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Fit for a king

As part of our regular Landmark feature in Edit magazine, we ask for your memories of a notable Edinburgh location. The next edition features King’s Buildings campus, the home of Science and Engineering.

King’s Buildings

In 1919 the area known as West Mains Farm was purchased by the University for the relocation and expansion of its science departments. In July 1920, His Majesty King George V laid the foundation stone for the first building; the Department of Chemistry, and so began the life of King's Buildings.

The first classes were held in October 1922 and it was officially opened by HRH the Prince of Wales in December 1924.

A legacy of war

Not all departments were lucky enough to find themselves housed in new buildings. Geology initially moved from Old College into wooden huts that had previously provided wartime accommodation for US soldiers in St. Andrew Square. These same huts, after being vacated by Geology in 1931, were then put into use as the first King’s Buildings Union before the custom-made building was completed in 1939.

Philanthropic legacy

In 1921 the University launched an appeal for the erection of classrooms and laboratories on the site and many of the iconic buildings that are still used today came into being because of generous benefactors.

The Zoology building was partial funded by a donation of £20,000 from Laurence Pullar, Engineering benefited from £50,000 from James Sanderson and Geology received a donation of £50,000 from Sir Alexander Grant.

I trust that in a Country and in a City where the value of education is thoroughly realised you will find generous donors able and willing to complete the plans which you have sketched with such a bold hand.

King George VFrom Science at the University of Edinburgh by Ronald M Birse

On the roof

Many of the University’s most famous graduates spent time studying at King’s Building campus including Olympic 400m gold medallist Eric Liddell, who was rumoured to have trained on the roof of the Joseph Black Building, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1924.

Darwin development

Now home to 37 buildings including the Noreen and Kenneth Murray Library, which opened in July 2012, the campus continues to expand, with the construction of new buildings and refurbishment of old ones.

The next stage in the evolution of the campus is the redevelop of parts of the School of Biological Science including the refurbishment and re-cladding of the Darwin Tower. For more information please visit the Campus Developments area of the College of Science & Engineering website.

King's Buildings campus developments

Your memories

We would love to hear about your memories of King’s Buildings campus whether academic, social or simply memorable. Please send us them by email using the address below. Alternatively you can join in the discussion that is currently taking place in our LinkedIn group.

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