Major works to restore historic Saughton Park get underway

Lucas Wesselson-Noble, six, and Amy Lenaghen, seven, join in the sod-cutting ceremony. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Lucas Wesselson-Noble, six, and Amy Lenaghen, seven, join in the sod-cutting ceremony. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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A MAJOR project to revamp a historic park dating back to the 17th century has got under way in the Capital.

The £5.2 million project to redevelop Saughton Park will take a year to complete and will include the reinstatement of its original bandstand and the construction of new cafe and toilet facilities.

Representatives involved in the work – which will take until next August to complete – yesterday gathered for a special sod-cutting ceremony to commemorate the occasion.

It marks the culmination of five years’ work to secure the £5.2m required for the project, made possible in part due to £3.8m of Heritage Lottery Funding.

Transport and environment convener Lesley Macinnes said she was delighted to see the work was getting under way, saying it had involved “a great deal of planning and engagement with the community” by all involved.

She added: “This historic park will benefit immensely from the major restoration about to commence, as will the public who use it, and I look forward to seeing the park reclaim its original splendour as a result.”

Other improvement work on the cards includes the restoration of the park’s stables as a community venue and base for project partners the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society (The Caley) and installation of furniture, lighting and paths across the site.

An ongoing management plan will also see the development of a full programme of events and activities, volunteering opportunities as the park looks towards Green Flag status.

Shona Nelson, chair of Friends of Saughton Park, said: “The Friends of Saughton Park are very excited to see the redevelopment work start.

“Saughton Park is a little gem in the west of Edinburgh, over the last three and a half years we have been singing its praises not just locally but far and wide.

“We are looking forward to securing the future of the park for the next 100 years.”

First established in the grounds of Saughtonhall House in the 17th century, the gardens were purchased by the council in the early 1900s for recreational use by the people of Gorgie and Saughton.

In 1908, Saughton Park was redesigned to accommodate the Scottish National Exhibition, when more than 3.5 million visitors flocked to enjoy the attractions.

It is hoped that the park’s restoration will recapture the spirit of the time, refreshing some of the key features installed for the exhibition, including the bandstand, botanic garden and winter garden.