These astonishing photos of Edinburgh were taken in the middle of the 19th century

They are among the most incredible and historically important images of Edinburgh ever captured – and they were saved from almost certain destruction 70 years ago.

Horse and cart trundles up towards Bowhead House and the Lawnmarket in the Old Town.

Pioneering photographer Thomas Vernon Begbie produced more than 400 glass plate negatives of the Capital from the late 1850s onwards when photography was still in its infancy.

The astonishing collection, which includes a large variety of stereo views taken all over the city, was discovered in a house in St James’ Square in 1950, where Begbie was born 110 years earlier. Had Begbie’s cache of images not been uncovered, they would've likely been destroyed a decade later when three sides of St James’ Square were demolished.

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Begbie’s images were later gifted to the City of Edinburgh by Stanley Cavaye and the collection of glass negatives are currently held at the City Art Centre.

The Water of Leith at Dean Village.

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Leith Shore showing the Signal Tower at the corner of Tower Street.
Howe Street looking towards St Stephen Church in the New Town.
Calton Jail at Regent Road and showing the Dugald Stewart Monument on Calton Hill.
Shakespeare Theatre at Waterloo Place. Now the site of the former General Post Office.
View of Waverley Bridge looking towards Princes Street and showing construction works for Cockburn Street in foreground.
View of the Scott Monument and Princes Street from Edinburgh's Old Town.
A stagecoach waiting on Princes Street. The newly-built Life of Association head office (since demolished) can be seen in the background.
The top of Victoria Street looking east from Victoria Terrace.
Waverley Bridge showing Edinburgh's Old Town and Cockburn Street under construction.
View looking southeast towards Waverley Station and North Bridge from the Scott Monument.
A horse and cart trundles towards Bowhead House and the Lawnmarket in the Old Town.
Canongate showing Canongate Tolbooth.
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