Edinburgh World Heritage - News Article


Garden Restoration Supports Traditional Skills

New wrought iron gates have been installed at Gardner’s Crescent, restoring a community garden.

Oct 29, 2012

The project was the inspiration of local residents, and with backing from Edinburgh World Heritage, Scottish Power, Miller Homes and the City of Edinburgh Council, the gardens are gradually being transformed.

The garden is situated at the centre of the historical crescent between one of Edinburgh’s finest Georgian terraces and Rosebank Cottages and Rosemount buildings, notable examples of 19th century model housing. Laid out in 1822, it provides an oasis of calm amidst the bustle of the surrounding business district.

The Friends of Gardner’s Crescent were formed in July 2006, following work to power cables underneath the garden. Scottish Power committed to significant remedial work, but the Friends decided to be more ambitious and try to restore the authenticity and character of the original design.

New railings and gateways have already been installed, based on remnants of the originals. Other key elements will be the replacement of the footpath connecting the two gateways, the planting of trees, shrubs and flowers, new lighting and the installation of park benches and bins.

Fiona MacDonald, Conservation Architect for Edinburgh World Heritage said: “We are delighted to be able to help the Friends of Gardner’s Crescent to restore this historic garden for the benefit of the community.  The project is a good illustration of how heritage conservation and can help locals to improve their environment.”

Cllr Richard Lewis, Culture & Leisure convener, said the project was a great example of what can be achieved through partnership working: “I congratulate the residents for their determination to see this fantastic project through. By working together and securing funding from a number of different agencies, they have succeeded in returning the garden to its former glory, benefiting the local area and, indeed, the wider Edinburgh community."

The project is also supporting the maintenance of traditional skills. The gates were made by Charles Laing’s Foundry, which still uses old fashioned sand-casting techniques. Wrought iron is no longer produced so recycled material will be used, supplied by another specialist firm.

Wrought iron is distinct from modern materials such as mild steel or pure iron in that it incorporates impurities, mainly strands of glass, in its manufacture. This gives it a great resistance to corrosion, making it easy to maintain by simply painting regularly, and ensures that fine detail in the design is not obscured.

A feuing plan of 1822 shows the original design for the garden: a symmetrically placed circular lawn, echoing the shape of the crescent itself.    A less formal arrangement with pathways and corner flower beds seems to have prevailed.  The garden was once surrounded by cast iron railings but these were removed from the garden's retaining wall to help the Second World War effort and were not replaced.   A remnant of the original railings is situated at the south end of the garden and has provided valuable guidance for the restoration plans.

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