From Loch to Park

From Loch to Park – a celebration of 300 years of Edinburgh Meadows

Did you know that the Edinburgh Meadows was once a big lake on the outskirts of Edinburgh? This park has so much history and even after it was drained there were several attempts to build big structures on it, so it is very special that it remained the beautiful big green space that it is today. There was actually a huge exhibition hall built on it in 1886, but it had to be taken down again, as an 1827 Act of Parliament protected the Meadows from that point on. They also tried to build a road through it and even the Usher Hall was proposed to be built on the Meadows.

What happened to create this park, since the whole area was covered in water? It was Sir Thomas Hope, a Scottish politician and agricultural reformer, who landscaped the area into a park. I found out about all this after visiting the Edinburgh College of Art degree show where I chanced upon a little book about the Meadows by Marc Gosteli. I learnt that the loch that covered that whole area was drained in 1722. This made me realise this year’s special anniversary. It took longer than that of course, over 200 years in fact, and several unsuccessful attempts, until they managed to drain all of it. However, 1722 was a significant year when Sir Thomas Hope turned the marshy land into ‘The Meadows or Hope Park’.

So I decided to celebrate this special anniversary with an exhibition. The photographs aim to show the beauty of this gorgeous park and with some added history I hope that everyone can learn more about our lovely big green space right in the middle of Edinburgh.

The Meadows are very important to this city. All are welcome to use it. Young and old, rich and poor, it doesn’t matter when it comes to enjoying a day in the park. Buskers like me play our music in the Meadows, big groups of friends have the space to hang out together, there is golf and tennis and hundreds of people are going for a run there every day.

In spring the cherry blossoms are just mind-blowingly beautiful. And Arthur’s Seat and the Crags nearby offer a magnificent view from this lovely park. As a photographer I have taken thousands of photographs over the years, and have now selected a few for a Meadows calendar, which accompanies the jubilee exhibition at Whitespace Gallery in Newington.

I hope everybody will join me in the celebration of this splendid spot of nature, a beautiful communal space that is completely free and equal in its use for all.


300 Years of Meadows – Photographic Exhibition by Vroni Holzmann
20 – 23 December 2022
Whitespace Gallery, Newington, 76 East Crosscausewayside, Edinburgh EH8 9HQ
20 Dec 2022, 6-9pm – Opening Night with wine and biscuits
21 Dec 2022, 7-9pm – Pecha Kucha Event, a series of short talks relating to the Meadows
Exhibition Opening Hours: 21 to 23 December 2022, 12 – 8pm
*Exhibition and events are free*

Vroni Holzmann (MMus, BA Hons) is a photographer, composer, streetpianist, poet and cartoonist

Meadows Calendar 2023 available at

More information about the 300 Years of Meadows Exhibition at VisitScotland:

Comments (4)

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  1. dave. says:

    Well, I’m frae Auld Reekie and a’h didnae ken the Meadow wis drained.
    Thanks a lot Vroni.

    1. Alasdair Angus Macdonald says:

      Scotland’s own Las Vegas!!

      1. dave. says:

        Hullo Alasdair. Well, the Palais de Dance is closed ( Sean Connery was a bouncer there before James Bond fame) and I’m not sure if the Silver Wing pub in Sighthill is still in business or the Mimosa Cafe on Gorgie Road. With a few ‘adjustments’ we might be able to come close to Las Vegas. LOL.

  2. SleepingDog says:

    What animals use the Meadows? I having just been reading about how the Magpie was considered a cherry thief and widely persecuted by (amongst others) gamekeepers as a nest predator. Perhaps there will come a day when the words “All are welcome to use it” will in common understanding encompass all non-humans too. Still, I was cheered by the first picture on the Exhibition site being of a squirrel. I suppose changing the habitat from loch to marsh to meadows creates winners as well as losers, niche-wise.

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