Edinburgh’s Tron Square set for revamp

A NEGLECTED square in the heart of the Old Town is set for a revamp after residents launched a bid to smarten up its appearance.

Children at Play - Cuddie Fight Tron Square, April 1954 . Norman Davidson battles with Tate Wilson while Billy Carty and Peter Bridges are the horses.

The steps, paving and fences at Tron Square, located between the High Street and Cowgate, will all be replaced or improved under plans lodged by the city centre neighbourhood partnership.

Residents hope the £18,000 proposals will “invigorate and spruce up” the historic square, which will continue to be maintained by the city council once works are complete.

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They have also held several meetings with Councillor Karen Doran, Labour member for the city centre, and council officers in a bid to ensure the upgrade is carried out.

Washing day in Old Edinburgh - a clothes line is strung from balcony to balcony in Tron Square, October 1958

Bill Cowan, chairman of Old Town Community Council, has welcomed the plan, adding that smaller, maintenance and repair-focused projects would be essential to preserving the residential character of the city centre.

He said: “This is absolutely a good thing and it’s long overdue that we maintain this sort of thing and bring it up to standard.

“What often happens in many cities is that they will spend millions on some area and then forget about it. It’s all about maintenance really.

“I think we would rather see a little bit of money spent here and there, as required, to maintain something, which is what this proposal is and that’s brilliant.

Tron Square. Picture: Scott Taylor

“The council is inclined to forget that the city centre, and the Old Town in particular, is a residential area. There are about 10,000 people living there, which is quite a significant number of people.”

Although easy to overlook, the square is among Edinburgh’s most historic locations and also has a grisly past.

Just over 60 years ago, George Alexander Robertson had the dubious honour of being the last person ever to be hanged in Edinburgh for brutally killing his wife, Elizabeth McGarry, and teenage son George, who lived with his daughter, Jean, at 57 Tron Square.

His daughter was the only survivor of the attack and testified against her father during his murder trial at the High Court.

Folk singer Tam White gig at the Yellow Carvel (later the Ceilidh Club) in Tron Square Edinburgh, July 1970

Mr Cowan said the latest proposed upgrade would cement a steady improvement in the square’s overall appearance since the early 1990s.

“The square was really squalid 20 or 30 years ago,” he added.

“Thank goodness for things like the neighbourhood partnership. Although the budget is miniscule, they put it to good use.

“Doing a little bit of maintenance on these squares and closes is absolutely essential for the people who live there.”

Cllr Doran said the residents deserved the city’s support.

She said: “It’s a delightful 
little square, with houses all the way round, but does look a little run down.

“The residents have already done a lot of work themselves to improve things and they need a bit of help now, just to bring the place up. I support them 100 per cent.

“Having residents in the area is really important to the vibrancy of the city and it’s something I want to support.”