Thank goodness for the Castle and the Gardens - Kevin Buckle
The A71 was blocked both ways by the lights at the roadworks at Dalmahoy being permanently on red on Thursday morning but luckily my bus into Edinburgh had been forewarned so took a lengthy detour via Ratho and a series of backroads.
Full marks to the driver who had to phone in several times just to make sure he was on the right track but as we finally reached the west end of Princes Street the driver informed me as the only person left on the bus that he had to swap with another driver and we both agreed I would be quicker to walk the rest of the way to work.
Princes Street was already busy at what was 10.20am and as I walked along on the Gardens side I looked at all the shops to see what the final toll was after the opening of the St James and it really was a depressing sight.
I pass by on the bus most days but the enormity of just how many empty shops there are hadn’t really hit home. Also if I do walk along Princes Street I always choose the shops side and again that doesn’t really give the same picture as stepping across the road.
There was an added twist on Castle Street with a building having been constructed promoting Porsche. Maybe when Princes Street can take no more hotels and restaurants it will add car showrooms!
However dreadful as things looked from my side of the road I doubt anybody noticed as understandably all the people who were to a large extent visitors were looking at the beautiful Gardens and of course the Castle.
In fact just as anybody walking in the opposite direction to myself would be able to see shop after empty shop with nothing open but tourist shops and Poundland their eyes would be drawn to the castle instead and the reputation of Princes Street as one of Edinburgh’s premier shopping streets would be saved.
Johnnie Walker of course has made a big statement but I doubt any business would choose to take a nearby shop based on their opening.
There has been endless talk about Edinburgh and its World Heritage status with so much based on looks which of course scuppered the Old Royal High School hotel. Liverpool only recently having been warned that buiding a new stadium for Everton could have dire consequences for their World Heritage status went ahead anyway with their plans and lost their status.
Certainly the council don’t seem as concerned as they were over distant views of Calton Hill and yet the problems are far more serious than just the look of Princes Street. It is to be hoped that Essential Edinburgh, who are working towards improving things, have more visible success soon.
In other news Pull & Bear is the most popular St James bag we see in Avalanche, normally carried by young couples. However it is still Primark that dominates the bag count, though they really do need to consider improving the quality of their bags.
We constantly get asked by customers clutching a disintegrating bag for help and once it rains the bag almost magically dissolves. Not so much a bag for life but more a bag for ten minutes.