Beloved London Road Clock returns to Edinburgh street after 15-year absence

The historic London Road clock has returned to Edinburgh’s streets, assuming a new permanent home in Leith after being in storage for 15 years.

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The clock was placed at its new site at Elm Row this morning as part of the Trams to Newhaven project, with the heritage timepiece looking better than ever following a full restoration.

The clock was able to be transferred to its new location this morning by the Trams to Newhaven team following the completion of construction works between Montgomery Street/Annandale Street and Pilrig Street last month.

The clock stood at the roundabout on London Road between 1955-2007 when it was removed to make way for the original tram project.

Transport and environment convener, Cllr Scott Arthur, said the Trams to Newhaven project will not only deliver a “a sustainable, high-capacity travel option” but it is also “making real improvements to public spaces along the way.”

Cllr Arthur added: “I’m sure the return of the London Road clock will be welcome news to many, and thanks to its full restoration it will add a striking finishing touch to the area’s transformation.

“It has a rich history, and I’m sure its face has witnessed many amazing scenes in Edinburgh.”

The landmark clock is a well-travelled ornament within the Capital.

The clock arrives at its new permanent home on Elm Row.

It began life on Waverley Bridge in 1857, moved to the West End outside Maule’s department store in 1896, before eventually relocating to the roundabout on London Road in 1955.

The beautiful pillar clock was removed from London Road in 2007 during the original tram project, but is now back on the street and expected to be operational in the coming days.

During the clock’s 15-year sabbatical, specialist clockmakers, Smith of Derby, carefully restored the clock, rejuvenating the well-known clock as part of improvements to the public space at Elm Row.

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The dials and hands on the clock have been restored with new glazing and paint work.

Works to the clock included, dismantling, priming and repainting all parts, hand painting ornate features in gold and repairing the Coat of Arms of Edinburgh and casting a new deer from aluminium.

John Lawson, city archaeologist, said: “It has been a fascinating to work with Smith of Derby in restoring this iconic clock back to its original condition and with a new striking paint scheme reflecting what we believe to be close to its origin Victorian look.”

Mr Lawson said that restoration of the famous clock has “proved more complex than first thought.”

He said: “What was thought to be a simple iron casting in four parts has been revealed by Smith’s conservation work to be a more intricate design, with individual detailed castings added separately to the main column.”

Mr Lawson added: “Along with the Elm Row pigeons, the restoration of the historic London Road clock we hope will be enjoyed by all and add to the area’s history.”

It is hoped that the eight bronze pigeon sculptures, that former transport convener Lesley Macinnes previously described as “a little piece of Leith Walk history,” will return to Elm Row this autumn.

As part of the tram project, several other monuments and public artwork pieces have been refurbished and replaced, including the Robert Burns statute at Bernard Street, which was restored and unveiled earlier this year.

A spokesperson for the City of Edinburgh Council advised that 93 percent of track slab has been laid and all the necessary utility diversions have been carried out. In addition, the main construction work to new tram stops at Constitution Street, McDonald Road, Ocean Terminal and Foot of the Walk are now complete.