Ross Fountain


The Ross Development Trust


West Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh

A historic fountain restoration project to delight visitors to Princes Street Gardens for generations to come

Project Details
The Ross Fountain is one of only three Grade A Listed fountains in Scotland. It has been a striking landmark in Edinburgh’s West Princes Street Gardens since 1872. Before settling in Edinburgh, the fountain was displayed in London as a celebration of the 19th Century cast iron work from the French foundry of Antoine Durenne. Despite standing proud in a stunning location, the fountain has only ever worked intermittently. With structural issues and subsidence this once glorious fountain ended up in critical condition and was at severe risk of collapse.

“Thomson Gray consulted on cost reviews, project management and quantity surveying services”
Thomson Gray’s role was to review and report on the costs to ascertain whether they represented ‘value for money’ and to establish if the project risks had been managed appropriately . Following our review we were asked to provide Project Management and Quantity Surveying Services to support the Trust, the Conservation Engineer (Jim Mitchell of Industrial Heritage Consulting Ltd)  and the Structural Engineer (Tim Hetherington of Applied Engineering Design)
In partnership with a number of key stakeholders, The Ross Development Trust worked hard to pull together the Ross Fountain renovation project, which was completed in Summer 2018.

What was involved

New Foundations
Subsidence has been a real concern for the fountain since it was installed in the Edinburgh location. To combat future issues new foundations had to be installed. This meant the fountain had to be removed to allow for installation of substantial replacements. These were designed by AED Structural Engineers and installed by Kelsen Technical Ltd.

Fountain Renovation
With 122 pieces, the fountain’s renovation was an intricate operation spearheaded by Lost Art– restoration specialists based in Wigan. Due to wear and tear, pieces from the fountain had broken off and this required a recasting process for the missing parts. In addition, major cracks required welding and smoothing and the fountain was then painted to replicate original colour.

Replacement water system
Developing a sustainable water feature was key when renovating the fountain. Previously, the fountain used 12,000 litres of water per hour. To combat this, a modern water recirculation system was installed to make it environmentally sound. There is also a new state of the art diagnostics control system which continually monitors the system and alerts any issues such as pump failure. This means issues can be dealt with swiftly, whilst minimising cost.

Project Outcomes
The fountain is once again standing proud in its iconic location beneath Edinburgh Castle. The foundations are secure and provide stability for the next 500 years. The renovations and modern spec water systems mean the fountain can be enjoyed for generations to come by visitors to West Princes Street Gardens.

This project forms an important first stage of the Trust’s ongoing brief to provide new and updated connections to and from the Gardens, to both the New and Old Towns, as well as enhancing the landscape qualities of West Princes Street Gardens. These interventions should improve and respect the character and existing use of the space as a valuable city garden for Edinburgh.

More detailed case studies are available on request.

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