Dragons leave their den for makeover: Historic Patrick Geddes brackets go for restoration

Paul McAuley at work on the dragons
Paul McAuley at work on the dragons
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THEY are the historic ornaments which have adorned the entrance of Sir Patrick Geddes’ famous Lawnmarket tenement for more than a century.

The once brightly-coloured brackets carved into dragon figurines had fallen into disrepair in recent years – but are now set to be brought back to life.

The ornamental brackets are to undergo refurbishment after their plight was highlighted by a granddaughter of the celebrated town planner.

The items at Wardop’s Court will be painstakingly repainted and decorated with gold leaf over the coming months.

Edinburgh World Heritage and the Brownlee Old Town Trust offered to fund the work after Claire Geddes noticed the figurines decorating her grandfather’s building had fallen into disrepair.

Two of the items were created by S Henbest Capper in 1892, with two more crafted by Sir Patrick’s son Arthur in 1911.

Monument experts at the city council have undertaken the work, which expected to take around 100 hours.

Much of the detail on the teeth and tails of the dragon has been lost due to painting over the years and will be recarved, while new coats of paint will be carefully added.

Double thickness 24 carat yellow transfer gold will then be added to the creatures before they are returned to the entrance of Wardrop’s Court.

Rosemary Mann, treasurer of the Old Town Association, said the figurines were an important local landmark.

She said: “This is a very significant building in the Old Town designed by Patrick Geddes. It was his belief that good art should be accessible by everyone, and these items are an example of that.

“We believe two of the dragons have been repainted at some point and the original gilding has been painted over, so it will be nice to have them restored.

“Every credit to Claire Geddes who raised the issue and ensured that something could be done to restore them to their original glory.”

Katie Kerr, who owns a holiday apartment in the building, said they were of considerable interest and are a well-known landmark. She said: “They are a very much part of the building, and you find visitors still remark on them. It will be good to see them restored to their original grandeur.”

Paul McAuley, the city council monuments officer working on the restoration, added: “We’re giving them a good spruce up for the New Year and they’ll be back by April.”