Sparks flew as a gold-painted landmark which has had pride of place atop the Ross Fountain for 145 years was carefully removed for restoration.
The 19th century cast-iron statue – whose naked form once caused outrage from an Edinburgh minister – usually at home on top of the Ross Fountain in West Princes Street Gardens was prized away from the main monument this morning marking the start of a £1.5m renovation.
The Ross Development Trust has committed return the fountain, including the cast-iron statue, to its former glory as part of a wider £25 million revitalisation of the city centre gardens.
A 40ft a heavily counter-weigthed crane negotiated the fountain to lift the four tonne statue to safety and onwards to Wigan for restoration where conservation experts will carry out the work
Managing director of The Ross Development Trust David Ellis said: “It’s been years in the planning and to see it finally happen and for it to all go smoothly is just excellent.
“I think, personally, on behalf of the Trust and also for the people of Edinburgh it’s such a loved monument. It’s been here for so long and it’s become a massive part of the city for the last hundred odd years and to see it at the first stage of its restoration process, I’m delighted, and can’t wait to see it back in full working order.
Mr Ellis said the statue’s removal was the most challenging obstacle in the fountain’s restoration and expects dismantling the rest of the structure to be “pretty quick”.
The year-long restoration project will see new foundations and waterworks, enabling the fountain to operate for the first time in years.