Tron to ring at Hogmanay for first time in decades

Clock winder Robert Macinnes with the bell which will be rung at Hogmanay. Picture: Julie Bull
Clock winder Robert Macinnes with the bell which will be rung at Hogmanay. Picture: Julie Bull
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IN years gone by revellers would gather in their thousands outside the Tron to ring in the New Year.

But with the street party’s expansion, the venue’s position as the traditional focus of Edinburgh’s world-famous celebrations began to fade.

I remember the years when the only place to be at Hogmanay was the Tron

Rosie Macdonald

Now the former principal parish church’s bells are set to chime at Hogmanay for the first time in decades – as the kirk reclaims its ancient title as the landmark at the heart of festivities.

Lease holder David Coutts, who is among those working to revive its fortunes, is now on the lookout for a professional bellringer for the task and has also approached the city council for permission to put an end to the long years of silence.

He said: “This will be the first time the bells have rung out on Hogmanay since 1977.The clock-winder comes in every week and he has assured me the bells are in sound condition.

“I think it’s good for the city and for Edinburgh’s international reputation. And for those who can’t get a ticket for the celebrations on Princes Street, we would invite them to come to the Tron and enjoy a glass of mulled wine and bring in the New Year as we haven’t in Edinburgh in 39 years.”

Mr Coutts said he expected the area to be busier than it had been in many years, with crowds of more than 30,000.

The bells are set to ring out across the city for ten minutes upon the stroke of midnight.

“I don’t think you will be able to get near the Tron on Hogmanay,” he added.

Up until the early 1990s, the street directly outside the Kirk, on the Royal Mile, was a popular place for people to gather and count down to the New Year.

However, the larger celebrations based around Princes Street Gardens have become the main focus of parties over the past two decades.

But the Royal Mile venue began to return to prominence as a New Year venue three years ago with a Festival of the Extraordinary.

The event drew partygoers in by featuring live music performances, art installations, film screenings and masterclasses.

Rosie Macdonald, 64, a care worker who has lived on the Royal Mile for 40 years, said: “Hearing that the bells will be ringing out at the Tron for New Year has really made my day.

“I remember all the years when the only place to be at Hogmanay in Edinburgh was at the Tron.

“The place was packed with thousands of people and everyone would be kissing each other and revellers wishing each other well for the New Year. Even policemen got kissed.

“We all went there as teenagers, as students and there was a real mix of ages. One year I saw American sailors climbing up flagpoles in the Royal Mile and flinging their caps into the crowd at midnight.

“Then it all got commercial and everything moved down to Princes Street with bands, tickets and street barriers.

“It more or less killed off the Tron, which had been a meeting place for Hogmanay for centuries. Only a few diehards went along. About a dozen at the most, standing there in a wee huddle.

“At long last we are seeing it being reinstated – and about time too.”

More recently, the once-underused venue on one of the city’s busiest crossroads, has become home to a thriving indoor Georgian Market selling arts and crafts by local artists and producers.

The Tron Kirk, which also boasts a bar, cafe and tourist information centre, was built between 1636 and 1647 by order of King Charles I.