Pollock Halls of Residence

Pollock Halls of Residence are the main halls of residence for the University of Edinburgh, located at the foot of Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh, Scotland. They are located on the edge of Holyrood Park, 1ΒΌ miles (2 km) southeast of the centre of Edinburgh.

History of Site

The two original buildings on site were St Leonard's Hall and Salisbury Green, which were built in the 19th century. Shortly after World War II, Sir Donald Pollock (Rector of the University from 1939 to 1945) gifted the site to the University of Edinburgh and Pollock Halls of Residence came into being.

In the 1960s, a programme was begun to build more modern halls. The first of these was Holland House, which was designed by Sir William Kininmonth (1904-1988); followed shortly by its sister house, Fraser House. In the early 1990s, Holland House and Fraser House began to be run together, and are simply known these days as Holland House.

In the 1960s six system-built tower blocks were added, named in honour of former Edinburgh University Principals: Baird, Ewing, Lee, Turner, Brewster (since demolished) and Grant. At the same time, a Refectory block was opened. This was later named the John McIntyre Centre after the first Senior Warden of the complex, who also acted for a time as a Principal of the University.

The (at the time) largest house, Cowan House, was opened in 1973 replacing a hall of the same name which was demolished to make way for the regeneration of George Square. It was demolished in 2001 along with Brewster House. They were demolished to make way for Chancellor's Court, which opened in 2003 and is now the largest on the site.

A further hall, Masson House, was added in the early 1990s. The original Masson had been next to Cowan in George Square, but this was replaced by a Victorian house on South Lauder Road, which was extended for the purpose in 1966, but later sold.

In 2001 and 2002, Cowan House and Brewster House were demolished to make way for the new Chancellors Court development, which opened in 2003 and is now the largest on the site.

Current Houses

These days, the complex houses around 1900 students on full board. Pollock Halls of Residence are available to members of the public on a bed & breakfast basis during the vacation periods of The University of Edinburgh.

The Houses currently in Pollock Halls are:

Baird House

Baird House is a five-storey tower block which was built in the 1960s. It houses 167 students and two wardens. Named after George Husband Baird, Principal of the University from 1793 to 1840. The house is generally kept the busiest of the tower blocks throughout the vacation period.

Chancellor's Court

Chancellor's Court was built on the land previously occupied by Cowan House and Brewster House. It was designed by Oberlanders Architects and built by Balfour Beatty. Its construction began in 2001 when Cowan House was demolished, with the first phase opening in 2003. The final phase of the development was completed in 2004. Chancellor's Court has 526 bedrooms and three Wardens flats.

Several protests were held during construction, against construction company Balfour Beatty, who were at the time (2001) involved in the controversial Ilisu dam project. One of the protests was led by Mark Thomas, who helped the Edinburgh University People and Planet group organise a 'sit in' where students blocked the entrance to the building site. After these and other protests, Balfour Beatty withdrew their support for the Ilisu dam project.

Chancellor's Court is named after the Duke of Edinburgh, Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh.

Ewing House

Ewing House is a five-storey tower block which was built in the 1960s. It has 157 rooms. It was named after Sir Alfred James Ewing, Principal of the University of Edinburgh from 1916 to 1929.

Grant House

Grant House is one of the Halls in Pollock Halls of Residence in the University of Edinburgh.

It is a six-storey tower block, which was opened in 1967, and has been used as a student hall of residence continually ever since. These days it houses 195 students in single study bedrooms. It also contains two flats for the live-in Wardens. It was named after Sir Alexander Grant (1826-1884), principal of the University from 1868 to 1885.

Famous people to have lived in Grant House include Scottish Rugby captain Gregor Townsend.

Holland House

'Holland House was opened in 1959, followed shortly after by its sister house, Fraser House (not to be confused with Fraser Court, a block of University flats immediately adjacent to Pollock Halls, which is still in operation). In the early 1990s, Holland House and Fraser House were merged, and are today run as one single house called Holland House, with four blocks (named A up to D). There is also a small annexe which contains two self-catering flats used by postgraduates and mature students.

Holland House was named after Sir Thomas Henry Holland, Principal of the University from 1929 to 1944.

Lee House

Lee House is a five-storey tower block which was built in the 1960s. It was named after Sir John Lee, Principal of the University from 1840 to 1859.

Masson House

Masson House is a modern four-storey hall of residence, which holds 133 people in, mostly, single en-suite double-bedded rooms and was built in the 1990s.

Turner House

Turner House is a six-storey tower block which was built in the 1960s. It was named after Sir William Turner, Principal of the University from 1903 to 1916. It can hold up to 203 residents, with the majority of rooms being single study rooms, with shared toilets and showers, and 2 double sized rooms on the 1st and 5th floor for house wardens.

John Burnett House

Having been completed in July 2009, John Burnett House is the newest hall of residence in the Pollock site, named after Sir John Burnett, former principal of the University of Edinburgh.

Past Houses
Brewster House

Brewster House was a five-storey tower block which was built in the 1960s. It was demolished in summer 2002, and the land it stood on was used for the new Chancellors Court building. It was named after Sir David Brewster, principal of the University from 1859 to 1868.

Cowan House

Cowan House was a three-story hall of residence which was opened some time before 1933 and re-built in 1973. It comprised six blocks (named A up to F). It was demolished in the summer of 2001 and the land was used for the new Chancellors Court development.

Fraser House

See also Holland House, above. Not to be confused with Fraser Court

The building that used to be called Fraser House still exists, but has been merged with Holland House. Fraser House was named after Sir John Fraser, Principal of the University from 1944 to 1948.

Other Buildings on Site

The other buildings on-site at Pollock Halls are available for use as conference, meeting, dining and function rooms throughout the entire year. Edinburgh First is the commercial arm of the Accommodation Services within the University and is the main point of contact for the hire of these buildings.

John McIntyre Conference Centre

Comprising refectory, shop, and bar upstairs. The bar was previously known as the 'John McIntyre Centre Bar', but was refurbished and rebranded as 'Centro' in 2004. The building has recently (2009) undergone an extension and comprehensive refurbishment and has been renamed the John McIntyre Conference Centre.

Reception Centre

Opened in 1999, where administrative functions are based. The security team also have their office here.

St Leonard's Hall

Along with Salisbury Green, St Leonard's Hall is one of the original buildings on the Pollock Halls site. It is a Baronial style building, with pepper-pot turrets and a tower with corbelled-out bartizans and a cap-house which is said to be reminiscent of a Highland Croft House.

These days, St. Leonard's Hall is home to the administrative offices of The University of Edinburgh Accommodation Services, as well as function suites which are used for conferences and other functions.

The building was used as a Red Cross Hospital during World War I and thereafter served as the St. Trinnean's School for Girls until the Second World War, during which it became an Air Raid Precautions and Home Guard Headquarters. When the Halls of Residence were first started, St Leonard's became a hall of residence for female students until the completion of the more modern buildings on the site, when it adopted its current function as the administrative centre for the complex. A sympathetic internal restoration was completed post 2000.

Salisbury Green

Salisbury Green was one of the two original buildings on site, along with St Leonard's Hall. It was originally built around 1780 by Alexander Scott, and was extended again repeatedly - firstly in 1820, then remodelled in the baronial style in 1860-67 by architect John Lessels for its resident at the time, the publisher William Nelson (1816-87).

The building was acquired by the University after World War II and extended once again in 1979. Several of its public rooms have been restored including the bow-fronted drawing room to the east, the Red Room with ebony fittings and the oak-panelled billiard room. Its interior includes rich painting by Charles Frechou.

In 2006, Salisbury Green was given a thorough refurbishment, and now operates as a hotel. It no longer houses students.

Trivia
  • St Leonard's Hall was a school for girls until World War Two, and was called St Trinnean's. It is reputed to be the inspiration for the St Trinian's School in the novels of Ronald Searle

Building Activity

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