The Hub, at the top of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, is the home of the Edinburgh International Festival, and a central source of information on all the Edinburgh Festivals. Its gothic spire – the highest point in central Edinburgh – towers over the surrounding buildings, including the adjacent castle. The building was designed in collaboration by Edinburgh architect J Gillespie Graham, and the famous gothic revivalist Augustus Pugin, and constructed between 1842 and 1845.
The inside houses the Hub Cafe; Hub Tickets, the central box office for the International Festival, which also sells tickets for a wide range of other events; a Main Hall with a capacity of 420, used as a venue for concerts and so on; and two smaller venues, the Glass Room and the Dunard Library, suitable for smaller events.
Prior to the completion of the new Scottish Parliament Building at Holyrood in 2004, the Hub was occasionally used for meetings of the Scottish Parliament when the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly Hall was unavailable. The Parliament returned to the Hub for two weeks following the collapse of a beam in its debating chamber on 2 March 2006.
What is now “The Hub” was built for the Church of Scotland both as a parish church and as a purpose-build General Assembly Hall. It was originally known as the Victoria Hall which became the Highland Tolbooth St John’s Church.
The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland last met here in 1929, when the Church of Scotland united with the United Free Church of Scotland, thereafter using the former United Free Church’s Assembly Hall on The Mound (and continuing to this day.)
In 1979 the Highland Tolbooth St John’s Church building was closed, the congregation uniting with the nearby Greyfriars Kirk. The congregation had been notable for its services in Gaelic as well as English. The building was then virtually unused until becoming “The Hub”.
According to an employee at the “Camera Obscura”, there is a true story of a student who climbed the Hub and placed a traffic cone on the very top. According to the account, it took police, with the assistance of professional climbers, 3 days to get the cone back down!
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