Edinburgh University's historic iron gateway to fetch thousands at auction

Edinburgh University's wrought iron gate entranceway to McEwan Hall is expected to fetch thousands of pounds when it is sold at an auction.

Friday, 2nd September 2016, 7:36 am
Updated Friday, 2nd September 2016, 8:44 am
The gates are for sell at auction. Picture; contributed


It features in the graduation photos of thousands upon thousands of students to pass through Edinburgh University.

Standing in imposing fashion over Bristo Square, the gateway provided a bold entrance to the McEwan Hall.

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But late last year, the 19th-century carved sandstone and wrought-iron structure was removed as restoration work got under way on the university site.

Later this month it will go under the hammer at an auction in Sussex and is expected to fetch up to £120,000.

James Rylands, director of Summers Place Auctions – which is selling the gateway – said that since it was removed from Edinburgh, the entrance had undergone major restoration work by an architectural expert.

He said: “The entrance is quite an unusual thing for us to sell, and it’s taken quite some time to restore it. The stonework was reasonable when it was removed from the site in Edinburgh, but the ironwork needed some work.

“It was important to freshen it up but ensure the majority of its original features remained.

“We think it may possibly be bought by a developer or someone with a large house, but you never really know.

“We are hopeful that whoever purchases it keeps it in Scotland as it holds a lot of history.”

The gates, which are supported by two carved sandstone piers and flanked by railings, are more than 16 metres wide and three metres high.

The structure will be on display and sold at the auction on September 21.

The McEwan Hall was built and presented to the university in 1897 by William McEwan, a brewer and politician. At the time, it cost £115,000 and was the single biggest private donation in the institution’s history.

The architect behind it, Sir Robert Rowland Anderson, was responsible for many of the most prestigious Victorian buildings in Scotland, including the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and Mount Stuart House on the Isle of Bute.

Built in the Italian Renaissance style and now a Grade I listed building, McEwan Hall forms an integral part of the university site. It is now undergoing a £33 million revamp, expected to be completed by next year.

A spokesman for Edinburgh University said: “The gates – which were not part of the original building – do not feature in the landscape design approved by the city council.

“Efforts were made to find a new location for the gates elsewhere within the university, but none was suitable. An agreement was reached with our contractor to have them removed.”