Ross Fountain

Recounting Edinburgh’s LGBT History

By | Friends of the gardens, General, Ross Fountain, Sponsors


And as LGBT History Month comes to a close, we’re highlighting Edinburgh’s rich history as the backdrop of LGBT inspiration and strength.

Before Pride Marches began in Scotland in the mid-1990s, Edinburgh was home to several events aimed at strengthening the LGBT community in public standing, respect and the law.

Did you know?  The Scottish Homosexual Action Group (SHAG) hosted Lark in the Park in 1988 in the city’s very own Ross Bandstand at West Princes Street Gardens. The festival comprised music, comedy, and other artistic performances in a time of national uncertainty on the standing of Section 28.

Just seven years later, the first large-scale Pride March in Scotland took place on June 17, 1995, in Edinburgh, with an estimated 3,000 citizens marching. Fast-forward to 2018, with Pride March Edinburgh attendance extending to over 5,000 people!

The first ever LGBT history month in Scotland took place in February of 2005, a culmination of events, education, and community strength establishing itself within the UK after years of activism, setting the stage for many advances in years to follow.

LGBT history is Scotland’s history, with the first evidence of transgendered women living in Scotland dating to the early 1800s. Jump over a century into the future to 1957, and the fight to recognise LGBT individuals takes form as the UK government rejects decriminalisation of male homosexuality.

Skip to the 1970s. Scotland’s first ever gay night takes place at the Cobweb Disco in Edinburgh. 1974, Scotland’s first Gay Centre opens at 60 Broughton St, Edinburgh.

Arrive in 1980, when homosexuality is decriminalized for men over the age of 21. 1989, LGBT Youth Scotland is established in Edinburgh, forever providing a home for Scotland’s LGBT community in need.

In the decades following, Edinburgh, and Scotland at large, has seen the repeal of Section 28, the Gender Recognition Act, same-sex civil partnership, Equality Act of 2010, same-sex marriage, and the recognition of non-binary peoples.

LGBT History Month carries on the legacies of these advancements and keeps conversation moving forwards in terms of equality, respect, and acceptance. March on!


Happy Chinese New Year! 10 Amazing Facts about Edinburgh’s Sister City

By | Friends of the gardens, General, Ross Fountain, Sponsors

Happy Chinese New Year!

Chinese New Year, also known as ‘chunjie’ or the Spring Festival, marks the end of the winter season. After the recent cold weather, we can all look forward to celebrating that! 

Did you know that out of Edinburgh’s ten twin cities, Xi’an, China is the largest? Here are ten facts about our twin city to help you bring in the (Chinese) New Year.

  1. Xi’an is the starting point of the Silk Road, the world-renowned ancient trade route spanning from China all the way to the Mediterranean.
  2. Xi’an has been the capital of 13 Imperial empires under the rule of 70 emperors.  From one capital to another, that’s a lot of emperors. 
  3. Listed as one of four important ancient civilization sites in the world, Xi’an sits next to the likes of Cairo, Rome, and Athens.
  4. The capital of the Shaanxi province, Xi’an is a centre for culture, industry, and education for the central northwest region. But they are possibly known best for their food!
  5. Xi’an is listed as one of China’s most popular tourist destinations and is home to the famous Terracotta Army.
  6. The name Xi’an, as it is written in Chinese, can be translated to ‘Peace in the West’. A beautiful sentiment to share around the world this year of the pig!
  7. Xi’an is one of the few cities in the world that can boast a history of over three millenniums!
  8. Xi’an is home to China’s research and development facilities, national security, and space exploration programme. Not a bad connection to have!
  9. Xi’an is surrounded by a total of 8 rivers, with a landmass of approximately 16,808 km.
  10. Lastly, Xi’an is home to the largest musical fountain in Asia, outside the Xi’an Da Ci’en Temple. Who wouldn’t love a city with a fountain?

Hosting the largest Chinese New Year celebration in Scotland, Edinburgh will be home to the Official Chinese New Year Concert at Usher Hall, the Giant Lanterns of China at the Edinburgh Zoo, and the opening of the East Asia Gallery at the National Museum of Scotland! And if you’re wanting to celebrate with a night out on the town, you can catch some landmark buildings across the capital lit up in red!  

Good luck this year of the pig!

Challenge yourself with these three great fitness routes in Edinburgh’s West Princes Street Gardens

By | Friends of the gardens, General, Ross Fountain, Sponsors

Happy New Year! It’s mid January, and hopefully you’re still doing well with your New Year’s resolutions – and if not, it’s not too late!

If one of your goals for 2019 is to get fit and active, then West Princes Street Gardens is just the place to come – not only is it a gorgeous place to be, with scenic surroundings and world famous views, but with a little imagination it also boasts a great range of options for fitness fans.

Here are three great ways to use the Gardens while you get into shape for 2019.

Keeping it simple

Want to get a bit of exercise without wearing yourself out? Enjoy a calm jog a few times round the Ross Fountain (above), or up and down the flat central path connecting the Fountain to the Ross Bandstand.

  • Simply jog 1 mile, equivalent to 14 times around the Fountain, or 11 times between the Fountain and the Ross Pavilion.

Feel the need for speed

If jogging is a little slow for you,  challenge yourself to get from west to east and back as quickly as possible.

  • Start at the steps at the west end of the Gardens’ upper path and run east until you reach the steps at the other end (above)
  • Take the curving path down behind the Gardener’s Cottage
  • Come back westward along the lower path, passing behind the Ross Bandstand, heading towards the Fountain
  • At the Fountain turn uphill to your right, and then left to arrive back at the foot of the steps again.
  • We make that 1225 yards (or 1.1km) – try to do it in 4 minutes 12 seconds to average 10mph (16kmph), or make it in 2 minutes 48 seconds to average 15mph (24kmph)!

Get the blood pumping!

After a real cardio workout? Make use of some of the Gardens’ hillier parts, including the short steep slopes at the Ross Bandstand, the curving path(above)  behind the Gardener’s Cottage and the steps leading up to the western exit onto Princes Street.

  • Start at the back of the bandstand seating and run up to the upper path and back down on the other side. 10 reps
  • Run to the Gardener’s Cottage and run up and down the curving path at the back. 10 reps
  • Sprint east to west along the upper path until you reach the steps at the west end. Run up and down the steps. 10 reps

Too easy? Do it all again!

And if that all sounds much too energetic to you, why not just grab a coffee, find one of the Gardens’ many benches and simply enjoy watching others giving it a go!

Disclaimer – as with all exercise, always be sure to warm up and hydrate properly and don’t push yourself too hard. 

Main image credit: Ed DunensAttribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) 

Merry Christmas – and what a year it’s been!

By | Friends of the gardens, General, Ross Fountain, Sponsors

Hello and Season’s Greetings from all us here at the Ross Development Trust – we hope you had a very Merry Christmas!

It has been a fantastic year for West Princes Street Gardens and the Trust, and as we approach the New Year we’re taking a look back at some of the great moments from 2018.

During Edinburgh’s seemingly endless summer we had one of the highlights of the year, as we launched the fully restored Ross Fountain after 12 months of hard work. Just a few months later we were delighted to reach another milestone with the official switch-on for the Fountain’s new low energy LED lighting system, bringing a new dimension to this famous Edinburgh landmark.

With inclusiveness one of our core values, we were very pleased to support the City of Edinburgh Council’s public consultation on our plans for the Gardens – thank you again if you took the time to send in your views.

It was also a year of partnerships as we worked closely with the City Council and heritage bodies like the Cockburn Association and Edinburgh World Heritage to achieve a shared vision for the reinvigoration and continual improvement of the Gardens as a world-class city centre green-space, visitor attraction and public amenity.

We’re looking forward to making 2019 even better for the Gardens as we continue with our extensive plans to improve and make them more accessible to all while preserving everything that makes them so special to Edinburgh’s people and visitors. We hope to have more exciting news for you early in 2019!

A huge thank you to everyone who has visited and enjoyed West Princes Street Gardens this year, to everyone who has sent us their views on our work, and in particular to our very generous supporters. Your contribution is vital to continuing our work, and we’re very grateful.

From everyone at the Ross Development Trust, we would like wish you a very Happy New Year!

New Lighting Highlights Ross Fountain Features at Night

By | Ross Fountain

The Ross Fountain in Edinburgh’s West Princes Street Gardens is, for the first time, glistening after dark as the new lighting was switched on today, Thursday 1st November.

The recently restored water feature in West Princes Street Gardens has been fitted with a low energy, state of the art, waterproof LED system integral within the fountain pools which will project ripples as the water is moved by the wind, creating a shimmering effect after dark.

The water supply was temporarily switched off on October 1 to allow the works to take place ahead of today’s switch on.

Water began flowing through the Fountain for the first time since 2010 when restoration works were completed by the Ross Development Trust on 8 July 2018.

The whole conservation project process, which cost around £2m, was completed on schedule following 40,000 working hours to restore it and 650 litres of paint to bring it back to its former glory.

David Ellis, Managing Director of the Ross Development Trust, said:

We are delighted with the new lighting system, the final piece in the restoration of the fountain. This new lighting scheme creates the opportunity for people to enjoy the fountain in a way it has never been experienced before. Through modern, sensitive, lighting techniques the Fountain now comes to life after dark, so it can be enjoyed by all through the winter months.

The new lights will be switched on each evening at dusk and switched off at 11pm, making the fountain visible from The Mound and Princes Street.

We filmed the big switch-on of the restored Ross Fountain

By | Ross Fountain

Watch our beautiful short-film of last month’s official switch-on of the magnificently-restored Ross Fountain. Actor and radio presenter Grant Stott kicked-off the day-long celebration that saw Edinburgh families, residents and visitors turn out in huge numbers on a sunny day to witness the fountain come back to life after a remarkable year-long restoration. We hope this video captures the magic of the day for you to enjoy.

The fully restored Ross Fountain’s big switch-on!

By | Ross Fountain

The Ross Development Trust are delighted to announce that, after a years’ absence from Edinburgh, the fully restored Ross Fountain will be unveiled at a free, non-ticketed event in West Princes Street Gardens on Sunday 8th July. Join us from noon and be part of our family-friendly celebration which includes face-painting, live music, street theatre performers and, of course, the big switch-on at 1pm!

Have your say on the next steps for West Princes Street Gardens including the Ross Bandstand

By | Design Competition, Friends of the gardens, General, Ross Fountain, Ross Pavilion

Views are being sought from the public on the Council and Ross Development Trust’s proposals to enhance West Princes Street Gardens.

An online consultation has opened today (Tuesday 26 June) with the first drop-in session set to take place on Wednesday 18 July at the Assembly Rooms on George Street.

The ‘West Princes Street Gardens Project’ proposes to invest in facilities to provide a cherished space for both residents and visitors. It aims to enhance the experience of users while ensuring the gardens remain a beautiful and accessible asset under public ownership. To date, work has completed on the project’s restoration of the historic Ross Fountain and refurbishment of the Gardener’s Cottage, thanks to donations raised by the charitable Ross Development Trust.

The next phase in the project is consultation to gauge public support of the proposals, which will be fed back within a report to Council.

Over the course of the next 12 weeks, the public will specifically be asked to feedback on what the gardens mean to them, proposed upgrades to infrastructure and new ALEO to look after the area, which would allow the new Ross Bandstand to be run by an arms-length organisation.

Councillor Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “Sitting in the heart of the city, between the Old and New Towns under Edinburgh Castle, West Princes Gardens are a central part of civic life in the city. The gardens are an important public asset for all of Edinburgh to experience and it will remain in public ownership and under Council control, available for everybody to enjoy.

“If approved the ALEO would be established to ensure this remains the case, while allowing the flexibility for the Ross Development Trust and other important stakeholders to raise the required investment for the future pavilion and other key areas of infrastructure. I want to know how these plans sit with the citizens of Edinburgh, what they see as priorities for them and their Gardens and we want people to play a part in this vision.

“Since the Gardens are so central to daily Edinburgh life – it’s where we relax, play, eat and enjoy incredible live events – I’m sure many people will want to have their say and join us on this journey towards revitalising the area.”

David Ellis, Managing Director of The Ross Development Trust, said: “This consultation period allows us a great opportunity to provide people with more detailed information about our work in West Princes St Gardens. Receiving feedback from the public will be extremely beneficial to the project as we continue to move forward.”

Face-to-face meetings will also take place with key stakeholders during the consultation period, which runs until the 14 September 2018.

Return of statue marks the completion of the Ross Fountain renovation

By | Ross Fountain

The statue at the top of the Ross Fountain in West Princes Street Gardens has today (Tuesday 22nd May, 2018) been carefully lowered back into place marking the completion of the £1.9M restoration.

The renovation work commissioned by The Ross Development Trust has been supported by Edinburgh World Heritage and was undertaken in collaboration with the City of Edinburgh Council.  Work started in July 2017 and was undertaken by Wigan-based specialists, Lost Art.

The two tonne statue was returned to its place by a 15m crane in an operation that lasted around an hour.

David Ellis, Managing Director of The Ross Development Trust, said: ‘The view of the Ross Fountain with the castle in the backdrop is without doubt a postcard image of the city.  We therefore prioritised the restoration of this amazing and much-loved monument within the wider revitalisation project.

‘Restoration of a piece such as this requires careful work, Lost Art is to be congratulated on a great job.  It’s wonderful to see the Ross Fountain returned to his former glory.  It will definitely become the backdrop for many photographs of happy moments in the future.’

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: “The Ross Fountain, initially viewed by many as audacious, flamboyant and even scandalous to some 19th-century sensibilities, has over the years become a much-loved landmark, at the heart of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site. The quality of this exquisite French fountain, with its mermaids, cherubs and griffins made its careful conservation all the more important.”

Lord Provost, Frank Ross, said: “It is fantastic to see the statue return.  We are very thankful for the support of the Trust and everyone involved in getting the Fountain to this stage, and I am looking forward marking its full completion later in the summer when the water will be switched back on. It will once again be one of the most recognisable – and stunning – features of Princes Street Gardens.”

The whole conservation project has been completed on schedule.  The next few months will be spent testing the new water-pump system and completing the landscaping work required to fully welcome the fountain back into the gardens. Water will flow through the fountain again during the summer.  The Ross Fountain is now in pristine condition and capable of withstanding the Scottish climate long into the future.

New colour palette unveiled for the Ross Fountain

By | Ross 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.