New-look Ross Fountain mermaids back in town

0
Have your say

The firm in charge of repairing the Capital’s Ross Fountain has released images of some of its most decorative elements being restored in situ.

Wigan-based firm Lost Art has been painstakingly restoring the Parisian-made fountain back to its original splendour since last July.

What the  Ross Fountain will look like following its restoration

What the Ross Fountain will look like following its restoration

Last month, the base returned to West Princes Street Gardens, allowing the public to see the fountain’s new colour scheme of “verdigris-bronze” for the first time.

The colour is a tribute to other 19th century French fountains and marks a change from the previous all-gold coat.

The switch from gold to verdigris-bronze was the result of intense discussions between Lost Art, project consultants and chiefs at the Ross Development Trust, who are spearheading the fountain project as part of a wider bid to regenerate the Gardens. It appears to have gone down a treat with Edinburgh residents, who voted 72 per cent in favour of the fountain’s new paint job in a recent Evening News poll.

The project has been described as one of the biggest and most ambitious that Lost Art, which has restored fountains nationwide, has ever undertaken in around two decades of operation.

Parts of the Ross Fountain at Lost Art's workshop near Wigan

Parts of the Ross Fountain at Lost Art's workshop near Wigan

The award-winning company had to slowly disassemble the historic object, which was installed in 1872 after local gun-maker Daniel Ross purchased it at an exhibition, before working meticulously on the pieces at their workshop.

Damian Liptrot from Lost Art said: “The base has now gone back and the more decorative elements are starting to be returned to Scotland. It is a real challenge, both because it is slow and painstaking work and because you know that what you are going to do is going to be there for the next hundred or so years.

“It really is quite something to walk into the workshop and see this huge cast-iron woman there.

“The top statues are larger than life size and are quite imposing figures.

The Ross Fountain being disassembled for its restoration

The Ross Fountain being disassembled for its restoration

“Everything has had to be done slowly.

“The cast iron is immensely strong in some respects and really quite brittle in others.

“If you heat it at the wrong speed it will crack.

“Everything has to be cleaned and parts which have looked solid have actually been held together by rust.

The Ross Fountain from Edinburgh being restored at Lost Art's workshop

The Ross Fountain from Edinburgh being restored at Lost Art's workshop

“It’s a voyage of discovery each time you clean a new piece and you have to treat it right.

“The guys have really engaged with it and there is a great deal of pride that we are working on this.”

In recent weeks, Lost Art has returned mermaids, muses and another statues from the spectacular Victorian object, including the huge figure on top which has been christened Elsie, from Lancashire to their rightful place in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle.

A total of three shipments from six have already travelled up the motorway to the Capital, the most recent containing the mermaid figures.

David Ellis, Managing Director at the Ross Development Trust, said last night the process of crane-lifting the first of these mermaid figures was due to begin.

He added: “The fountain assembly process is expected to continue until the second week of June, with full completion following on June 26 once water testing and dismantling of the site works have been carried out.”

Lost Art was invited to get involved with the restoration after winning awards for their work in successfully restoring the Grand Fountain in Paisley, also known as the Walrus Fountain because of the huge likenesses of the marine mammals in the design.

david.mclean@jpress.co.uk