The Smith’s Land disaster resulted in William Chambers’ aim to demolish the condemned property in the centre of the city and build new streets and tenements. The civic improvement plan got under way when the publisher was elected Lord Provost of Edinburgh in 1865.
A tenement in the High Street known as Smith’s Land collapsed in November 1861. Thirty five men, women and children lost their lives in the disaster.
The Vennel connects Laurieston Place to the Grassmarket. The city wall can be seen on the right.
The cattle market lay at the west end of Laurieston Place. Middle Meadow walk can be seen on the left of the engraving. George Watson’s School was converted into the Royal Infirmary.
The uniform worn by the George Watson’s pupils was similar to the uniform worn by the boys attending George Heriot’s.
George Watson’s School in Laurieston Place lay directly across the road from Heriot’s.
The birthday of the school’s founder is celebrated annually on 4th June.
The paving stones in the quadrangle are numbered. Each pupil stood on the number he had been allocated to be counted during roll call.
The pupils wore short jackets and grey trousers. They were also issued with glengarry caps. The identity number allocated to the wearer was sewn on a label inside the cap.
Dr Bedford was appointed headmaster in 1854