The famous cantilever clock on the corner of Edinburgh’s Princes Street and Hope Street is to be lovingly restored.
It comes as part of the project to create the Johnnie Walker Princes Street global visitor attraction in the heart of Scotland’s capital.
The clock has been dormant over recent years after being allowed to fall into disrepair, but it will now be brought back to life as part of investment in the Johnnie Walker Princes Street visitor experience.
Expert clockmakers from one of the UK’s leading specialist heritage clock restoration companies, Cumbria Clock Company, have been commissioned to dismantle the timepiece so it can be taken to their workshop and fully restored to its original glory.
Known locally as the ‘Binns Clock’ after the former department store that first installed it in 1960, the clock became renowned as a meeting point for Edinburgh residents, particularly as a romantic rendezvous point for people going on dates.
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.’
The clock had fallen into disrepair over a number of years, including the hand painted highland figures that march out of the clock to mark the hour and half hour falling out of use. The restoration will see the mechanical procession of pipers brought back into use to once again mark the time on the corner of Edinburgh’s most famous thoroughfare.
Work is well underway to meticulously restore the building at 146 Princes Street with many of its beautiful heritage features preserved where possible and integrated into the visitor experience.
Diageo is currently investing over £185 million in Scotch whisky experiences in Scotland, the biggest single investment programme ever seen in the whisky tourism sector. As well as the Edinburgh location, the company is also investing to transform its existing 12 distillery visitor attractions across Scotland and a £35 million investment to reopen the iconic distilleries of Port Ellen and Brora.
Whisky from Diageo’s distilleries all over Scotland contribute to Johnnie Walker, but four distilleries – Glenkinchie, Cardhu, Caol Ila and Clynelish – will be linked directly to the Johnnie Walker venue in Edinburgh, representing the ‘four corners of Scotland’ and the regional flavour variations crucial to the art of whisky-making. Together these sites will create a unique Johnnie Walker tour of Scotland, encouraging visitors to the capital city to also travel to the country’s extraordinary rural communities.