Transformed stairwell in line for UK award

THEY are a proud symbol of Victorian engineering which lost their historical charm to dilapidation, antisocial behaviour and graffiti.

Now the 104 steps built more than 100 years ago to herald the opening of The Scotsman newspaper on North Bridge are in the running to be named one of the best places in Britain.

The Scotsman Steps were transformed from a dingy stairwell last year after each step was turned into a different colour of marble as part of a £300,000 makeover ordered by Edinburgh City Council and Edinburgh World Heritage.

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The project, overseen by Turner Prize-winning Scottish artist Martin Creed, is one of two Scottish contenders in the UK-wide Civic Trust Awards in Edinburgh next month, along with the revamp of the National Museum of Scotland.

It is also on the shortlist to win the Scottish Civic Trust’s My Place honour this year, where it will be competing with the likes of a new wing at Shotts Prison, the transformation of a derelict stables block in Glasgow, and the revamp of Maryhill Burgh Halls, also in Glasgow.

Fiona Rankin, projects manager for Edinburgh World Heritage, said: “The Scotsman Steps are a wonderful example of building conservation and art working together to transform a neglected public space and reduce antisocial behaviour.”

BRIAN FERGUSON