New Trust Submits School Plans for Former Royal High

By April 23, 2015

A newly formed Scottish charitable trust has submitted proposals to the City of Edinburgh Council to restore the Old Royal High School, one of the most important buildings within Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site as a new home for St Mary’s Music School, Scotland’s leading specialist music school.

Under the proposals, The Royal High School Preservation Trust (RHSPT) wishes to conserve the iconic Thomas Hamilton masterpiece and secure its long term future by restoring its original use as a place for educating young people from across Scotland and beyond. The RHSPT believes that aligning the conservation of the former Royal High School buildings with ongoing plans to find a suitable site for St Mary’s Music School will create a fitting and lasting legacy for the site as a focal point for cultural excellence in the Capital.

The Proposal of Application Notice submitted to the Council this week signals the beginning of a process of formal consultation with St Mary’s Music School, city, community and planning representatives, together with arts, education and heritage organisations, to bring forward detailed plans later this year. Crucially, the Trustees of the RHSPT will be seeking to ensure that final proposals for the site deliver an outcome that is in keeping with Edinburgh’s rich cultural and historical heritage, but which also presents an economically sustainable future.

William Gray Muir, Chairman of the Royal High School Preservation Trust said:

“Our aim is the preservation and enhancement of an endangered architectural masterpiece, not just in the context of the City of Edinburgh but Scotland as a whole. Our ardent wish is to achieve this by maintaining the Old Royal High buildings as a school, the purpose for which they were built, and ensure its future use as a vibrant and unique academic institution.  What could be more appropriate than making it home to a national treasure like St Mary’s Music School?”

It is expected that the relocation of St Mary’s Music School to the former Royal High School buildings would be ideal for providing the additional teaching and performance space it requires for a growing student body, while allowing it to extend its popular programme of Saturday music classes for Edinburgh children.

He added:

“St Mary’s Music School would breathe life into the building again, making full and imaginative use of its wonderful spaces, filling the rooms with music: a literal rejuvenation of Thomas Hamilton’s world-class monument of the Edinburgh Enlightenment. We look forward to outlining our detailed plans for the site soon.”

The RHSPT has the financial backing of the philanthropic Dunard Fund, which has committed funds to underwrite the restoration of the Old Royal High School’s listed buildings and provide world class facilities for the music school.

Elizabeth Lambley

Tel: 0131 554 1230