The end of New Town eras
Two moves took place amongst long-established Edinburgh solicitors’ firms at the beginning of September 2008 which in different ways brought eras of well over 100 years to an end.
First, Skene Edwards WS was subsumed into the much larger Morton Fraser LLP (currently based in Queen Street, but soon to move to the Quartermile development at the old Edinburgh Royal Infirmary site). This meant the closure of Skene Edwards’ office at 5 Albyn Place, where the firm had been since around 1888. As Skene Edwards & Garson WS it had moved there from Hill Street, where it had been founded as Skene Bilton in 1858. 5 Albyn Place now has a sign outside the front door that tells the mournful tale.
Second, Murray Beith Murray left its offices at 39-43 Castle Street. The firm (then only Murray Beith) had moved to 43 Castle Street around 1861, having previously been across the road at No 50; after 1861 it then expanded up the hill towards George Street to take in Nos 41 and 39 (the former home of Sir Walter Scott). Scots Law News was alerted to the change by the removal from the Castle Street façade of the hanging floral baskets which brightened up an otherwise austere New Town scene.
The story of Murray Beith & Murray is not quite as terminal as that of Skene Edwards, since the firm continues in business at a New Town address, namely 3 Glenfinlas Street (just off Charlotte Square, for readers relatively unfamiliar with Edinburgh). There is also a vestigial trace of the firm in Castle Street still, albeit on the Princes rather than the George Street side: No 7 (a very modern office building) is the home of MBM Commercial, which began in 2005 as an internal buy-out of the commercial practice at Murray Beith Murray.