Comment: City should reserve right to pursue fine

AT last there is some good news in the Capital's very own Forsyth saga.

Thursday, 24th March 2016, 10:23 am
Updated Thursday, 24th March 2016, 10:54 am

The sphere which stood above the old RW Forsyth department store was a feature of the city’s skyline for more than a century. In its time, the Forsyth Building was a modern marvel, being the first fully steel framed structure in Scotland, and the rooftop globe was its crowning glory.


Most visitors to the city centre would never notice the metal globe nestling on the rooftops of Princes Street. Those of us in the know, however, would enjoy it all the more, knowing that not everyone knew it was worth looking up at that precise point on Princes Street to see the Forsyth Sphere.

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It might be little known by the wider world, but it is nevertheless a treasure. Its creator, Gilbert Bayes, is faamous for his work with Royal Doulton and for creating the Queen of Time at Selfridges in London.

The sphere, which displays the signs of the zodiac flanked by cherubic figures, is a part of our heritage. It deserves to be treasured. That is something that the Arcadia Group, which owns the Topshop building on which the sphrere once stood, has shown precious little sign of doing until now.

It would seem that only the threat of a fine pursued by the city council has been enough to get Sir Philip Green’s company to acknowledge its responsibilities as the current owner of one of Edinburgh’s historic buildings.

The city council has come in for plenty of flack in recent months over its role as custodian of the city’s heritage. Here it has shown that it is conscientious and ready to be tough when it needs to in order to protect our heritage for the next generation.

The city should not fold now. Until the sphere is restored to its rightful place, the council should stick to its guns, reserving the right to pursue a fine.