New colour palette unveiled for the Ross Fountain

By 20th March 2018Ross Fountain

The restoration of the Ross Fountain has reached another exciting milestone with the buttresses and low parts of the fountain being returned to the site within West Princes Street Gardens, showcasing the new French colour palette.

David Ellis, Managing Director of the Trust, said: “The colour was always going to be a talking point and it is fantastic that so many people are already talking about it!  We made a decision early on to restore it as closely as possible to its inception and based on our research of other French fountains, our colours compare very favourably to that original palette.”

Councillor Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities Convenor for the City of Edinburgh Council, added: “As the city’s biggest and certainly most beautiful fountain, this restoration has been a major undertaking.  Each piece has been carefully conserved to bring the fountain back to its former glory and it is now well on its way to being reinstated. The Ross Fountain really is one of the most recognisable features of the Gardens and already you can see the restored structure is going to look fantastic.  We’re very thankful to the Ross Development Trust for all their support.”

Edinburgh World Heritage has provided a significant grant towards the removal, repair, restoration and reinstatement of the Ross Fountain.  Fiona MacDonald, Conservation Architect at Edinburgh World Heritage, said: “Princes Street Gardens serves as an important link between the Old Town and the New Town within Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site.  Ensuring the Ross Fountain is expertly conserved using the proper materials is essential to this project.  Having helped to fund numerous monuments and sculptures across the city, we are happy to support the work taking place here and look forward to seeing the fountain rightfully restored, taking pride of place once again in Princes Street Gardens.  This unique, ornamental cast-iron fountain was gifted to the city and remains a much-loved landmark.”

Referring to the new colour scheme, Jim Mitchell, restoration project manager, said: “Research has eliminated any real clues to the original but we believe it had originally undergone a process called bronzing.  It is now accepted that this mix of linseed oil and bronze powders was short-lived; first tarnishing then failing, leaving a dark rust-coloured finish; more by default than design.  However, in homage to that bronze finish, we have aimed to create a verdigris bronze effect, in the French style of the time, when there was a transition from bronze to cast-iron public monuments. This effect was first used on a number of French fountains, which have recently been restored in the same manner.

Our fountain uses a colour that suggests the subtle verdigris effect of bronze; less green than copper the detailing suggests the “polished” effect on worn surfaces.  The gold detailing pays homage to the colour the fountain took on in recent years and the brown on the skin tones and the other animal-like parts suggests newly patinated parts, treated traditionally with liver of sulphur.”

The renovation work – commissioned by the Trust and supported by Edinburgh World Heritage – started in July 2017 and is being undertaken by Wigan-based specialists, Lost Art.  The fountain will be completely refurbished and returned to its old location by early summer when it will be in pristine, working condition and capable of withstanding the Scottish climate long into the future.