Reading about the history of one of the world's great hotels
is always fascinating. Here is the history of the world famous North British, now the
Balmoral Hotel, in Edinburgh kindly provided
by the Balmoral Hotel.
Old habits die hard. as the 1990's opened the Edinburgh
Balmoral emerged from the scaffolding chrysalis which wrapped up the North British, but
will be a long time before local people forget to call it the "NB".
The harsh fact is that the new name was not chosen for the
sake of local people any more than the old one was. Thousands of visitors arriving in
Edinburgh from all over the world will not think twice about it: they are looking for
somewhere comfortable and recognisably Scottish right in the centre of the capital city.
The new name marked a change of identity and, with a fascinating twist of fate, the ten
story building at the east end of Princess Street once more became the flagship of a
growing business empire. The hotel reopened with a pioneering spirit which echoed the
original opening of the North British almost 90 years ago. Then it was a curiously low-key
affair. On Wednesday 15 October 1902 a small advertisement appeared on the front page of
"North British Station Hotel
This hotel in direct communication with Waverley Station is now open
F.T. Burcher, hotel manager"
That was all. On the Edinburgh Stock Market
North British Railway shares dropped 1s 3d and two days later rose by 17s 6d. Otherwise
the city does not seem to have paid undue attention to its precocious new landmark, the
only residential building ever erected on the south side of Princes Street. The Lord
Provost's Committee had even turned down the architect's request for a marquee in front of
the entrance hall.
But that hardly mattered. The opening of the
hotel was advertised not only in the Scotsman but in newspapers and journals across Europe
and beyond. The North British Hotel was a vanguard for the railway company which built it,
a surrogate for the grand station they had never been permitted to erect in the sensitive
site between the Old and New Town. The name itself symbolises such driving ambition.