Public monument to honour Sir Patrick Geddes in Edinburgh’s Old Town

Patrick Geddes
Patrick Geddes
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A PUBLIC garden and a monument in honour of celebrated town planner Sir Patrick Geddes are to be created in the shadow of one of his finest creations in Edinburgh’s Old Town.

A monument, made by sculptor Kenny Hunter will be erected in an Edinburgh University garden, part of which will be opened to the public for the first time. The site is opposite Ramsay Garden, Geddes’s architectural masterpiece near Edinburgh Castle.

A group of enthusiasts and adademics are trying to raise £65,000 for the project after winning the backing of the city council and Edinburgh World Heritage for their plans.

They hope the statue – which it will be possible to access via a lane just yards away from the Royal Mile – will raise awareness of his life and legacy, as the so-called “father of modern town planning”.

Geddes played a key role in the 19th century overhaul of Edinburgh’s Old Town, including the creation of many new squares, gardens and closes, as well as the design of Edinburgh Zoo.

His statue will be located directly behind the student halls of residence on The Mound that were designed by Geddes.

It is the latest in a series of new monuments built for Edinburgh luminaries over the past few years, including economist Adam Smith, scientist James Clerk Maxwell and poet Robert Fergusson..

Architect Ian Appleton, who is leading the fundraising campaign for the Geddes statue, said: “The garden that the university has agreed to gift to house the statue is right opposite Ramsay Garden and you can actually glimpse it as you come down the hill from the Royal Mile.

“However a new entrance is being opened up in the wall to [allow people to] see the statue of Geddes, which will show him looking out over the city. Much of his work was around this area and he was very keen on turning the open space into small gardens, many of which are still there, like this one.”

Adam Wilkinson, director of Edinburgh World Heritage, which has contributed £10,000 towards the statue, said: “Patrick Geddes was a crucial figure in the conservation and renewal of Edinburgh’s Old Town.

“Without his pioneering influence many of the historic buildings on the Royal Mile which we now treasure would have been demolished. His ideas on town planning, particularly the importance of green space for city residents, are still very relevant today and are recognised across the globe.”

Benjamin Tindall, chairman of the Sir Patrick Geddes Memorial Trust, said: “The reality is Geddes is actually better known overseas than he is in Scotland.

“Many of his original ideas are still in use today, such as university halls of residence and summer schools and, of course, the phrase ‘think global, act local’ was by Geddes himself.”