Edinburgh’s Greyfriars Bobby gets ‘nose job’

A waxed and polished Greyfriars Bobby with his new nose. Picture: Julie Bull

A waxed and polished Greyfriars Bobby with his new nose. Picture: Julie Bull

Greyfriars Bobby, one of Edinburgh’s best-loved statues, has been given a nose job after campaigners called for restoration work on the capital’s most famous dog.

The condition of the dog’s nose had become the subject of a Facebook campaign urging passers-by not to rub it for good luck, as it was damaging the statue.

Bronze sculpture specialists Powederhall Bronze undertook work to clean, re-patinate and wax the nose, restoring the black colour that had been rubbed away over time.

Councillor Richard Lewis, the city’s Culture and Sport Convener, said: “Although Bobby has never been in any immediate danger, it was highlighted to us that the practice of rubbing his nose was starting to make him look a little scruffy. As one of the most famous - and most popular - statues in the Capital, it’s only right that he looks his best at all times.

“Once we became aware of the local concern it was clear that we had to act and I’m delighted we’ve been able to get specialists in to restore Greyfriars Bobby to his former glory.”

Becky Thomson, who started the Facebook campaign, praised the council’s action.

She said: “This campaign started out as a bit of fun and I was amazed by how many people supported the page.

“We discussed ways we could address the problem as ordinary members of the public - by asking tour guides to discourage it or maybe using anti-climb paint. Given that this is a world-famous statue in a World Heritage site it now makes sense the Council are involved.”

Greyfriars Bobby’s historic association with Edinburgh dates back to the 19th century. According to local folklore, Greyfriars Bobby beloned to John Gray, a police night watchman in the city. When Gray died, Bobby is believed to have guarded his grave in Greyfriars Kirkyard for 14 years before dying himself in 1872. The statue of the dog was unveiled the following year, and has proved a popular tourist attraction ever since.

Restoration work

The statue will thoroughly cleaned using a mild detergent before being heated with a blowtorch to restore the colour. The bronze is heated to a temperature that is sufficient for the chemical solution to sizzle when applied with a brush. Colour is gradually built up by alternately heating small areas of the bronze sculpture with the oxidising flame and then applying the solution to the heated area.

Once this is completed a microcrystalline wax is applied while the bronze is still warm. The wax is brushed onto the surface of the sculpture ensuring no brush marks are visible.

After this initial waxing is cooled and buffed, a further 2 coats of wax will be applied.




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