Thomson’s Tower is an octagonal curling house by W H Playfair, built for the Duddingston Curling Society in 1825. It is located on the north side of Duddingston Loch to the south-east of Edinburgh, within the garden run by the Dr Neil’s Garden Trust, which occupies the sloping ground between the kirkyard and the loch.
The accommodation consisted of two chambers, one above the other, with no internal connection. The entrance to the upper chamber is approached from the north by a short flight of steps, built against the wall. The entrance to the lower chamber is approached from the west and is only a foot or two above the water - or ice level - of the loch.
The first floor chamber was originally used for meetings of the Society, and then used as a painting studio by the Rev Thomson whose name it now bears. The ground floor chamber was used to store curling stones and outdoor equipment.
The tower was listed category B in 1970 when it was noted to be derelict. Work was carried out around 1978 to replace the roof and make the building wind and watertight. The new felted flat roof subsequently failed and water again penetrated the building.
In 2004 Simpson & Brown carried out a feasibility study for Dr Neil’s Garden Trust, funded by the National Trust for Scotland, concluding that the building could be brought back in to use by creating a Museum of Curling in the lower chamber and a reception room / interpretation facility for the Dr Neil’s Garden Trust in the upper chamber.
Funded by Historic Scotland, The Heritage Lottery Fund, The National Trust for Scotland and the Dr Neil’s Garden Trust, construction work started in May 2008. A new lead roof and intermediate floor was installed and internal finishes were reinstated. The building re-opened to the public in June 2009.
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