Help save the Jawbone Arch

posted 5 Mar 2011, 09:55 by South Edinburgh Net Admin
Together we can save the Meadows' much-loved cetacean landmark, says Local Councillor Cameron Rose.

The 6th of May this year marks the 125th anniversary of the opening of the 1886 Edinburgh Great Exhibition in the Meadows. Queen Victoria visited in August but it was her Consort, Prince Albert, who conducted the official opening of the six-month spectacular.

It was a sensational showpiece of industry, science and art. The Grand Hall could hold 10,000 people and featured a 120 foot high dome. There were 20,000 exhibits and 1,725 works of art on display. An electric railway plied between Brougham Place and Middle Meadow Walk and a host of other attractions showed off the ingenuity and dynamism of the Victorian era.

Thirty thousand people attended on the first day; 10,000 season tickets were sold for a guinea each.

Should the council step in to help preserve the Meadows' whale jawbone?

Vote in the Evening News poll here

Although some wanted to make the imposing structure permanent, the Act of Parliament prohibiting permanent building on the Meadows was observed, and the buildings were removed after the exhibition closed on 30th October. Left, however, were a few tributes to the mesmeric event.

At the west end of the Meadows are the Masons' Memorial Pillars and the Prince Albert Sundial. Recently refurbished Nicolson Square is graced by the Tubal-Cain statue atop the Brassfounders pillar. And there is the whale jawbone arch at Melville Drive near Marchmont Road.

One exhibitor was the Zetland (Shetland) Fair Isle Knitting Association. Their legacy, no doubt reflecting the seafaring environment they represented, was the jawbone arch.

"Meet me at the Jawbone" is a refrain familiar to most of those of us who have spent any time near the Meadows. Generations of students, footballers, cricketers, residents and visitors have used the jawbone to define where in the Meadows to meet or play. A long-standing feature of the park, it has a place in the fabric of local life.

The arch is becoming tired. The structure is still solid but there are gaps where there was once a smooth surface. With plentiful surrounding foliage from nearby trees, the shade has enabled mosses to take hold. In short it needs smartened up. A stitch in time. . . .

It came as a surprise to learn that Historic Scotland had declined for a second time to list the structure. It didn't fit the listing criteria. For me that was rather a relief. I have come to suspect that Historic Scotland voraciously attempts to extend its control at every opportunity through the listing process.

Don't misunderstand me; I think generally HS does a fabulous job. It is just that it does too much. A neighbour summed it up: "Because they can, they do"

Jawbone Arch information from Tollcross Online.

Source: Councillor Cameron Rose, Edinburgh Evening News