Origin of Name: Crossroads with a Toll but doesn't refer to the crossroads we know today – most likely Main Point at West Port.
Position: West End to north west, Old Town to north east, Southside to east, Bruntsfield to south,Merchiston & Dalry to west
Historical Notes: Today's Tollcross covers the area from Castle Terrace to the King's Theatre and Fountainbridge to Lauriston Place. In the reign of King David I (1124-1153) the northern parts of today's Tollcross were part of the Royal Orchards which over time were leased to private gardeners and known as the Lands of Orchardfield. Bread Street was originally called Orchardfield when built in the early 19th century. The first mention of Tollcross was in a document dated 1439 but this would probably refer just to the West Port area. There were also Lands of High Riggs (bordered by The Meadows, West Port, modern day Tollcross and Potterow), Lands of Drumdryan (around Leven Street to The Meadows), Lands of Pocketslieve (around Castle Terrace) and a small part of the Lands of Dalry. The area was largely rural with a few country houses, the exception being Wester Portsburgh (between The Vennel and Main Point which had been a burgh since 1160).
During the early 19th century the population increased dramatically with new industries such as the canal works, increased road links (Lothian Road built 1780s) and it's proximity to the Old Town. New streets and housing were built and Tollcross began to resemble the area we know today. There were 2 canal basins – Port Hopetoun (opposite the entrance to the current basin) and Port Hamilton (where Lothian House and the Odeon cinema are now). Both closed in 1922.
Entertainment was and still is an important part of Tollcross with theatres such as the Kings Theatre (1906) , the Usher Hall (1914) and the Lyceum (1883) as well as many that no longer exist. Everything from rollerskating at Fountainbridge in 1880 to dancing, billiards and pubs and restaurants have been here since the influx of people began.
Today: A vibrant central part of the city with housing consisting solely of flats. It's one of the city's main entertainment hubs with a huge selection of bars and restaurants, clubs, theatres, cinemas and adult venues. There are also many shops including independently owned businesses. A great area with something for everyone.
Did you know: Fountainbridge is a street not an area as such and it is believed to have been named by the Brand family who owned Dalry House around 1735. There was a bridge across the foul Dalry burn near the southern entrance to Dalry estate which was known as the foul bridge. They had the name changed to Fountainbridge to make it sound more attractive. Alternatively it was named after a fountain that stood nearby. There was an iron drawbridge constructed in the early 1800s to take the canal under Fountainbridge (just west of the old Palais dance hall). It was removed in 1920 but can still be seen over the canal at the end of Leamington Road.
On the Lands of High Riggs at today's Lauriston Place there were many mansions built in the 18th century. Only one still stands - built in 1770 by William Borthwick of Crookston. It is now occupied by St Catherines convent.
The Royal Infirmary started life in 1729 at a site on Robertson's Close. In 1741 it moved to High School Yards then in 1879 it opened at Lauriston Place until moving to Little France in 2003. The buildings are being transformed into flats, offices and leisure under the name Quartermile as it lies a quarter of a mile from the castle.
Links: Tollcross Community Council - http://cc.tollcross.org/