The Restoration and Relocation of the Burns Monument in Dalkeith

Midlothian Council together with Dalkeith Business Renewal and Entrust have funded the restoration and relocation of the Burns Monument in Dalkeith

The Burns monument, a Victorian cast iron fountain was originally erected in Dalkeith High Street near the junction with South Street to mark the centenary of Robert Burn’s death in 1899.

The cost was met by public subscription initiated by the local Burns club. The cast iron fountain was of a standard design, manufactured by George Smith & Co’s Sun factory.

After many years witnessing historic events such as :

  • Soldiers marching off to the first world War
  • Suffragettes holding open air meetings
  • Parades that heralded visits by crowned kings and queens
  • Blackout procedures during the Second World War
  • Processions celebrating the end of the war

the fountain finally succumbed to the pressures of modern day traffic in the centre of a busy road junction. It was moved to the gardener’s cottage in King’s Park in 1968.  In 2003 the fountain was then relocated to Komaron Court, and some repair work was carried out at that time and it was publicly inveiled to mark the Sesquicentennial birth of Robert Burns.

Over the course of time the fountain bowl and cherubs were lost as was the lantern  on the top.

As part of the Dalkeith Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) and the Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) the idea of the restoration of the monument was discussed together with possible associated public realm improvements in the High Street.

There was also a facebook campaign led by Derek Hanlon on the Dalkeith Historic Town facebook site .

Funding was agreed in 2016 between Midlothian Council and Dalkeith Business Renewal and a grant was secured from Entrust. This enabled the restoration and relocation of the Burn’s Monument back to the High Street, with public realm improvements and new heritage trail panels adjacent to the former Cross Keys Hotel and the Tolbooth.  Both these buildings have been restored under the Dalkeith THI/CARS scheme.

Funders:

Midlothian Council

Dalkeith Business Renewal

Entrust

With advice from the Dalkeith History Society and support from the Cousland Smithy Trust who lent their Burns plaque as a template for the new Burns plaque on one of the roundrels.

The Design Team:

Midlothian Council

Jim Mitchell, cast iron consultant

P1 Contractors for the public realm

Lost Art for the restoration of the Burns Monument

The Restoration of the Monument

The restoration work involved carefully dismantling the fountain from it’s location in Komaron Court and taking it to Lostart’s workshops in Wigan . The specialist process of restoring the monument was then able to start

The main elements being:

  • The stripping down and repair of the existing structure.
  • The reinstatement of missing elements , ie the plaques set in the roundrels on the four faces of the dome roof over the fountain .
  • The manufacture of the cherub and bowl which had been lost.
  • The reinstatement of the lantern.

Research was carried out to find out what plaques were orginally located on the roundrels .Discussions took place with the Dalkeith History Society and old photographs were examined. Evidence suggests that a plaque with the bust of Robert Burns was on one of the roundrels.A Burns plaque from Cousland Smithy was kindly lent by the Cousland Smithy Trust as a template for the restored plaque . The Dalkeith Town Coat of Arms may have been on another roundrel together with Dalkeith’s Masonic Coat of Arms on  another.

The lost items , the cherub , bowl and lantern were made with reference to the orginal designs for these fountains as they were built to a Victorian standard pattern book design.

Associated Public Realm Improvements

As part of the scheme to restore the Burn’s monument the pavement in front of the former Cross Keys Hotel and the Tolbooth has been extended to take in the site of the last hanging in Dalkeith . This has provided a wider and more comfortable pedestrian area and two interpretative heritage trail panels have been erected giving information about the two historic buildings.New seating and planting have also provided as part of the scheme.

Unveiling Ceremony

The Monument was unveiled on the 25th January in front of an audience of 100 people. Afterwards there were speeches , refreshments and an exhibition in the Dalkeith Masonic Lodge . The exhibition will now move to the Dalkeith library over the next month and then in the Dalkeith Museum on display .

P1010882 P1010891 P1010908 cover of the burns monument leaflet

The creation of a replica Burns Plaque for the Corn Exchange

Fiona Maher one of the Corn Exchange Heritage Officers has made a replica Burns plaque that has been erected in the Corn Exchange . This is based on the orginal which  is now in the Dalkeith Museum collection.

There is also an exhibition to explain the background to this that will also go in the Dalkeith library over the next month and then in the museum .

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