The Foundation Stone

25 October 1912

  Lord Provost Sir William S Brown yesterday, amid civic ceremony, and in the presence of a large gathering of inhabitants, laid the foundation stone of the Portobello Town Hall, a description of which was published in The Scotsman on Wednesday, Accompanying the Lord Provost were the Magistrates and Council in their official robes, accompanied by the Chief City Officer, the mace and sword bearers and halberdiers, and the Moderator, Vice-Moderator, ex Moderator and Secretary of the Edinburgh High Constables. Amongst others present at the ceremony, which took place within the grounds of Inverey House, where the building is to be erected, were Lady Brown and the Misses Brown, Mrs Moscrip, Mrs Brand, ex-Provost Brand, ex-Bailie Grieve, Mr George Balfour and Mr J. W. McHattie.

The Rev. Dr Jamieson having opened the proceedings with prayer, Councillor Moscrip, Convener of the Plans and Works Committee of the Edinburgh Town Council, detailed the obligations so far as Portobello was concerned, at the time of amalgamation. In Parliament these were stated at £42,500 but in the spring of 1909 when the city came to count up what had been expended on that fair burgh it was found that the capital and ordinary expenditure amounted, not to £42,500, but to £115,000, so that the Corporation did extremely well in their bargain. Possession of Inverey House was got in August last, and they would agree that no time had been lost since then in seeing that the foundation-stone was laid in the month of October. When the work was completed the total amount, it was expected, would not exceed, roughly, £8000. (Applause.)


Mr Williamson, the City Architect, who has prepared the designs, thereafter placed a plate on a cavity in the stone, into which had been deposited a copy of The Scotsman of yesterdays’ date, the Edinburgh Evening Dispatch and Edinburgh Evening News of Thursday, and a copy of the Portobello Advertiser, together with specimens of the current coins of the realm. Lime having been spread on the top of the stone, the Lord Provost passed a silver trowel to and for through the mortar, and the upper stone was lowered into position by the builder, Mr Robb. The Lord Provost then tapped the stone at the four corners with a presentation mallet, and, turning to those present, he pronounced the stone as having been well and truly laid, an announcement which was received with loud cheers. The Convener thereafter presented the Lord Provost with trowel and mallet as mementoes of the occasion.

Sir William Slater Brown. Lord Provost of Edinburgh (City Art Centre)


The Lord Provost said he congratulated the people of Portobello that they saw the day the beginning of the hall promised them sixteen years ago, and he congratulated his colleagues in the Town Council that they were at last going to implement a bargain which they promised to implement as soon as convenient. They had taken a long time, but then they only promised to give a hall that would cost £4000, whereas this hall was likely to cost double that sum.. Those who had watched the progress of Portobello since it was amalgamated with Edinburgh must have been satisfied that that it was a good thing for Portobello that Edinburgh showed its appreciation of the seaside resort. For sometime before the amalgamation the death-rate in Portobello was higher than in the whole of Edinburgh. He was glad to be able to say that that Portobello was now the lowest of the various wards in the city. (Applause.) Edinburgh on the other hand had no reason to complain of the bargain it had made. Portobello was the ward in the city which had made most progress during the last ten years. There was now an increase in the properties belonging to Portobello of £18,000 in the rateable area. They were all proud to see Provost Brand with them that day. They were only four members of the present Council who were there sixteen years ago, and as the only one remaining of those who were in London when the negotiations were completed, he felt it was his duty to see that, if possible, that hall should be begun before he demitted office (Applause.)

Mrs Brand and Mrs Knight, on behalf of the ladies of Portobello, thereafter presented to Lady Brown a gold purse and solid silver and china coffee service, gifts which Lady Brown acknowledged by saying that she would keep them as mementoes of that interesting occasion. To Mrs Moscrip Mr McHattie presented a bouquet. Tea was afterwards served to the company invited to be present at the ceremony.

The Scotsman 26 October 1912