Edinburgh Old Town to get 19th century lamps

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STRIKE a light! Street lamps in Edinburgh’s Old Town are to get a facelift from a bygone era – with modern fittings set to be replaced with 19th-
century-style lamps.

The major overhaul will see lamp designs from the 1830s brought back to life, to add an extra layer of atmosphere to the World Heritage site.

Councillor Joanna Mowat, who represents the city centre, said the street light overhaul would be a “subtle but noticeable improvement” to the city.

She said: “We always welcome improvements to our street furniture and I know that it does make a real difference to the interpretation of an area. Now you can maintain modern levels of light with historic-looking fittings and I think that people will 
appreciate it.”

The traditional designs are based on old photos of the Royal Mile – and a surviving glass lamp bowl in the city museum’s collection.

Using this evidence, scale models were produced by lamp expert Andrew Kerr, which will enable the manufacturers to reproduce details for their new reconstruction.

The move is part of a collaborative project between Edinburgh World Heritage and Edinburgh council to install authentic street furniture in the Old Town and conservation areas. It is thought the gentler lighting will be more in tune with the architecture of the city centre.

Conservation chiefs at Edinburgh World Heritage, which awarded funding for the scheme, hope the new lamps will be installed in some areas of the New Town by next year. 
An EWH spokesman said: “The extra funding of £4200 will enable the production of a specially patterned mould to produce lanterns to an authentic appearance.

“The new lamps will also be of a higher quality design which will age much better, reducing the need for maintenance and regular ­replacements.”

And he added: “The new reconstructions will replace aging concrete lamp posts as part of the city’s regular 
programme of maintenance.”

Bill Cowan, secretary of the Old Town Association, gave the new-look lamps a guarded welcome. “So much of the Royal Mile and Old Town generally is pastiche, albeit mostly Victorian pastiche, but I can’t really say we’d object,” he said.

“This is all part of the ‘heritagabilia’ of the Old Town really. Of course, there’s still quite a lot of ghastly 1960s orange streetlights around so anything is better than them.”

david.mccann@edinburghnews.com