Remembering Patrick Simpson CA
POSTED ON October 6, 2022 BY James Garry
Patrick loved this city, and was much involved in protecting it, through the Cockburn
Association and the Edinburgh New Town Conservation Committee.
Patrick Simpson CA
Member of Cockburn Council 1959-1990
Member of Cockburn Conservation Trust 1975 – 1990
Patrick Simpson was a long-standing member of the Cockburn Association. He served on its
governing Council for over 30 years, at a time when the city was experiencing some its great
pressures from post-war development. He held the post of Vice-Chair for a sizable portion of his
time and was Convenor of the Town Planning Committee in the 1970s. In 1978, he became a
founder member of the Cockburn Conservation Trust, set up by the Association as a revolving fund
building preservation trust tasked to restore forgotten and unloved parts of Edinburgh’s heritage,
including the historic row of buildings in Candlemaker’s Row, properties on Calton Hill in the old
village of Calton and Glanville Terrace in Stockbridge.
Mr Simpson joined the Association at a time of its most immediate peril. Together with Chairman
Lord ‘Jock ’Cameron and Secretary Peter Miller (who were elected to Cockburn Council in 1955), he
helped to reinvigorate the Association during the period of radical planning reforms which have
changed the face of the city forever.
– Terry Levinthal, Director
Patrick Simpson –
An appreciation by Oliver Barratt (secretary of the Cockburn Association 1971 – 1992)
“Patrick loved this city, and was much involved in protecting it, through the Cockburn
Association and the Edinburgh New Town Conservation Committee. He was a
member of the Cockburn Council when I was appointed secretary in 1971, and was
always kind and supportive to me as a novice, with fire in my belly for the protection
of the city, but no experience whatever in secretarial matters. He did, however, try to
subdue the fire, by telling me that secretaries did not have opinions.
The big issue at the time was the proposed Inner Ring Road, to slice through
the Canongate, the Meadows, Tollcross, Donaldson’s policies, along the water of
Leith, and the end of Warriston Crescent . The Association led the opposition to this
destructive scheme, but a new one soon emerged called the Intermediate Circular
Route, above the railway through Morningside and using the widened route of the
northern suburban line. This scheme generated a new wave of opposition from
these suburbs, but some in the city centre, including Patrick, tended to support it.
Urban ring-roads were very fashionable at the time; look at Glasgow.
There were heated debates at the Cockburn council, so a members’ meeting
was called, with resounding opposition conveyed to the City Fathers.
Despite his earlier views, Patrick accepted the will of our members, was reconciled to the city by-
pass, and eventually the trams.
Then in the early eighties, Lothian Regional Council decided to build a near
motorway from the M8 to Lothian Road – the Western Relief Road – a scheme which
was promoted by parliamentary legislation. The Edinburgh Western Relief Road Act
was passed just in time for a regional election, and change of party to one which met
over the weekend to cancel the contract and remove the bulldozers which were
waiting on site; a very near miss.
Of course, there were many other issues with which the Cockburn became
involved; one of which was a scheme by the Scottish Development Department in
1986 to carry out some supposed improvements to Edinburgh Castle, including a
subterranean lecture hall under the Esplanade so as to subject visitors to “education”
before they entered the Castle by a new underground entrance; so denying them the
drama of entering through the main gate. Patrick was one of our council members
who doubted the wisdom of this proposal and, in due course, the SDD were
persuaded to think again. The new north vehicular entrance was one result, freeing
the main gate for visitors.
But opposing damaging schemes can be depressing work, and when the
Edinburgh New Town Conservation Committee was established in 19 71 Patrick
was delighted to be appointed the Cockburn representative, and thus begin a major
and very successful scheme for helping building owners to repair their properties in a
co-ordinated manner and to high specification. His knowledge of the New Town, its
buildings and its people, as well as his accountant’s realistic approach to costs, was
In 1978, the Cockburn Conservation Trust was founded, to add practical
example to the Association’s voice. Patrick was a natural choice as on the trustees,
and a positive participant in deliberations about projects; starting with repairing
unused buildings in Candlemaker Row, and then the last surviving house in Calton
Hill above the new Leith Walk roundabout. On completion it was declared a listed
building by the Secretary of State.
Patrick’s participation in building preservation trusts was extended when the
Lothian Building Preservation Trust was set up with Frank Tindall as director. The
first modest project was saving Broxmouth South Lodge; soon followed by the
ambitious scheme to rebuild Bankton House, within its surviving shell. Both these
buildings were dear to Patrick as they are on his route to his cottage at Coldingham.
I was asked to talk about Patrick in relation to his conservation works. I am
sure I have omitted others, but from what I have said you can appreciate his great
part in leaving the world a better place than he found it. Well done, good and faithful
Peacefully, at home on Tuesday June 28th 2022. Patrick, much loved
husband of Henrietta and the late Elizabeth, father of Margaret and Robert, grandfather and great-