Prestige property: A historic one-time hospital building in Edinburgh's Southside

The resplendent red sandstone Victorian house at 2 Littlejohn Road in Edinburgh’s Southside has a very interesting history.

2 Littlejohn Road, Edinburgh

It was built as part of The City Hospital between 1897 and 1903 and designed by City Architect Robert Morham, who was responsible for the layout of Princes Street Gardens.

The hospital, which treated infectious diseases, was designed with large floor-to-ceiling south-facing windows because of the prevailing belief that fresh air and sunshine could cure most ills.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Number 2 was actually built for the hospital commissionaire. He oversaw the whole institution so it is a large and impressive building in a commanding, raised position.

2 Littlejohn Road, Edinburgh

When the hospital was decommissioned in the late-1990s, it was bought by Cala Homes, and a seven-year programme of converting all the properties, now known as Greenbank Village, to residential use was undertaken.

As part of the process, the commissionaire’s house was split into two apartments horizontally, which were then sold separately.

They were in private ownership when Betsy Williamson, who lived locally, learned that one was about to come onto the market in 2015.

She recalls: “I knew the building and had admired it many times, so I approached the owner of the bottom flat privately and they mentioned that their upstairs neighbour was also considering a move. I spoke to them too and agreed an off-market purchase of the two halves, because I was seeking a large detached property.”

2 Littlejohn Road, Edinburgh

“I wanted to reinstate it as a family home and really felt it deserved love and attention. But the project eventually took three years, so it was definitely a labour of love.”

Betsy is the managing director of a recruitment firm, and a single mum to Evie, 11, and Ollie, who is nine – so a busy working parent who obviously likes a challenge.

She says: “We stayed in the house for the whole time of the work, which involved taking down stud walls to reveal the original staircase, and structural work to put in doors, as well as reconfiguring kitchens and bathrooms and putting two heating systems back to one. Staying put throughout with two small children is not something I’d recommend.”

However, Betsy goes on to add that the 12 months living in the property before the work commenced proved to be an advantage. She explains: “It took that time for me to understand and design the best layout. Flow is important, so putting the kitchen facing the garden made sense so I could watch the kids playing outside.”

2 Littlejohn Road, Edinburgh

The drawing room and lounge, and part of the open-plan kitchen were placed on the south side of the building for maximum sun and the two bedrooms on the quieter top floor are designated as an office space, but double as a guest suite.

She says: “I don’t think I followed the rules of a Victorian building, but I have made it better for modern family life.”

Betsy’s endeavours mean that the reunited house has now truly become a luxury property, with state-of-the-art interiors, incorporating bifold doors, chic bathrooms, a glorious master bedroom and many other attractive features, such as a walk-in wine cellar and large fitted pantry.

In addition, the garden was landscaped and saw 150 tons of soil level off the previously sloping site.

2 Littlejohn Road, Edinburgh

The exterior project was completed by the award-winning James Hutchison Garden Design firm, and has a Japanese theme, with acers, bamboo, magnolia and bonsai trees, and yew hedging.

Betsy says: “The garden took six months, but it is one of the nicest features and links really well to the house. There is a hot tub, a play area, a full wraparound double garage and a garden room.”

2 Littlejohn Road, Edinburgh, is priced at offers over £1.65m.

For more information, contact Rettie & Co. on 0131-624 9068.

2 Littlejohn Road, Edinburgh
2 Littlejohn Road, Edinburgh