Georgian street lamps have returned to historic Scotland Street in Edinburgh which inspired a series of Alexander McCall Smith novels – 20 years after the project began.
The switch-on happened on Tuesday, showcasing a style of lamp used widely in Edinburgh in the 19th Century, with a conical glass cap and a large glass globe light, designed to protect the original lamps from the heat of “fishtail” burners – with eco-friendly LED bulbs.
It also incorporates a rounded glass finial, which the 19th century Holyrood Glassworks Catalogue described as a “crystal knob”.
The design process for the Scotland Street lamps began in 2011, but was held back due to the lack of original globe lamps in the city.
However, one was found in a Dublin Street cellar, which was used as a model.
The street was made famous by the Alexander McCall Smith ‘44 Scotland Street’ series of novels.
The project, which was completed through a partnership between Edinburgh World Heritage and the City of Edinburgh Council, is part of a wider scheme to restore historic street lighting at sites across the city.
The first of this wave of streetlight restoration took place in Circus Lane in 2001, and since been rolled out to Lynedoch Place, Belford Road, Clarendon Crescent, and Alva Street.
The design for the Scotland Street lamps was based on one that stood next to the Heart of Midlothian on the High Street, as seen in a photograph from 1883.
Much of the original research and planning for the project was provided by Andrew Kerr, a long-term resident of the New Town and former trustee of Edinburgh World Heritage.
By studying old photographs, Jonathan Knox, of the University of Edinburgh, was able to create a 3D computer rendering of how the lamps would have looked.
The streetlights were manufactured by Manchester-based Metcraft Lighting, a company that specialises in heritage and decorative lighting, and are fitted with LED lights to conform with the City of Edinburgh Council’s plans to convert the city’s streetlights to energy-saving LED.
Christina Sinclair, director of Edinburgh World Heritage said: “The new lighting’s authentic design has improved the architectural landscape of the street and enhanced, in a modest way, the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage Site.
“Additionally, there is the practical benefit of improving night-time visibility for residents and road users alike.
“This project perfectly demonstrates how heritage and city improvement can go hand in hand, creating a more beautiful but also more liveable city for Edinburgh’s residents.”
Councilor Lesley Macinnes, transport and environment convener, said: “It’s wonderful that the lighting on Scotland Street has now been restored with such historical accuracy, enhancing this striking New Town street while also providing a safer environment for all those who live in and travel through the area.
“We’re nearing the end of a major project to provide the city with energy efficient LED lighting and we’re pleased to be able to incorporate this into Scotland Street’s Georgian setting.”