The Ross Fountain, Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh
Over the course of 2017/2018 we were engaged with the restoration of The Ross Fountain in West Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh. The Ross Fountain had fallen into a considerable state of disrepair and as a signal for the ambition to create a truly internationally recognised City Park environment The Ross Development Trust employed Kelsen to undertake the restoration works in collaboration with Lost Art Ltd.
Unusually the client employed two ‘main’ contractors – Kelsen took the lead and were appointed Principal Contractor. Lost Art Ltd were responsible for the off-site restoration of the cast iron structure.
The ultimate failure of the original installation directly resulted from the very poor ground conditions within the park (the entire park is essentially reclaimed land) and inadequate foundation for the masonry and cast iron structure. The project therefore required the complete removal of the cast iron, the recording, removal and conservation of the masonry structure forming the pools and the complete removal of the below ground access tunnel that provided access and routeway for water pipework.
The new works comprised the installation of a below ground plant room constructed within a temporary cofferdam connecting via a service duct to a below ground walkway tunnel which provides access to the interior of the fountain structure and distribution of pipework and electrical services.
Owing to the very poor ground conditions all excavation work required significant temporary works installations to facilitate the construction. This was all completed as part of Kelsen Contractor Design. The new structure required the installation of mini piles also undertaken as a Contractor Design Portion.
Re-configuring of the historic and listed masonry required dovetailing highly detailed and precise new construction (required for final application of waterproofing membranes to the pools) with the historic elements and re-presenting the completed fountain exactly ‘as found’.
The hidden new construction also conceals an elaborate distribution of electrical infrastructure to service the spectacular lighting installation completed as part of our works. This was also delivered as a Contractor Design element and we engaged and worked closely with Gavin Fraser at Foto Ma. The entire lighting installation is submerged within the fountain pools.
Whilst the work content of the project presented certain expected challenges there were other numerous operating constraints that made the project logistically very difficult. The only access to the work site was across a narrow bridge that spans the rail tracks to Waverly Station – this bridge has a MGW of 7.5 tonnes which placed a significant constraint on methodologies for carrying out the work. Significant volumes of excavated material were carted off-site, imported aggregate and concrete requirements saw the movement of several thousand tonnes of construction materials.
Removal of the delicate cast-iron structure was also fraught with difficulty as the cast-iron structure was severely deteriorated in many locations. Kelsen mobilized a tower crane to the site (a self-erecting pedestrian crane to deal with the weight restrictions) and executed a complete lifting plan for the project with our own ‘in house’ lifting supervisors/operators etc.
The site was operational from May 2017 until July 2018. West Princes Street Gardens attracts significant visitor numbers from around the world and the park is busy throughout the day all year round. The Park also hosts numerous events throughout the calendar not least the Hogmanay Party. Each event requires a significant mobilisation of temporary event infrastructure all of which enters and exits the park via the route over the rail tracks. This required significant effort to co-ordinate the construction activity with park users, City of Edinburgh Council and event organiser/contractors. We are very pleased to confirm that the entire project was completed without incident and this project is very warmly regarded by the client, design team and contractors alike.
Client: The Ross Development Trust
Conservation consultant: Industrial Heritage Consulting Ltd.
Project Manager: Thompson Gray;
Structural Engineer: AED;
Quantity Surveyor: Thompson Gray;
Cast Iron Specialist: Lost Art Ltd;
Lighting Designer: FotoMa.