Royal College of Surgeons’ £1.5m for events centre

The entrance from the gardens in the Royal College of Surgeons plan

The entrance from the gardens in the Royal College of Surgeons plan

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THE Royal College of Surgeons is set for a major £1.5 million expansion after plans were unveiled for a new conference and events centre.

A three-floor former languages school on Hill Place, in the Southside, will be transformed into a venue fit enough for everything from birthday parties and weddings to medical conferences.

The spruced-up venue will be accessed via a pillared entrance opposite the Festival Theatre, before visitors head through private gardens into a lobby area with cloakroom.

It will sit neatly between the Playfair Hall and the Quincentenary Conference Hall and bosses hope it will attract national and international bookings.

The college is home to the Surgeons’ Hall Museum, which is currently being renovated with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Funds.

Scott Mitchell, the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh’s commercial director, said: “The European Language School, tucked away on a quiet side street, is being completely transformed.

“While the frontage on Hill Place will be enhanced, the real changes will be on the inside and we expect this to become one of the best-known venues in Edinburgh, whether for birthday parties, weddings or business conferences.

“The building will actually be accessed from our famous pillared entrance opposite the Festival Theatre, through our private gardens into a lobby area with cloakroom.

“Inside we’ll have three floors of purpose-built space to suit everything from exhibitions and ceilidhs to small-scale boardroom meetings or a theatre-style auditorium for up to 160 people.

“It will be a hugely versatile space and will sit perfectly between our other venues – the historic grandeur of the Playfair Hall and the glass and chrome modernism of our Quincentenary Conference Hall.

“When it opens it will help cement our growing reputation, built up over the past eight years, for superb venues for the people of Edinburgh, for Scottish businesses and for overseas visitors.

“That’s great news for the local restaurants, shops and businesses on the Southside, as many of our guests will be staying in our hotel.

“We are understandably excited at the prospect of opening in May.”

The Royal College – which already hosts weddings – is one of the oldest medical incorporations in the world, with a history stretching back more than 500 years.

Lesley Williams, head of the city’s promotional body Marketing Edinburgh’s business tourism team, said: “Our team spends all of its time and effort promoting Edinburgh as one of the finest cities anywhere for holding business events.

“Surgeons’ Hall is already a major draw for visiting conferences from elsewhere in the UK and internationally. This new venue will be a brilliant addition to help bring valuable business tourism to the city.”