Edinburgh University Library foundations, 1965

The University Main Library is today in the middle of a major refurbishment, the first comprehensive work done to the building since it was built. Now an A-listed building, its origins were firmly rooted in the campus redevelopments of the late 1950s-1960s.

This photograph shows a scene that is very much a turning point in the University’s history. Cowan House and Masson Hall, which were student residences located in George Square have been demolished to make way for the University’s new Library building, the foundations of which have been constructed.

The building site for the Library and the adjacent Adam Ferguson Building are cordoned off, and various cranes and workmen can be seen progressing the construction work. A solitary vehicle on the south side of the square, the David Hume Tower and the tenement buildings on Buccleuch Place can also be seen.

The redevelopment of George Square to house the expanding accommodation needs of the University was controversial and the original plan was never fully realised, explaining the present mix of Georgian terraced houses and 1960s buildings.

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