The Duncan Street Explorer

North elevation of 12 Duncan Street

Welcome to Duncan Street, home to the Bartholomew mapmaking firm. Go inside to explore.
Click the thumbnails below for more about the building.

Photo of Duncan Street building

Black and white photograph of the front elevation of Duncan Street

The history of the firm of John Bartholomew & Son Ltd stretches back almost 200 years. Six generations of the Bartholomew family took over the business, each one expanding it in turn.

As a result, the business moved a lot — in just over 100 years, Bartholomew occupied no fewer than 11 premises in Edinburgh. From 1911 to 1995, John Bartholomew and Son operated from arguably its most impressive building, on Duncan Street, in the Newington area of Edinburgh.

More about Duncan Street

Coloured sketch of proposed Grange Loan building

Sketch of proposed Grange Loan building

John George Bartholomew's sketch showing an early design for Bartholomew's new building, to succeed their premises at Park Road.

More about Grange Loan

Newspaper notice about land for sale in Duncan Street

The sale of the Duncan Street plot

A newspaper cutting advertising the sale of the Duncan Street site in 1908.

Records reveal that Bartholomew bought the site in 1909, causing us to speculate that it did not sell at this auction. Bartholomew eventually bought the Duncan Street site for £2,000, which would be about £170,000 today.

Transcript of land sale news cutting

More about the plot of land in Duncan Street

Photo of a building being built

Duncan Street under construction

The construction of Duncan Street began in 1909. This is one of a set of four photographs that shows the building taking shape.

More about Duncan Street construction

Postcard showing Falcon Hall house in grounds

Postcard of Falcon Hall

This postcard is of Falcon Hall, an Edinburgh building with an important part to play in the story of Duncan Street.

More about Falcon Hall

Newspaper article with drawing of the proposed Duncan Street building

The design of Duncan Street

The design and construction of Duncan Street was considered newsworthy at the time, as this newspaper article from 1909 reveals.

It describes the proposed building in glowing terms, as well as referring to the Falcon Hall portico, which remains one of the building's most prominent features.

Transcript of Duncan Street news cutting

Ledger page with handwritten details

Abstract of Duncan Street's building accounts

An abstract of accounts revealing the total building costs of the different elements of Duncan Street.

Among other things, it shows that the plastering cost £548 13s 5d (equivalent to £54,500 today) and that John Gibson and Son built the copperplate safe. By 31 December 1911, the total costs were £14,596 2s 2d, which would be about £million today. (See the Safe Room page for more about the safe.)

Printed notice with image of the Duncan Street building

Notice of removal to Duncan Street

Bartholomew produced this leaflet to advertise their move from Park Road to Duncan Street, in 1911. The front cover, shown here, describes Bartholomew's work in great detail.

The back cover lists the departments of the firm, while inside there is a map of Edinburgh with the location of Duncan Street highlighted.

Transcript and more images of this notice

Engraving of the Duncan Street building

Black and white drawing of Duncan Street

Bartholomew commissioned a number of drawings of Duncan Street. This particular drawing is the one most often linked to the building.

While accurately depicting the building, this image is somewhat misleading. Duncan Street is actually in a residential setting, rather than park land as this drawing suggests.

Typed letter with details of phone installation

Telephone installation estimate

This letter from Glyde Chaffey & Co describes the installation of an internal telephone system at Duncan Street, in 1910. It is just one example of the new technologies the firm had installed at the premises.

Transcript and more images of letter

Photo of 3 men and a van loaded with boxes of atlases

Duncan Street with a consignment of the 'Times atlas'

One of the first consignments of the 'Times survey atlas of the world' ready to leave Duncan Street in 1922.

'The Times comprehensive atlas of the world' (as it is known today) is regarded as one of Bartholomew's greatest contributions to map-making.

More about 'Times atlas' series

Photo of a large group of Edwardian people seated outdoors

Bartholomew's staff outings

This group photograph shows Bartholomew's staff on an outing to Elie, Fife, in 1899.

There was a strong camaraderie among Bartholomew's staff, and the firm provided ample opportunities for socialising outside of work.

More about Bartholomew staff outings

Printed certificate with handwritten details, 1919

Bartholomew's co-partnership scheme

Bartholomew's co-partnership scheme was introduced in 1919, when the firm became a private limited company and capable of issuing shares. The firm changed it name to reflect its new status, becoming John Bartholomew and Son Ltd, replacing its former name, John Bartholomew and Co.

The co-partnership scheme was ahead of its time and recognised the loyalty of staff by offering them a share of the company's profits.

This is one of the certificates issued to a member of Bartholomew's staff.

Brochure cover with photo of front of Duncan Street building

Duncan Street sales brochure

After 84 years at Duncan Street, Bartholomew vacated the premises in 1995. This sales brochure describes the building in great detail.

Initially, the plan was to continue using the site for light industrial purposes. In the end, it was converted into residential accommodation.

  • Thumbnail: Detail from photo of Duncan Street building
  • Thumbnail: Detail from a coloured sketch of a building
  • Thumbnail: Text from a newspaper advert
  • Thumbnail: Photo of a building being built
  • Thumbnail: Photo of a large building set in a garden
  • Thumbnail: Building image from a newspaper
  • Thumbnail: Detail from a ledger page
  • Thumbnail: Text from a printed leaflet
  • Thumbnail: Engraving of the Duncan Street building
  • Thumbnail: Typed letter with details of phone installation
  • Thumbnail: Photo of a men standing at a van
  • Thumbnail: An Edwardian man in a bowler had
  • Thumbnail: Detail from a printed certificate
  • Thumbnail: Brochure cover with photo of a building