Emergency work to repair city icon

Forsyth's Spire. Picture: IAN GEORGESON
Forsyth's Spire. Picture: IAN GEORGESON
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AN ornate statue which stands atop one of Princes Street’s finest buildings has been removed for emergency repairs after engineers found it was in danger of collapsing.

Forsyth’s Spire was taken down by specialist contractors after being deemed to pose a “significant health and safety risk”.

Forsyth's Spire with globe removed. Picture ELLEN RELANDER

Forsyth's Spire with globe removed. Picture ELLEN RELANDER

The structure – a steel sphere flanked by cherubic figures – was located on the roof of the Topshop building and had fallen into disrepair.

Its condition was discovered during work to transform the top three floors of the former Forsyth’s department store into a Travelodge hotel.

An inspection of the structure showed crude repairs had been made some years ago, with chains installed in an attempt to secure the statue.

However, that had added to key stress points and caused cracks to form. The two-metre structure was removed last Sunday in order to be repaired by experts from Stag Steel.

The legs of the spire will be replated, before 23-carat gold leaf is applied.

City planners and Historic Scotland allowed the urgent removal of the structure on the condition it is returned after restoration works are completed.

The A-listed Forsyth building was the first fully steel-framed building in Scotland and Historic Scotland regards the spire as one of the most important symbols on the Princes Street skyline.

Stuart Cowie, assistant architect, at 3D Reid, agents for building owner Arcadia Group, said the fault was found during general inspection of the building ahead of the renovation. He said: “Some of the stonework hadn’t been maintained quite as well as it could have and as a result the globe had fallen into some disrepair.

“It is being repaired and brought back to its former state and will be returned.

“Historic Scotland were very keen on its return and highlighted it was the third or fourth most iconic item on the Princes Street skyline.”

Forsyth’s Spire was completed by Gilbert Bayes, known for his work with the Royal Doulton Company, in 1906-7.

Euan Leitch, assistant director of the Cockburn Association heritage group, said: “The decorative sphere is a familiar Edinburgh landmark. The Cockburn Association would support its restoration and hope that is what the Arcadia Group Ltd have planned.”

A spokeswoman for Topshop, a division of Arcadia, said it was working closely with Historic Scotland to repair the spire.