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Anatomy theatre where William Burke was dissected set for major refurbishment

The Old College, set for a revamp under the plans. Picture: TSPL

The Old College, set for a revamp under the plans. Picture: TSPL

  • by JEN LAVERY
 

A LECTURE theatre where the body of murderer William Burke was dissected is at the centre of a major £20 million university refurbishment plan.

The historic Old Anatomy Lecture Theatre at Edinburgh University – where generations of leading scholars have been taught – will be totally revamped as part of the project.

After his execution Burke, who murdered 17 people to supply their bodies to science with accomplice William Hare, was cut up in the steeply-banked wooden auditorium.

In addition to the famous lecture theatre, the school of law will also be totally overhauled under the proposals.

Though the final go-ahead is still dependent on funding availability and the approval of submitted plans, design teams have been invited to submit briefs for the contract. Officials are seeking a single team who will provide Architectural, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering and Structural services and be able to see the five-year project through to completion and ensure continuity. Applications close on December 12 and the top five teams will then be invited to tender a bid.

If all goes to plan, work is expected to start on the project in January 2015, with completion scheduled for 2020.

A spokesman said: “The plans are likely to include the creation of a new state-of-the-art law library, the refurbishment of the Old Anatomy Lecture Theatre, one of the oldest rooms in Old College, and creating a more accessible and navigable facility ready for the contemporary demands of study and research. The University is seeking to procure a design team to work on this exciting new project.”

The Old Anatomy Lecture Theatre is the remaining part of what was one of the University’s biggest lecture theatres. It was used for University students and also for public viewings of dissections.

During the proposed refurbishment, classes and offices housed within the school will been distributed throughout other premises.

Current rector Peter McColl told the Evening News: “It’s great that they are planning to invest in this to improve the environment for students and staff, and also secure this iconic building for future generations. A high standard of accommodation is vital for the classes and learning taking place within the school.”

The school, which is situated within in the old College, was founded in 1707 and recently celebrated its 300th anniversary, or tercentenary. As well as being ranked as one of the top law schools in the UK, it is also world-renowned for research across a wide range of legal and socio-legal areas.

Its famous alumni include Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson and Olympic gold medallist Katherine Grainger. Author Alexander McCall Smith, who graduated from the school in 1971, retired from his post as professor of medical law in 2005 in order to 
concentrate on his writing career.

 

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