Anger as council cover loved Rose Street mosaics with tarmac

Furious locals have slammed Edinburgh Council for destroying historic mosaics while patching up the surface of a city centre street.

Tuesday, 29th May 2018, 12:51 pm
Updated Tuesday, 29th May 2018, 12:56 pm
A number of Rose Street's eight rose mosaics have been covered in tarmac. Picture: TSPL
A number of Rose Street's eight rose mosaics have been covered in tarmac. Picture: TSPL

Eight intricate mosaic roses were installed along Rose Street in the 1980s creating a unique heritage to Edinburgh’s New Town.

But more than 30 years of wear and tear has taken its toll on the road surface with Edinburgh City Council now resorting to the temporary measure of tarmacking over the distinctive mosaics in order to make the street a safer place for pedestrians.

Rose Street has long boasted pavement art through its eight different mosaic roses along its length. But for some years those who live and work there feel it’s been ­neglected.

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A number of Rose Street's eight rose mosaics have been covered in tarmac. Picture: TSPL

Karen Towler said: “You have got to be kidding, Edinburgh City Council. Just slop some tarmac over this beautiful artwork on Rose Street.

“While I fully appreciate public safety taking precedence, this tarmac job, a) looks awful b) it could damage the piece, and c) it probably won’t even last until Christmas. Why not just get it right first time?”

The series of circular pebble mosaics representing stylised flowers and geometric designs were created by Maggy Howarth. Of the original eight only five remain, of which two are badly damaged.

Terry Levinthal, director of the Cockburn Association, said: “Uneven pavements can be a significant trip hazard for pedestrians.

“I don’t think temporary repairs in Rose Street are an unreasonable measure because the surface needs to be safe. We recognise the paving is at the end of its lifetime. It needs to be replaced and done properly.

“But there is only so much the local authority can do on this. We need to interconnect on this to make sure improvements are made and I think any new surface should be incorporating the mosaics or replace them with new art to create some form of legacy.”

Despite being pedestrianised, delivery and service vehicles still have access to the street and locals say they are the main perpetrator behind Rose Street’s current state.

Kenny Brown said: “Rose Street should be an iconic pedestrian walkway but it’s a lost opportunity. There’s always lorries and vans delivering.”

Faith Simpson added: “This is appalling. Edinburgh needs to get the balance between heritage and infrastructure right. This is just wrong. Most deliveries could be made either off Princes Street or via trolleys.”

The city council confirmed plans are in place to restore Rose Street and emphasise its historic character, layout and features.

Council Leader Adam McVey said: “The mosaic roses were installed along Rose Street in the 1980s. Parts of the roses were badly broken through wear and tear, became dangerous and have now been made safe.

“I agree the temporary repair to make it safe is not as aesthetically pleasing as Rose Street deserves and we will consult with local businesses and residents on how the character of Rose Street, including the use of mosaics and other public art, can be best reflected as we take forward improvements to the public realm in Rose Street.”