Origin of Name: Anglian with a personal British name Merchiaun and tun meaning a farm place.
Position: Dalry & Gorgie to the north, Craiglockhart & Hutchison/Chesser to the west, Morningside to the south and Tollcross & Bruntsfield to the east. See map above.
Historical Notes: First mentioned in 1266 when the privately owned estate stood next to the Burgh Muir and by 1337 it was divided into Over and Nether Merchiston. In the 1430s the estate was acquired by the Napier family who became strongly linked with the area and built Merchiston Castle which still stands within the grounds of Napier University at Colinton Road (see Historic Houses). They also reunited both Merchistons by the mid 1400s. Over the centuries there was little in the way of development or even farming. Apart from the Castle there were, by 1856, a few houses with grounds and little else with the exception of Montpelier and the southern end of Viewforth, the area's first streets. North Merchiston house which was built in 1760 on part of the estate acquired by architect John Adam stretched from present day Yeaman Lane to Harrison Road with its entrance at the corner of Fowler Terrace/Dundee Terrace. It was demolished at the end of the 19th century just before the tenements in the area were built. Next door was Bainfield house built in the 1720s by James Bain and it covered what is now Murdoch Terrace to Yeaman Lane. It was demolished in the 1860s. Opposite Viewforth was Fountain House, built in the 1760s and demolished in 1934. By 1870 the large detached houses around Merchiston Crescent/ Avenue and Napier Road were complete and Gibson Terrace and Murdoch Terrace were being built. Next door were Viewforth Works(dealing in vulcanite & celluloid) and The North British Rubber Company built on land previously belonging to Trades Maiden Hospital which in 1817 owned most of East Merchiston. The mansion house Rockville on Napier Road was completed in 1858 by architect James Gowan as his home and was an outstanding mix of Gothic, Chinese and French. Unfortunately it was demolished in1966. Gowan was also responsible for the colony type housing in the Shandon area which were begun in the 1850s as model type working class housing. By 1893 most of South Merchiston was complete as far west as Grays Loan and the north up to Tay Street. Very little of the Polwarth area existed at this time and the “colonies” only went as far as Hollybank Terrace. Both the canal and railways were instrumental in bring industry to the north of Merchiston – the rubber works being a large local employer and Merchiston station was situated just behind Primrose Terrace.
Today: Merchiston covers a large area and south of the canal are mostly large detached Victorian houses, some could be described as mansions. North of the canal there are tenements, mews flats, houses with gardens and quite a few recent built flats. There are also the colony style flats around the Shandon area and a massive house building programme on the site of the former brewery. There are two Harrison Parks beside the canal and a boat stop where rowing boats can be hired. Educationally there is Boroughmuir High School, George Watson's private school and Napier University as well as some other private and primary schools. There are a few local shops and a large entertainment complex on Dundee Street with cinema, casino, bowling, fitness centre, bar and eating places.
Did You Know: Dundee Street has had a variety of names along at least part of its length. It was called Viewforth Park in 1870 and Whitebank in part in 1888. before building took place it was referred to as the Road from Slateford. Fountainbridge has begun anywhere from Murdoch Terrace to Gilmore Park over the years.
In the 21st century Merchiston has been dubbed Edinburgh's literary quarter as many famous writers live or have recently lived in the area. JK Rowling and Ian Rankin are two of the most famous.
Ettrick Road has been named Scotland's 2nd most expensive street to buy a house.