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Ross Fountain

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.

Challenge
  • 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.

Challenge
  • 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.

Challenge
  • 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.

Work starts on the return of the Ross Fountain

By | Ross Fountain

The first parts of the renovated Ross Fountain will be returned to the site within West Princes Street Gardens during February, now that the extensive work on the foundations is almost complete.

The much-loved landmark will be completely refurbished and returned to its old location by early summer. The Ross Fountain will be in pristine condition and capable of withstanding the Scottish climate long into the future.

David Ellis, Managing Director of the Ross Development Trust, said: ‘The view of the Ross Fountain with the castle in the backdrop has become a postcard image of the city.  We therefore prioritised the restoration of this amazing and much-loved monument within the wider revitalisation project.’

‘Having successfully dismantled the Fountain piece by piece it was soon apparent that the scale of the damage was beyond what anyone could have predicted. The challenge faced by Lost Art to restore the Fountain was immense. I am delighted to say that they have more than answered that challenge and I am excited to share their work with the people of Edinburgh later this year when the Ross Fountain will be unveiled.

‘Simultaneously to the repair work to the Fountain itself, we have been working to install and repair crucial infrastructure which supports the Fountain to ensure that it remains fully operational in all its glory for generations to come.’

Councillor Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities Convenor for the City of Edinburgh Council, added: ‘The Ross Fountain has sat in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle since the 19thCentury and is one of the most recognisable features of the Gardens.

‘Over the last few months, detailed conservation work has been taking place to restore it to its beautiful, original design. Now, visitors to West Princes Street Gardens will be able to watch as the fountain is rebuilt from the ground up.

‘We are very grateful to The Ross Development Trust for their continued support and look forward to seeing it back in full this summer.”

Jim Mitchell of Industrial Heritage Consulting Ltd, is the Project Conservation Engineer.  He said: ‘The Ross is one of three great A- listed fountains in Scotland and in my view the best, both aesthetically and technically.

‘Dismantling has confirmed that the work has been carried out, not a moment too soon, with many potential failures revealed. The made-up ground in the gardens, much of it removed there to fill the old Nor’ Loch, had allowed significant subsidence and stress- fracturing, all of which has been repaired to a standard that sets a benchmark for ironwork conservation. A sophisticated pumping and filtering system has been installed below ground, with the latest non-chemical water treatment included.

‘A low energy, submerged lighting system will show the fountain at its best, day and night.

‘The fountain has been protected by high tech coatings which at the same time, echoes the style of French ornamental work of the period, which emulated verdigris and patinated bronze. I think the people of Edinburgh and beyond, will be impressed!’

You can also help with the restoration and ongoing maintenance of the Ross Fountain by donating here.

Behind the scenes of the Ross Fountain restoration

By | Ross Fountain

With more than 120 pieces of cast-iron making up the Ross Fountain, the first step in its restoration – the dismantling and removal process – alone was a difficult enough challenge.  But what is involved in actually restoring these pieces to their former glory?  A host of surprises and challenges were uncovered at the workshop and you can hear from the team at Lost Art – the specialist team of craftsmen restoring the Fountain – about repairing such a historic monument,

You can also help with the restoration and ongoing maintenance of the Ross Fountain by donating here.