In the late 18th century, the city of Edinburgh underwent a huge transformation with the arrival of the exquisite New Town. A UNESCO heritage site designed by local architect James Craig, the resulting neoclassical and Georgian period buildings encompass Princes Street, George Street and Queen Street at its heart. Designed to offer wealthier members of the city a chance to escape the ancient, crowded Old Town, our current premises at 87 George Street was completed around the 1780s, conceived initially as a townhouse.
As the power of commerce emerged in the 19th century, most properties between Castle Street and Frederick Street had already been altered to accommodate a retail space at ground floor. Number 87 was no exception and, in 1835, the ground floor was remodeled and extended by David Bryce to create the ornate showroom we know so well.
Over the years, from 1910 to 1993, the front of the shop was modernised to keep up with the changing façade of the ever-evolving George Street. In recent years, as we strive to honour our heritage and protect the integrity of the building, we became dedicated to the careful renovation of our frontage, winding the clock back and restoring the beauty of the original exterior.
Following a year long, extensive refurbishment project, we worked with some of the finest companies in the UK to conserve and sympathetically enhance not only our shopfront, but all five floors of our building including workshops, service area and showroom. With such a challenging project to undertake, founder of award winning design practice Waldo Works Tom Bartlett, Edinburgh based Simpson and Brown, Quantity Surveyors McLeod & Aitken and construction giants SJS dedicated three years of planning to safeguard our premises for the future.
Of most pressing importance was our shop front. Whilst the original 1910 design placed importance on uninterrupted window displays showcasing a variety of jewellery and watches in the best possible light, the heritage and structural protection of our building was at the heart of our renovation project.
The final results are stunning, vertical, security-rated windows supported by a reinforced steel structure, finessed with bespoke bronze cladding work. Look through the contemporary windows and you can enjoy upgraded product display areas; upholstered panels and adjacent walls boast fine silk. Intricately cut marble blocks present products in a beautiful setting illuminated with an upgraded lighting system.
Above our beautifully lit windows is a reimagined fascia featuring signage in gold-gilded recessed lettering, created by masters of their craft Laurence McIntosh. Reading Hamilton & Inches Established 1866, the font is the result of a rebranding project, pulling inspiration from a 1920s receipt that showed the then logo of Hamilton & Inches beautifully. With elements of our past, inspiring our present, the new golden lettering is showcased proudly on a fascia designed to sit harmoniously with the moulded capped cornicing that was previously obscured.
Additional nods to our past have also been carefully considered for our renovated shopfront; a door closely modelled on its 1912 predecessor, Scottish whinstone laid at the entrance (sympathetically selected for its resemblance to the existing pavement) and improved canopy, crafted from high-grade cloth designed to withstand weather exposure.
The result is not only breathtaking but enhances the appearance of the entire building; our beloved, beautiful home.
Our shop front offers a look into the life of Hamilton & Inches. We are a company proud of our past and excited for our future. We believe the restoration of our entire building breathes fresh life into George Street, a street designed so beautifully by James Craig. Working with the finest of craftspeople across the UK, our project has been one of passion, patience and protection and we are delighted to share the results with you now.