Old Town theatre to throw up barricades to cut antisocial behaviour

Railings outside the Bedlam before the Second World War
Railings outside the Bedlam before the Second World War
Have your say

A CITY theatre is to be surrounded by railings again after almost 70 years in an attempt to reduce antisocial behaviour.

Edinburgh World Heritage is providing almost £34,000 to help fund a project to install cast iron railings around the Bedlam Theatre in the Old Town, with Edinburgh University, which owns the building, matching the funding.

The originals were removed during the Second World War as part of a drive to aid the war effort. The replacements are based on surviving examples from nearby churches which were all designed by the same architect – Thomas Hamilton.

It is hoped the new railings will help to stop land around the theatre attracting antisocial behaviour such as on-street drinking.

A spokesman for Edinburgh World Heritage said: “It is hoped the railings will help to reduce antisocial behaviour in the area, restore the architectural integrity of the building and also improve the setting of the Bedlam Theatre.

“This is an important site which was designed to close the view down George IV Bridge from the Bank of Scotland.”

The railings will be made at Ballantine’s Foundry, one of the few firms in Scotland to still use traditional casting techniques.

It forms part of a programme of major repairs to the Bristo Place theatre – home to the Edinburgh University Theatre Company – which got under way in April and involves roof repairs and replacing stonework.

It is hoped that work on the railings will start around October, and be completed before the end of the year.

Edinburgh World Heritage’s Conservation Funding Programme is supported by Historic Scotland and the city council, with the heritage body providing £33,893 towards the railings work.

Fringe venue manager at Bedlam Theatre, Adam Alton, said: “There aren’t that many places around where Bedlam Theatre is that will have these kind of railings, which will make it stand out even more.”

Although currently used as a theatre, the building was formerly a church, with its closing service taking place in November 1937 when the building was gifted to Edinburgh University to be used as its Chaplaincy Centre.

Edinburgh World Heritage has also awarded grants for conservation work at Teviot Place and Windsor Street.

A grant of £9318 is helping to restore a traditional shop front at a category C(s) listed building in the Old Town. The building dates to 1872 and was designed by R Thornton Shiells in a Scots Baronial style.

The project will replace modern aluminium window and door frames with traditional oak, putting back some of the history and architecture which existed there in the past.

Another grant of £9829 has been awarded to support the restoration of a cast iron balcony at a category A-listed Georgian townhouse on Windsor Street.

Earlier this year, the Evening News told how 92-year-old resident, Derek Ainsley, had spearheaded a campaign to secure the £180,000 needed to reinstate railings removed from Gardner’s Crescent during the Second World War and restore its grassy strip.

A small length of railing that survived the wartime cull provided the mould to reproduce whole sections that are to be fixed along the low boundary wall.