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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s been four months since the Ross Fountain was dismantled in entirety and transported to our specialist contractor LostArt, where intensive restoration by their expert team continues apace. We’ll soon be able to bring you a fascinating insight of this challenging restoration through film, images and stories; watch for updates in the coming months. Meantime, to remind you of the scale of the operation to dismantle the fountain, which comprises more than 120 individual pieces, here’s complete time-lapse film of the 3-month long project to dismantle and remove our statue from West Princes Street Gardens.
We are currently inviting donations to help fund the vital restoration and maintenance of the Ross Fountain, one of the Garden’s most iconic features. To make a donation please visit our donations page here.
Restoration of the Ross Fountain, an iconic landmark within the city’s West Princes Street Gardens, is now underway.
It’s a huge undertaking. 122 individual cast-iron pieces are being dismantled and removed over the next few weeks for a full restoration that will see the fountain returned and reassembled in full working order in the Gardens next summer. So, as the temporary screening goes up around the fountain site, here are ten fascinating facts about the Ross Fountain:
1. The Fountain was purchased as a gift to the city by Edinburgh gunsmith, Daniel Ross – “with inclination to art and science” – at the Great Exhibition of London in 1862.
2. It was erected in its present position in West Princes Street Gardens in 1872, but only after much wrangling over its position until the current site was agreed.
3. Ross himself never got to see the Fountain installed; he died the year before in 1871.
4. It was originally agreed that the fountain should operate only “on Sundays and when the band plays…”
5. Dean Ramsay, the mid-Victorian minister of St John’s Episcopal Church, on Princes Street said the amount of nudity in the sculptures was “grossly indecent and disgusting; insulting and offensive to the moral feelings of the community and disgraceful to the city”.
6. The female figures represent art, science, poetry and industry, whilst the figure on the top of the Fountain is holding a cornucopia.
7. It is from the world-famous foundry of Antoine Durenne, in Sommevoire Haute Marne in France.
8. The figures were sculpted by Jean-Baptiste Jules Klagmann, born April 1810, whose other work includes figures for the Louvre and fountains in the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris.
9. The Fountain is a magnificent example of 19th century cast-iron work, in the neoclassical style commonly known as Beaux Arts.
10. It is one of only two A-listed cast iron fountains in the UK.
To find out more about how Ross Development Trust are undertaking the restoration of the Ross Fountain and the Trust’s broader project to revitalise West Princes Street Gardens. Learn more about the restoration of the Ross Fountain and find out how you can get involved with and support the Trust.