MEET THE ALBANY STREET EXPERT

There’s been a very appreciative response to articles in the last two months’ printed Spurtles about the history of houses on Albany Street. So much so, in fact, that we thought readers might be interested to learn more about their author. 

Barclay Price has lived in Albany Street for 20 years, having previously lived in London where he worked as a senior Arts administrator.     

On his return to Scotland, he worked as Depute Director of the Scottish Arts Council and then as Chief Executive of Arts & Business Scotland, an organisation that works to encourage business engagement with, and support for, the cultural sector.

Following his semi-retirement four years ago, he decided to find out who had lived in his house, built in 1802, as visiting friends kept asking.

Intrigued by what he found, Price continued his research to include all Albany Street’s houses, and has now traced over 650 families and individuals who lived there during the nineteenth century. This material can be found in its entirety on his substantial website here

It’s a fascinating, rich and extremely readable archive where you’ll find beguiling accounts of a world-first in medicine and the founding of chartered accountancy; notorious forgeries and remarkable memoirs; Scottish Home Rule and Scotland Yard; compassionate doctors and dispassionate administrators; heroic feats on the battlefield and on the golf course; shrewd lawyers and imprudent advocates; victorious archers and illustrious actors; tales of emus and of terriers; fortunes made and money embezzled; civil engineers and uncivil acts; proof the Earth is flat and evidence of its great age; a miraculous birth and a child prodigy; unrequited love and romantic elopement; affectionate marriage and bitter divorce; untimely deaths and distinguished funerals.

Price also has a website covering twentieth-century residents, though that is less complete for many properties and mostly ends around the 1960s. Interestingly, by the 1950s, only about eight of the street’s 57 houses were residential; a trend which has noticeably reversed in recent years.

Remarkably, thanks to Google and the digitisation of so much material, almost all Price’s research was done on his home computer. He has created a third website – A guide to researching residents of Edinburgh's New Town properties – to help others trace past residents in this part of the city.

Now that the Albany Street project is finished, Price has become a voluntary ‘house detective’ for Edinburgh World Heritage, producing historical snippets for its Facebook pages. He’s also just completing a significant piece of research into a Chinese man resident in Edinburgh from around 1778.

Given that this remarkable but previously overlooked individual was the first Chinese to become a permanent resident anywhere in Britain (and, probably, the first to be baptised into the Protestant religion), the work is of significant interest and Price is already in contact with publishers.

We’ll bring you more of his curious and illuminating insights in 2018. 

Albany Street
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