House jigsaw to be pieced back together at Botanics

The Botanic Cottage building pre-demolition
The Botanic Cottage building pre-demolition
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IT HAS been painstakingly removed brick by numbered brick – now comes the tricky part of putting it back together.

Work is set to get under way on resurrecting the historic Botanic Cottage after the first round of a £1.2 million funding application was given the green light.

Eileen Dickie, chair of the Cottage Friends Society

Eileen Dickie, chair of the Cottage Friends Society

The ambitious project will see the 18th-century building brought back to life less two miles away from its original site in Haddington Place, off Leith Walk.

The Botanic Cottage was the “gateway” to the previous Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh site in Leith Walk from 1764 to 1821. It was there that renowned botanist Professor John Hope taught students about the emerging science of botany.

It is to be rebuilt from its original materials in the Demonstration Garden to the north of the Botanics’ site and turned into a research and education centre. New educational activities will include a series of training workshops in traditional skills for young apprentices, interactive and 
horticulture-themed projects for local schools, history and heritage-related events and exhibitions for the public.

Dr David Rae, director of horticulture and learning at RBGE, said the news that the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) had approved the initial funding 
application was “exciting news for a truly unique project”.

“The Botanic Cottage is significant to RBGE’s history but it also has a vital role to play in the future,” he said.

“This exciting opportunity to rebuild dovetails with several important requirements, including the need for an all-weather facility to cater for the growing demand for hands-on horticultural education. It will also provide extended community engagement space.”

The building material removed from the original site remains stored in the garden’s large nursery at Inverleith.

Colin McLean, head of the HLF in Scotland, said: “This cottage has connections to eminent architects and scientists, and was where enlightened botanical teaching from the 1760s to the 1820s took place. We are delighted to give our initial support to a project which will not only preserve the cottage’s rich heritage, but will see it once again as a thriving learning space, inspiring young people and community groups as they explore the wonders of our natural world.”

Jennifer Sharp, of the Botanic Cottage Trust, said: “The trust is delighted that the management of the Botanic Cottage project has been transferred to the RBGE. It is now the responsibility of the RBGE to carry the project forward to completion.”