Text prepared for Doors Open Day
Elmbank Crescent, built in the 1840s or 1850s, is a straight street but note the front of the multi-storey car park opposite and you will see the curved building line of the houses which stood there until the 1860s and gave the name ‘Crescent’. On the south side of the street there was a continuous straight terrace of houses, of which only number 38 remains. The houses to the east were replaced in 1917 by the Shipbuilders and Engineers’ Institute, now the Scottish Opera building. The houses on the west of number 38 remained until the 1970s when they were replaced by the present Council offices.
38 Elmbank Crescent is about 25 feet (8m) wide and 40 feet (13m) deep, four storeys high, built of yellow sandstone probably from the Giffnock quarry.
The benches which line the walls of the Meeting Room originally came from the Pleasance Meeting House in Edinburgh which was closed in 1939. They were brought to furnish the newly opened Meeting House in Newton Terrace in 1944. They are secured with rectangular wrought-iron nails and therefore probably date from the early 1800s or even earlier – the Pleasance Meeting House was built in 1791.
Elmbank Crescent is, quite obviously, no longer a crescent. It was though in the 19th century, and our Meeting House is across the street from what was once a curve of terraced houses. The Crescent is now the parking garage, and its left side was obliterated by the motorway, but the name stuck.
Our Meeting House, and some of the buildings on Elmbank Street, are the sole survivors of what was once a unified row of terraced housing. Use these maps from the NLS to imagine what that area of town would have looked like.