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George Drummond


1687 - 1766

Politician and visionary planner. Born at Newton Castle, Blairgowrie (Perth and Kinross), Drummond became Edinburgh's most famous Lord Provost, holding this office six times between 1725 and 1764. He was educated at the High School in Edinburgh and began his career as an accountant, working on the financial details of the Act of Union (1707). He was a noted anti-Jacobite, having fought against John Erskine (1675 - 1732), the 6th Earl of Mar, at Sheriffmuir (1715) and then raising a company of men to try to repel Bonnie Prince Charlie (1745).

Drummond joined the Edinburgh Town Council in 1716 and was singly responsible for initiating the biggest programme of public works the city has ever seen. He raised funds to build a grand 200-bed Royal Infirmary, designed by William Adam (1738), which quickly became one of the world's foremost teaching hospitals, and commissioned the Royal Exchange (1760), which later became the City Chambers. He was also a great supporter of the University of Edinburgh, encouraged its enlargement and established five chairs of medicine.

Drummond is best known as the driving force behind the building of Edinburgh's 'New Town'. He was determined to overcome the unhealthy and overcrowded conditions which blighted the tightly-packed closes of the Old Town and persuaded the Town Council to support an ambitious plan to create a grand extension on the city on its north side and to hold a competition for the design. It was this competition which was won by the young James Craig in 1766. Drummond also drained the insanitary Nor' Loch (1759) and identified the need for the North Bridge as the gateway to the New Town, laying its foundation stone in 1763.

He is buried in the churchyard of the Canongate Kirk and his name is remembered in Drummond Place, in his New Town, where he had a fine mansion, and Drummond Street, next to the site previously occupied by the Royal Infirmary.


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