£50,000 revamp planned for steps at Jacob’s Ladder

A couple take in the view from the top of Jacob's Ladder. Picture: Jon Savage

A couple take in the view from the top of Jacob's Ladder. Picture: Jon Savage

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IT’S the steep, winding staircase carved directly into the volcanic rock of Calton Hill – offering stunning views over the ancient heart of the city.

But the historic Jacob’s Ladder, which leads all the way from under the rail bridge on Calton Road to Regent Road above, has been left a state of disrepair following years of neglect.

Now heritage bosses want to pump £50,000 into revamping the picturesque path and returning it to its former glory.

Edinburgh World Heritage, which safeguards the city’s Unesco World Heritage status, wants to install lighting, repair the walls and footpath, remove graffiti, repaint rusty railings and install signs.

And bosses are calling on the support of the public as they seek to secure more funding to make their dreams a reality.

Adam Wilkinson, director of Edinburgh World Heritage, insisted scenic routes such as Jacob’s Ladder were a vital part of Edinburgh’s charm.

He said: “The many paths, closes and stairways which crisscross the centre of Edinburgh are an integral part of the city’s weft and weave.

“Jacob’s Ladder is a useful and potentially delightful pedestrian link between Edinburgh’s Old and New Towns, but has fallen into a poor state of repair.

“Edinburgh World Heritage will be investing to improve safety at night with discreet lighting, install pedestrian signage, deal with the graffiti, and generally improve the condition of the steps and railings. We will also be applying to the New Waverley Fund for a further grant towards the cost.”

The historic staircase is named after the Old Testament story of Jacob’s dream about a stairway to heaven.

But heritage chiefs think the title could also trace back to the path being used as a route for funeral processions up to the burial ground on Calton Hill.

It was first referenced on a map in 1759, but is thought to have been an informal route for many years before that.

We revealed last year that land surrounding the litter-blighted base of Jacob’s Ladder, close to Waverley Station, is set to be cleaned and transformed into a community garden as part of local improvement works connected to the £150 million New Waverley development. Staff at the Old Town Development Trust want to create an orchard, wildflower meadow or vegetable growing plot in the area.

Five other projects also received a cash boost as part of the £200,000 pot – including Edinburgh World Heritage plans aimed at improving the appearance of New Calton Burial Ground.

Bill Cowan, chair of Old Town Community Council, welcomed the latest plans for investment in Jacob’s Ladder.

He said: “The community will be very pleased to see Jacob’s Ladder done up. It’s an asset to the city, [and] it’s high time something was done with these sites.”

The ongoing New Waverley development is transforming a 7.5 acre site beside the Royal Mile into shops, restaurants, hotels, offices and flats. Developers describe it as “the new creative, cultural and innovation quarter in the heart of Edinburgh”