Topshop owner Sir Phillip Green ‘baulks’ at cost of refurbishing global Edinburgh icon as Forsyth’s Spire remains absent from skyline

Sir Philip Green: Said to have baulked at 'substantial' cost of repairing decorative spire
Sir Philip Green: Said to have baulked at 'substantial' cost of repairing decorative spire
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AS the Daily Planet globe of Edinburgh it is an irreplaceable part of the city skyline.

But the absence of Forsyth’s Spire has created a mystery after the ornament failed to be returned after six months, with the billionaire owner of a certain fashion chain the only man in the frame.

Topshop – owned by Sir Philip Green – removed the three-tonne sphere in March for emergency repairs after engineers found it was in danger of collapsing.

Work was expected to take just six weeks but as of today the globe remains absent from the Princes Street landmark.

It has now emerged that the spire is being stored at a steel merchants in Fife.

Insiders told the Evening News that Topshop owners Arcadia “baulked” at the “substantial costs” of refurbishing the sphere.

It is understood that the fashion giant asked Edinburgh World Heritage to fund the refurbishment, which it is considering but unlikely to be able to afford.

Topshop said it could not discuss the refurbishment in detail but had the sphere “under lock and key” and was committed to returning it to its podium.

Euan Leitch, assistant director of the Cockburn Association, said the heritage group had been contacted by many city residents keen to see the structure returned.

He said: “Quite a number of people have contacted us to ask if we know what has happened to the spire, as it is a well-loved landmark and it reminiscent of the Daily Planet building.

“What we would like to see is an official and confirmed timescale to ensure this is restored. We’re told a substantial package of works is required and that the sums involved are considerable.

“However, Arcadia are obviously immensely wealthy and both the building’s architects 3D Reid and Edinburgh City Council are very keen to see this restored.”

The structure – a steel sphere flanked by cherubic figures – had fallen into considerable disrepair which was discovered during work to transform the top three floors 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.

Along with work to reverse corrosion to the metal, it was intended that the legs of the spire would be replated, before 23-carat gold leaf was applied. In March, Stuart Cowie, assistant architect, at 3D Reid, agents for building owner Arcadia Group, said the Historic Scotland had said it was “very keen on its return and highlighted it was the third or fourth most iconic item on the Princes Street 
skyline”.

The Forsyth Building, 
originally a department store run by RW Forsyth, was built in 
1906 and was Scotland’s first steel-framed structure, with the spire becoming a landmark in its own right.

The spire itself was completed by Gilbert Bayes, known for his work with the Royal Doulton Company and creating the The Queen of Time at Selfridges in London.

rory.reynolds@edinburgh
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