It was once a regular meeting point for romantics or to meet friends for a day out shopping. The “Binns Clock” on the corner of Edinburgh’s Princes Street and Hope Street became an established city landmark soon after the former department store installed it in 1960.
Now the famous cantilever timepiece is to be restored as part of the project to convert the former department store, latterly Frasers, into the Johnnie Walker whisky visitor attraction.
The work will be undertaken by one of the UK’s specialist heritage clock restoration companies, Cumbria Clock Company.
Ewan Andrew, Diageo president of global supply and procurement, said: “It is such an important part of the cityscape and is so fondly regarded by Edinburgh locals that it will be great to reinstate it as it used to be.
“With the restoration we want the Johnnie Walker Princes Street clock to once more become an iconic meeting place for the people of Edinburgh.”
Mark Crangel, the clockmaker from Cumbria Clock Company who is overseeing the restoration, said: “We repair, maintain and conserve public clocks all over the world, from the largest clocks in the UK to local church clocks – but every clock has its own story.
“It’s great to be working on this clock because it is such a well-known landmark in Edinburgh. It’s not worked for a while now and with a lot of moving parts, so it will be a demanding job but it will be incredibly satisfying to see the clock working again as it did when it was first installed 60 years ago.”
The restoration will see the mechanical procession of hand-painted pipers brought back into use to once again mark the time.
Work is well under way to meticulously restore the building at 146 Princes Street with many of its heritage features preserved where possible and integrated into the visitor experience.
Diageo is currently investing over £185 million in Scotch whisky experiences in Scotland, the biggest single investment programme ever seen in the whisky tourism sector.
As well as the Edinburgh location, the company is also investing to transform its existing 12 distillery visitor attractions across Scotland and a £35 million investment to reopen the iconic distilleries of Port Ellen and Brora.
Whisky from Diageo’s distilleries all over Scotland contribute to Johnnie Walker, but four distilleries – Glenkinchie, Cardhu, Caol Ila and Clynelish – will be linked directly to the Johnnie Walker venue in Edinburgh, representing the ‘four corners of Scotland’ and the regional flavour variations crucial to the art of whisky-making.