Tron Kirk will shine again with £9m rescue bid

The Tron Kirk is a central feature of the Old Town. Picture: Susan Nisbet
The Tron Kirk is a central feature of the Old Town. Picture: Susan Nisbet
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A MULTI-million pound rescue bid for one of Edinburgh’s most neglected historic treasures is to be launched.

Within the next few months, the Heritage Lottery Fund will be asked to help bankroll a £9 million restoration and transformation of the Tron Kirk, which has been lying virtually empty since the early 1950s, despite being one of the most prominent landmarks on the Royal Mile.

The Tron Kirk, which could be extended as part of the overhaul, is regarded as one of the most significant buildings in the city centre because it is offers “a time capsule” of 16th- and 17th-century life in the capital.

Remains of the city’s oldest surviving streets can still be seen inside the building, which sits at the corner of the Royal Mile and South Bridge, after they were excavated 40 years ago.

Experts regard them as some of the finest medieval archaeology anywhere in Edinburgh.

The latest digital technology is planned to be deployed to bring the evolution of the capital to life, while a modern extension to the building into adjacent Hunter Square, which has been dogged by anti-social behaviour over the years, is also under consideration.

Although the new-look Tron – which for years was the traditional gathering place for Hogmanay celebrations – is planned to become the major visitor information centre for the city, it is also expected to become an education hub for the city’s schoolchildren, on the history of Edinburgh.

The building, described as the most problematic conservation project in Edinburgh in modern times, was at the centre of plans by Edinburgh City Council to create a new performance and conference venue, with neighbouring cafe-bar. However, they were shelved due to funding problems.

Temporary leases allowed the building to be used during the winter festivals, the jazz and blues festival and the Fringe.

Edinburgh World Heritage Trust, which is funded by the council and Historic Scotland, will take over the building, which was last used as a place of worship in 1952, once it has the funding in place for the ambitious project.

Adam Wilkinson, director of the trust, said: “The overall vision is to create somewhere where people can learn about the whole of the heritage site, and its many beautiful and wonderful attractions. It will also be about who lived here and how they lived.

“But we also hope we can use the Tron to promote the other world heritage sites in Scotland.”

He added: “We are still discussing the scale of the project, including whether it would be best to pursue an extension for the existing building on to Hunter Square, where the public toilets are at the moment.”

It is thought work could get under way within the next two years.