Glistening in gold: first pieces of the Ross Fountain make their return

The buttresses and low parts of the renovated Ross Fountain are the next pieces to be returned to the site within West Princes Street Gardens and will showcase the new French colour palate for the much-loved landmark.

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

The renovation work commissioned by The Ross Development Trust and supported by Edinburgh World Heritage started in July 2017 and is being undertaken by Wigan-based specialists, Lost Art. 

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 of 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 colour 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 in 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 other animal-like parts, suggests newly patinated parts, treated traditionally with liver of sulphur.”

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