History of
the Cockburn

The Cockburn Association was officially formed on 15 June 1875 at a public meeting addressed by Lord Moncrief of Tullibole.  The first major campaign by the Association was to resist the removal of trees at Bruntsfield Links.  The Cockburn has campaigned for the retention and improvement of Edinburgh’s open and green spaces ever since.  Many of the Association’s campaigns have required considerable patience and determination. In 1877 the Association campaigned to bring land along the Water of Leith into public use and some 98 years later we saw success with the opening of the Water of Leith Walkway.  The Association was also instrumental in opposing some of the damaging plans for inner city highways and Edinburgh, as a result, has been left unsullied by inner city motorways.

Case Studies

Accounts from our extensive archives about some of our most notable campaigning activities to protect, preserving and promoting Edinburgh’s built heritage, natural environment and civic amenity

Edinburgh Bibliography

A selection of digital resources, freely available online on a variety of third-party websites


Discover more about some of the Association’s campaigning activities over the last 150 years in this interactive timeline

Biography of Henry Cockburn

Find out more about the remarkable judge, author and revolutionary conservationist who inspired a group of Edinburgh citizens to establish the Cockburn Association in 1875

Historic Cockburn Association Office Bearers

A roll of the remarkable women and men who have been members of the Cockburn Council since 1875

History Blogs

A growing selection of engaging writing from the Cockburn’s office team, its Trustees and occasional guest authors relating to the history of the Association, its members and activities, and about the city of Edinburgh itself


An online library of PDFs scanned and uploaded from our extensive collection of Cockburn Association documents publicly or privately published over the last century and a half

Help us to protect and enhance Edinburgh

We are an independent voice – taking no local or national government funding for our core work. We depend entirely on the support of individuals, local groups and businesses to continue our work to protect and enhance Edinburgh.