Scotland’s oldest private members’ club is set for a makeover to modernise the interior of the category A listed Princes Street building and boost membership.
The elite New Club, which has been a haven and social space for Edinburgh’s top judges, lawyers, bankers and politicians since 1966, was designed by architect Alan Reiach to replace William Burn’s 1834 design on the same site.
Little modernisation has taken place since and architects Sutherland Hussey Harris, interior design studio Graven Images and conservation architect Richard Shorter have applied to the council for building consent to make alterations after winning a competition to revamp parts of the first floor level of the exclusive club.
Architect Sean Douglas, said the refurbishment will transform the principal south facing rooms on the club’s first floor level. He said: “It is quite a small portion of the Club being addressed for now and there is no work being proposed to the exterior of the club.
“The application is required for any works to the interior or exterior of the building as the Club is Grade A listed as a significant piece of post war modernism.”
Keen to remain relevant the private social club now wants to update the “tired and deteriorated” design, which includes wood panelling from the former building, to attract more members, particularly the more relaxed ‘after work’ crowd.
A strict dress code in many of the Club’s areas prevents members without a jacket or tie from entering.
The new design also addresses the traditional “ladies areas”. Women were admitted to the Club for the first time in 1970 as guests of members and offered full membership from 2010.
The design brief for the refurbishment states: “Over time, the Club has had to accommodate significant change. For instance the ingenious and, at the time, light touch, separation of the sexes that is inherent in the Club’s design and layout is no longer suitable.
“The Club lacks a lively core, which might attract members and their guests to ‘pop in’ after work or at lunch time. The main bar – called the Members’ Bar – although popular, is within the ‘formal’ area of the club, which requires patrons to wear a jacket and tie.
“Small changes to the fabric and furnishings of the club over time have eroded the quality of the interiors.
“Deterioration of some of the original fittings and fixtures is affecting their performance and appearance, particularly the lighting, ventilation and the ceiling tiles.”
The Club – which members access through a discreet entrance tucked away on Princes Street – costs £830 a year and is open to anyone who is over 18 and “clubbable”.
But applicants must be also be proposed and seconded by two existing members “whom you know well” before being considered for approval.
The Club also has 22 bedrooms, a disused swimming pool, a billiards room, a gym and various dining areas.