Edinburgh World Heritage - News Article


Princes Street Statues get a brush up

Three statues in Princes Street Gardens are to be restored.

Aug 20, 2010

The bronze statues of David Livingstone, Adam Black and Professor John Wilson are all located in East Princes Street Gardens, in prominent positions near the Scott Monument. Overall the statues are in good condition, but essential conservation work is now required to prevent corrosion.

The first stage of the project is to scrub and gently clean the statues to remove all the accumulated grime, particularly algae and bird droppings which are acidic. Each will then be given a specialist treatment to stabilise any corrosion. The bronze will then be re-patinated before a new layer of wax is applied to protect it.

Some of the work will be carried out by volunteers and by young people under the Future Jobs Fund. This aims to offer work experience to young school leavers who have not found work, increasing their awareness of employability skills and possible career paths. The total cost of the project is £16,550, funded by Edinburgh World Heritage and the City of Edinburgh Council, and a donation from the Mount Royal Hotel on Princes Street.

Adam Black (1784-1874)

Adam Black was a liberal politician and reformer, at a time when parliamentary reform and the extension of the right to vote were at the top of the political agenda. He became an Edinburgh Town Councillor in 1832 and was twice Lord Provost of the city. His publishing house, Blacks, acquired the copyright for the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and in 1851 bought the copyright for Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley novels. The statue was designed by John Hutchison RSA (1833-1910), and was unveiled on 3rd November 1877.

Professor John Wilson (1785- 1854)

Professor Wilson was born to a wealthy family near Paisley, and studied at Glasgow and Oxford Universities. Qualified in law, he enrolled as an advocate in 1814, but his main ambition was to write. He was a failure as a poet and novelist but found his niche in writing for Blackwood’s Magazine, a prestigious Tory publication, under the pseudonym of ‘Christopher North’. In 1819 he was appointed Professor of Moral Philosophy at Edinburgh University, although his appointment caused some controversy. He was an influential thinker of his day, although his anti-reform views provoked opposition. The statue was sculpted by Sir John Steell and the plinth was designed by the architect David Bryce, and was unveiled on the 25th March 1865.

David Livingstone (1813 – 1873)

David Livingstone was born in Blantyre, Lanarkshire and worked in a cotton mill from the age of ten. A keen scholar, he learned Latin and natural history at the company school and in 1836 he began studying medicine and theology. In 1841 he was sent to South Africa as a missionary doctor, and became a famous African explorer journeying to Lake Ngami, the Zambezi River and the Victoria Falls. Upon his return in 1856 he was awarded the Gold medal of the Royal Geographic Society for his discoveries. He returned to Africa in 1858 and discovered Lake Nyasa. He died in 1873 while searching for the source of the Nile.

The statue was sculpted by Amelia Paton Hill, (1820 - 1904) one of the few women sculptors in 19th century Edinburgh. It shows Livingstone wearing a cloak and haversack, having cast off a lion skin. He is holding a walking stick and Bible, with a pistol and compass at his waist.

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