Shabby Pound Savers store gets £138,000 makeover so it fits in on fringes of World Heritage site

The bargain store before its  expensive refurbishment
The bargain store before its expensive refurbishment
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RESTORATION work costing almost £150,000 has been completed on a historic Victorian-era shop – housing a Pound Savers outlet.

The major revamp of the Nicolson Street store, which is on the fringes of the World Heritage Site, saw the outer facade returned to its 19th century glory.

A shabby plastic shopfront sign was peeled away to reveal hidden timber framing and the original features of the building, which was constructed in 1899.

Businessman Naseer Ahmed, the shop’s co-owner, said the £138,000 revamp had given it a “classier” look.

“Before, people had a different view of the business,” he said. “It was a bit shabby and now it’s more classy. There was an old plastic sign, which has been removed and it is closer to the early 19th century fascia that was there originally.”

The work, completed through an Edinburgh World Heritage grant, led to the repair of architectural features such as cornices, pilasters and delicate glazing bars. New double doors were also fitted.

During the project, it became clear that parts of the shopfront were at least 50 years older than the rest of the building, and were actually remnants of the Georgian tenement that previously stood on the site.

Upgrades to the roof as well as decaying and cracked stonework were also undertaken.

The shop – which sells household goods and souvenirs, many for around the pound mark – is now a hit with customers.

Mr Ahmed added: “We have had a very good response from customers and are really proud that we have done it. Passers-by say it looks really nice and is enticing them into the shop.”

Fiona MacDonald, conservation architect for Edinburgh World Heritage, hopes other shops will be done up as well.

She said: “This project was a great opportunity to rejuvenate a key route into the World Heritage Site. Sensitive restoration work on such a prominent building has made a real difference to both the visual impact and character of the street in this busy district of the city. Hopefully, surrounding businesses will recognise the positive impact of this restoration and follow this example.”

David Hicks, communications manager for the heritage body, said renovation work sympathetic to its historic surroundings was crucial because the building is within the World Heritage boundary, on a major route into the city.

He said: “You have lots of that sort of shopfront in the area, which is ripe for regeneration and change. Where you have really nice features, nice traditional decoration all there, all you have to do is uncover and restore them.”

The work was carried out under the Conservation Funding Programme, which allows property owners within the World Heritage Site to apply for a grant that is repayable on the sale of the building.

The building at 37-41 Nicolson Street was originally McIntyre’s Drapery Stores, described as “warehousemen” and “costumiers of ladies’ dress”, and followed the lead of iconic Edinburgh landmarks such as department store Jenners.