' were vistitors can book guided tours of the underground houses hidden beneath one of the city’s most famous buildings.
The Exchange was opened in 1760 by Lord Provost George Drummond. The Exchange never proved popular with the merchants, for whom it was built, who persisted in meeting at the Mercat Cross or, rather, where it stood before it was removed in 1756. The Town Council took over the north range in 1811 as the City Chambers and by 1893 had bought the whole building.
The main building is set back from the High Street behind a quadrangle fronted by a groin-vaulted open arcade screen facing the street. There is a prominent bronze statue of Alexander Taming Bucephalus, by John Steell, in the quadrangle. This was modelled in 1832 but not cast in bronze until 1883. It stood in St Andrew Square until 1916. The "Great War Stone", within the arcade on the High Street, commemorates residents of the royal burgh who lost their lives in World War I. The monument was unveiled by Prince Henry on Armistice Day in 1927, and a further commemorative inscription was added after World War II.
Most of the interior and all of the main Council Chambers date from 1875 to 1890 and are by the City Architect of the time, Robert Morham. He also built the north-west wing in 1898 and the arched arcade fronting the courtyard in 1901.
Cluster of important buildings
The City Chambers is part of an A-listed group all of which are A-listed in their own right:
- Nos 2–11 Parliament Square - Supreme Courts of Scotland
- Advocates Library
- Signet Library
- Parliament Hall
- 1 Parliament Square
- St Giles High Kirk
- Charles II Statue (see List of public art in Edinburgh)
- Lothian Chambers
- Queensberry Memorial (see list of public art in Edinburgh)
- Mercat Cross, Edinburgh
- Historic Environment Scotland. "City Chambers, 245-249 High Street (even numbers), 253 High Street, 323 High Street, 329 High Street, 2 Warriston's Close and 14 Cockburn Street, Edinburgh (LB17597)". Retrieved 18 April 2019.
- Grant, James. Old and New Edinburgh. 1. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
- Buildings of Scotland:Edinburgh by McWilliam Gifford and Walker
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- Politics of Edinburgh
- Dunfermline City Chambers
- Glasgow City Chambers
- Scotland Malawi Partnership, based at the City Chambers