Funds appeal sparks fears over Jawbone Arch return

Workers wrap the iconic whale jawbone arch ahead of its removal from the Meadows in July. Picture: Julie Bull

Workers wrap the iconic whale jawbone arch ahead of its removal from the Meadows in July. Picture: Julie Bull

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HISTORIC whale bones removed from the Meadows to undergo vital restoration work may not be returned – unless an online plea for donations proves a success.

Edinburgh World Heritage has set up the Meadows Jawbone Arch Appeal in an attempt to bridge a fundraising gap after only managing to find half the £49,000 required.

Council chiefs were forced to close Jawbone Walk in December after discovering the bones had deteriorated – before they were removed in July.

They were to be put into storage for six months to dry out before experts set about the repair work.

The News told then how city chiefs planned to restore the much-loved landmark to its original location.

But that plan is now under threat after Edinburgh World Heritage struggled to attract the funds needed. Bosses there have now launched an online appeal on the JustGiving website, mainly used for charity collections, and hope word will spread on social media.

And they said that if the plan was successful, the bones could return to the Meadows around January next year.

David Hicks, Edinburgh World Heritage’s communications manager, said the fundraising organisation’s “track record” filled them with confidence, especially with almost £3000 already donated.

“We are confident enough money will be able to be found,” he said. “The Jawbone Arch is a local landmark but it’s very clear from reaction we have had, especially on social media, that it’s something that people really value.”

But the fundraising method came under fire from Marion Williams, director of civic trust the Cockburn Association, who said the plea was “beyond cheeky”.

She said: “JustGiving is very much for person-to-person charity funding, it’s not really used by institutions, so it’s an odd one to choose.

“The Common Good Fund is where I would look for the money, because the Jawbone has been given to the city of Edinburgh and the Common Good Fund is money collected from people who have given to the city.

“Given that they have millions of pounds in the Common Good Fund £20,000 is not much.”

The landmark is one of last relics of the International Exhibition of Science and Art, which took place in the Meadows in 1886.

Jawbones formed part of a stand run by the Shetland and Fair Isle Knitters before being gifted to the city afterwards.

Financial support has already come from the Marchmont and Sciennes Community Council, the Grange Association and the Friends of the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links, who have all backed the JustGiving page.

Marchmont and Sciennes secretary Alastair Philip said the whole community was eager to see the landmark reinstated.

“It’s not really the Jawbone Arch without the Jawbone intact,” he said. “It’s the future of the local landscape which links us with our historical past.”

Convener of the Friends of the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links, Heather Goodare, also encouraged people to “chip in” for the cause.

John Graham, chair of the Grange Association, said it had already contributed £500 to the project and was hopeful it would be restored.

He said: “We think it’s an important and popular landmark and we very much hope it can be successfully restored.”

katie.richardson@edinburghnews.com