View Full Version : BREMNER and Begg's Buildings. Edinburgh 1881-1906

24-08-2007, 7:23 PM

I'm just starting to write up my Bremner family history. Though most of them were in Cullen, Banffshire, two brothers lived at Begg's Buildings about 30 years apart!

The first brother lived at 13a Begg's Buildings, Canongate district of Edinburgh in 1880-1881. Though in the 1881 census it is listed as A block, Beggs Building, South Leith, Edinburgh.

The second brother was living at 3 Begg's Buildings, Abbeyhill, Newington district of Edinburgh in 1906.

From searching the internet, it is likely that these buildings are part of the co-op "colonies" set up by Reverend Begg to improve housing for the working class.

Would anyone with local knowledge know whether there was only one set of Begg's Buildings and the district name just changed over time, or were there many groups of Begg's buildings dotted around Edinburgh?

Are there any photos of these buildings, or the area in general available?

Any information would be appreciated.



Mary Young
26-08-2007, 11:10 AM
Hello, Michelle
My husband Murdo was brought up in Maryfield, a stone's throw from "Begg's Buildings" I also passed it sometimes on my way home to Northfield from school in the Canongate.
The 1881 census implies 5 blocks of homes - Blocks A and B, and Tenements 1, 2 and 3. But we remember only one large block, perhaps 4 storeys high, with a main door to an internal stair, plus galleries/walkways of plain wrought iron.
As far as we can see, the building(s) are no more; they were in the area now called Abbey Street, behind the school and Abbeyhill Church.
Across the main road (London Road) there are seven streets of traditional "Colonies" which are two-storey terraces, the lower floor opening onto one one street and the upper floor onto next street. Sounds weird but it gave all the dwellings their own door and little patch of garden.
Alva Place is one of this group http://www.streetsofedinburgh.co.uk/Alva%20Place.htm
Well I learned something from you today. We always said "Begg's Buildings" and had never heard of Dr Begg and his good works.

26-08-2007, 4:06 PM
Thanks for the links and the info. Looking at the houses, I'm guessing one household would have the top floor and attic. The other household would have the ground floor and possibly a basement. maybe just a coincidence, but both my relatives were railway workers. I believe the elder brother might have got work on the railways for the younger brother as the younger one returned to Scotland from England about 1901-1906. He then returned back to Kent in England by 1910.


Mary Young
26-08-2007, 6:41 PM
Looking at the houses, I'm guessing one household would have the top floor and attic. The other household would have the ground floor and possibly a basement.
Yes, that was the usual configuration for the "Colonies". Some have basements depending on the terrain.
However, as I said, Begg's Buildings was a tenement or group of tenements, with an outside gallery/walkway on each floor. I think this building at High School Yards near the University is (or was) similar. http://tinyurl.com/2xskfl

26-08-2007, 7:44 PM
Thanks for the link. It's good to see photo's as it helps to picture how they lived.