Wednesday January 25th 2017
A newly restored monument to the Bard was unveiled today, January 25, the anniversary of Robert Burns’ birthday.
Former resident Derek Hanlon did the honours in Dalkeith, Midlothian, four years after launching a Facebook campaign to refurbish and move the memorial.
Mr Hanlon, who now lives in England, was helped by his two sons, James 10 and Jonathan 6. Mr Hanlon said:
“My Facebook campaign has connected me with Burns, with Dalkeith’s history and with over 400 individuals, organisations and businesses who have shown support for the campaign. I thank them all for their support over the last four years.
“So here, in Dalkeith’s High Street for the very first time (because no official unveiling took place in 1899), I am very proud to unveil to you, the restored and repositioned Dalkeith monument to our National Bard.”
Councillor Alex Bennett speaking at the unveiling.
Alex Bennett, Midlothian Labour Councillor and chairman of Dalkeith Business Renewal, who part funded the restoration, said:
“I want to thank everyone who has made the work possible, from Mr Hanlon to Dalkeith Business Renewal for helping fund the work and the environmental grants body, Entrust. Thanks too to Cousland Smiddy Trust for lending a plaster cast for the missing Burns plaque and to Lost Art in Wigan for the amazing restoration.”
The monument now sits in an enhanced public realm outside the former Cross Keys Hotel and Tolbooth. There’s a widened pavement encompassing the site of the last public hanging in Dalkeith, new benches and planting, and interpretative panels for historic trails in Dalkeith. This project links well with the improvements made in Dalkeith through the THI and CARS project led by the council.
Staff at Lost Art in Wigan stripped down and repaired the monument. Missing elements were then replaced such as the four lost commemorative plaques, a cherub and fountain bowl. A lantern was also reinstated.
Burns visited Midlothian in 1787 with the artist Alexander Nasmyth, who was painting a portrait of Burns to accompany an edition of his poetry. Writing to friends in 1829, Nasmyth recalled a walk in Rosslyn with Burns. Later that day, the two men strolled to Dalkeith where they dined.
The Victorian cast iron fountain, made in Glasgow by George Smith & Co’s Sun Foundry in Burns’ honour, was originally erected on Dalkeith High Street near the junction with South Street to mark the centenary of his death in 1899.
The cost was met by public subscription initiated by the local Burns club.
However, the fountain finally succumbed to the pressures of modern day traffic in the centre of a busy road junction. It was moved to the gardener’s cottage in King’s Park in 1968. In 2003 the fountain was then relocated to Komarom Court, Dalkeith. Some repair work was carried out at that time and it was publicly unveiled to mark Robert Burns’ Sesquicentennial (150th anniversary of his birth).
Over the course of time the fountain bowl and cherub were lost, as was the lantern on the top. As part of the Dalkeith Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) and the Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS), the idea of the restoration of the monument was discussed together with possible associated public realm improvements in the High Street.
Funding was agreed in 2016 between Midlothian Council and Dalkeith Business Renewal and a grant was secured from Entrust, an awards body for environmental improvement grants. This enabled the restoration and relocation of the Burns Monument back to the High Street, with public realm improvements and new heritage trail panels adjacent to the former Cross Keys Hotel and the Tolbooth. Both these buildings have been restored under the Dalkeith THI/CARS scheme.
Midlothian Council and Dalkeith Business Renewal both provided £60,000 each. The council’s contribution came from developer contributions. Entrust’s grant was for £25,000.
Derek Hanlon and his two sons, James 10 and Jonathan 6 unveiled the Burns monument
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