I was delighted to receive the news that the Saughton Park Project has received confirmation of initial funding support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and have lodged a motion of congratulations in the Scottish Parliament to the organisers.
The award is a major step forward in transforming Saughton Park and Gardens and the City Council has been granted £392,000 to help develop the plans. Saughton Park and Gardens was once a leading tourist attraction in its heyday and the plan is to return it to its former glory. The Saughton Park and Gardens rivalled the Royal Botanic Gardens; boasting some of the best roses in the whole of Scotland and an open space that was enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.
The history behind the Saughton Park and Gardens is fascinating. It was once a hub of the local community and a centre of entertainment, particularly during the Edwardian period. The Scotsman published an excellent article on the history of Park recently, and it’s hard to imagine people strolling through the stucco pavilions or taking a ride on the rollercoaster or water chute. This was Edinburgh in 1908 and in the same year it became the location of the well-known and respected Scottish National Exhibition, which was opened by HRH Prince Arthur of Connaught. The Park was not just about good old fashioned fun, but was also used for growing onions as the Saughton community helped to Dig for Victory during World Ward II.
Development Funding will allow the Council to progress the plans and there will then be the opportunity to apply for further funding in the future. It is estimated that the full project will cost £5.83m and it’s my understanding that the Council are seeking £4.09m from the HLF, with a contribution of £1.25m from the local authority and the remainder from third party sources.
Completion of the project would allow for a comprehensive renovation of the walled garden, footpaths and historic features, and the construction of a Victorian-style glasshouse. The plans also include the creation of a café and a community building. It is hoped that the original bandstand will be saved and renovated for purpose.
I’ll be following progress on the plans and I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate the City of Edinburgh Council on this initiative and the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society for getting the project to this stage.