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!