Iconic Princes Street lovers clock to be restored to former glory

The 'Binns clock' has fallen into disrepair.

Saturday, 4th January 2020, 4:00 pm

Restoration work will soon begin on a well-loved Edinburgh clock which has lain in disrepair for several years.

The ‘Binns Clock’ at the West End of Princes Street will be restored as part of work on the new Johnnie Walker visitor experience.

Named after the former department store which installed it, the iconic cantilever clock which stood over the corner entrance at Shandwick Place was traditionally a meeting point for couples.

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It has fallen into disrepair in recent years, including the hand-painted highland figures which march out of the clock to mark the hour and half hour no longer being used.

The clock will be restored by clockmakers from the Cumbria Clock Company, one of the leading specialist heritage clock restoration companies in the UK.

It has been dismantled and will be brought to the Cumbria Clock Company workshop, where it will be restored to its original condition.

The clock was installed in 1960 by the Binns department store.

Binns, founded in 1807 by Yorkshire draper George Binns, took over the building from Robert Maule & Son home furnishers, who had occupied it since 1894.

Binns occupied the premises between 1934 and 1953, when it was taken over by House of Fraser, which in turn closed in November 2018.

Development work is now well underway to turn the site into a multi-million pound Johnnie Walker ‘immersive visitor experience’ across three floors of the building, including performing events space for music and theatre, retail space on the first floor and a roof-top bar.

The refurbished building could be open as soon as next Christmas.

It is expected to create between 160 to 180 full time equivalent roles once it is fully open, including experience ambassadors, bartenders, retail consultants, front of house staff, as well as professional actors.

The Johnnie Walker visitor experience is the focal point of a £185 million investment in Scotch whisky and tourism from beverage giant Diageo.

Ewan Andrew, Diageo President of Global Supply and Procurement, said: “We are really excited to be working with the skilled craftspeople from Cumbria Clock Company to carefully restore the clock and bring it back into use.

“It is such an important part of the cityscape and is so fondly regarded by Edinburgh locals that it will be great to reinstate it as it used to be.

“With the restoration we want the Johnnie Walker Princes Street clock to once more become an iconic meeting place for the people of Edinburgh.”

Mark Crangel, the clockmaker from Cumbria Clock Company who is overseeing the restoration, said: “We repair, maintain and conserve public clocks all over the world, from the largest clocks in the UK to local church clocks - but every clock has its own story.

“It’s great to be working on this clock because it is such a well-known landmark in Edinburgh.

“It’s not worked for a while now and with a lot of moving parts, so it will be a demanding job but it will be incredibly satisfying to see the clock working again as it did when it was first installed 60 years ago.”