Old and New Edinburgh

Old and New Edinburgh

Volume IV

THE MESSRS, NELSON. 355 The Meadows.] G. H., cut in wood, remained in Several parts of the l?ouse. The Rev. Dr. Steven, gpvernor of the hospital, presented a coloured drawing of the house to the Messrs. Nelson, as “the country residence of the founder of the hospital.” It perished in the fire of 1878, but another is preserved. The house was also, about 1800, the abode of an aged lady, well known to those of Jacobite proclivities in Edinburgh, Mrs. Hannah Robertson, an alleged grand-daughter of Charles II., and whose sister was ancestress of the Mercers of Gorthy. She died in 1808. The well-known firm of the Messrs. Nelson and Sons was originally established by the late Mr. Thomas Nelson, whose first business premises were in a small corner shop at the head of the West Bow, only lately removed, where he published cheap editions of the “ Scots Worthies,” Baxter’s “Saints’ Rest,” and similar works; but it was not until his sons entered the business that the work of the firm was placed upon a wider basis. Mr. Nelson was born at a village called Throsk, near Stirling, in 1780. When twenty years of age he went to London, and after experiencing his own share of difficulties, familiar to young men in pushing their way in the world, he at last entered the service of a publishing house in Paternoster Row. This determined the course of his career. One of his early associates in London was the late Mr. Kejly, publisher, afterwards raised to the Lord Mayor’s chair. Mr. Nelson had begun by this time to show that love for the standard works of the old theological school which characterised him in afteI iife. He remained for some years in London, and then came to Edinburgh, where he soon signalized himself as a publisher. Cheap issues are a common feature of the publishing trade of the country now, but it was otherwise in the beginning of the century, and he was among the first to introduce the new order 01 things by the publication of works like those ol Paley, Leighton, Romaine, Newton, and many ithers. For several years in the latter part of his life le was more or less of an invalid. He died, at the ige of eighty, on the 23rd of March, 1861. He .ies buried in Edinburgh in the Grange cemetery, iext to the grave of Hugh Miller. The Messrs. Nelsons’ range of offices at Hope Park were on a scale surpassing any similar place 2f business in Edinburgh, as it consisted of three :onjoined blocks of neat and plain design, forming as many sides of a square. In the main building were three floors, and machinery was used wherever it was available, and by means of that and an admirably organised system of the division of labour, the amount of literary work turned out was enormous. The process of stereotyping, which was invented by Mr. William Ged, a goldsmith in Edinburgh, and has been brought to the highest perfection in the place of its birth, was here greatly in practice. By 1870 the Messrs. Nelson employed fully 600 workpeople, the half of whom were young women, and on theii own premises they manufactured all the inks used in printing, and the varnishes for bookbinding. The whole of their extensive premises were destroyed by a calamitous fire, after which the Messrs. Nelson erected new offices and workshops upon several acres of land, known as Parkside, with a fine frontage to the old Dalkeith Road, south of “The Castle of Clouts,” and near what was called of old the Gibbet TolL Erected by the Messrs. Nelson in 1881, two handsome pillars, surmounted respectively by the Unicorn and Lion, now ornament the entrance to the Melville Drive at the east end of the Meadows. These pillars stand near the site of their former premises, and were erected as a gift to the city, in commemoration of the kindness and sympathy shown to tkm by the magistrates at the time of the great fire. CHAPTER XLII. LAURISTON. The New University B u i l d h ~ l ’ h c Estimates and Accommodation-George Watson’s Hospital-Founded-Opened and Sold--The New Infirmary-Its Capabilities for Accommodation-Simpwn Memorial Hospital-Sick C h i l M s Hospital-Mberdust Maiden Haspitai- Watson’s SchoobIauriston United Resbyterian Church-St. Catharine’s Convent. IN the district of Lauriston we find quite a cluster of charitable institutions ; but before treating of the more ancient one-Heriot’s Hospital-we shall describe those edifices which lie between the street and the northern walk of the Meadows In the city map of 1787, after Watson’s Hospital,
Volume 4 Page 355
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