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Tron Kirk to re-open to the public

f9tMNPyThe exterior of the Tron Kirk on the Royal MileThe City of Edinburgh Council has handed the keys of the Tron Kirk on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile to Scottish Historic Buildings Trust (SHBT) as the new custodians of the building. The council selected SHBT as its preferred partner to restore the Tron in 2021 and the charity has now signed a 5-year lease in an agreement that will see it take on the management role of the building as it develops the restoration project. This will convert to a 125-year lease when the capital project is ready to begin.

Scottish Design Exchange (SDX), the social enterprise company that offers retail outlets for Scotland’s artists and makers, will occupy the Tron as SHBT’s tenant while the Trust undertakes a feasibility study to set out a future vision for the building, working with the local community to develop a sustainable use. 

SDX, which has shops in George Street in Edinburgh and in Buchanan Galleries in Glasgow, will offer space in the Tron to artists from across Scotland to sell their work. The indoor marketplace will open on 1st July.

Chair of Scottish Historic Buildings Trust Maggie Wright said:

“Scottish Historic Buildings Trust is privileged to be working with the City of Edinburgh Council to reopen the Tron Kirk, which has been a part of the Old Town of Edinburgh since the 17th century. We are delighted to welcome SDX to this much-loved Edinburgh landmark. Their tenancy represents a ‘meanwhile use’ of the building and will provide an engaging space for locals and tourists to explore as we consult with the community on its long-term future.”

“Our partnership with SDX continues SHBT’s connections to the creative industries. Our work at Custom House in Leith has seen the building transformed into a vibrant creative hub, providing a temporary home for a wide range of artisans and artists to work collaboratively while the restoration project is developed.”

SDX’s proposal to use the Tron Kirk as an indoor market space for local Edinburgh artists will showcase independent artists and designers from the area to both tourist traffic and locals, who will sell a variety of products varying from original art, glass, ceramics, jewellery and woodwork. With exciting ideas around stalls, fundraising and exhibition space, the group’s creative outlook will be an asset to the Old Town of Edinburgh.

Councillor Mandy Watt, Depute Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council, said:

“Together we’re securing the future of Edinburgh’s historic Tron Kirk and I’m delighted to see the keys handed over. 

DTtzkf7The inside of the Tron Kirk, including the original hammerbeam-style roof and stained glass windows

“This is a building which has withstood centuries of change. It has survived the Great Fire of Edinburgh and two World Wars. In recent years, however, it has been at serious risk of disrepair. 

“Scottish Historic Buildings Trust has an excellent track record of preserving buildings like this. Their work securing sustainable futures for Riddle’s Court in the Old Town and Custom House in Leith are two great examples. 

“I’m confident they will do the same with the Tron Kirk, which has acted as a gathering place for the people of Edinburgh for almost 400 years. It’s great that we’ll see this tradition continue when doors reopen on 1 July for an indoor market space.”

CEO of Scottish Design Exchange Lynzi Leroy said:

“I am absolutely delighted to have been given the opportunity to bring local artists and designers to such a well-loved historical building at the heart of the Royal Mile. The Scottish Design Exchange has been helping artists from all over Scotland to showcase their work since 2015, and we know that their products are loved by locals and tourists alike.”

SDX will open the doors of the Tron Kirk on 1st July 2022, and further updates will be available on SHBT’s website www.shbt.org.uk.

Scottish Historic Buildings Trust is a Charity and Building Preservation Trust with over 40 years’ experience saving derelict and redundant buildings throughout the whole of Scotland. The Trust collaborates with local communities and specialists to preserve significant properties at risk. With a small team and no public funding they have already restored over 30 buildings and raised in excess of £30 million. SHBT’s mission is to create a sustainable future for historic buildings that are treasured by, and relevant to, the communities they serve. Some of SHBT’s portfolio of restored buildings include Riddle’s Court in Edinburgh, Liberton Bank House in Edinburgh, Strathleven House in Dunbartonshire and Law’s Close in Kirkcaldy. 

51n0fdhSome of the stained glass windows of the Tron Kirk, installed in the Victorian era The Tron Kirk is one of the iconic buildings of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. Built in 1637-1641 and designed by John Mylne, the Royal Master Mason, it stands tall with a mix of Palladian and Gothic elements. The interior has mostly been stripped out but the original hammerbeam-style roof survives. Further work in the 17th century saw the steeple grow in height, though it was wooden and burnt down in 1824. Later in the 19th century renovations were carried out to the interior of the Tron Kirk which involved the creation of a new gallery and a new pulpit in 1888. These renovations likely coincided with the installation of the Victorian stain-glass windows which are still present.

In 1952 the congregation moved out of the Tron Kirk and the building was sold to the City of Edinburgh Council. It lay unused for several decades before being restored in the 1970s, which was when foundations of earlier buildings were found underneath the main floor. This is the surface of Marlin’s Wynd, which is believed to be the oldest surviving paved street in Scotland.

In 2003 the Tron was placed on the Buildings at Risk Register and has since cycled through various uses, most recently being leased by Edinburgh World Heritage Trust. It has now been taken on by Scottish Historic Buildings Trust.

Scottish Design Exchange (SDX) brings Scotland’s talented artists and designers to the city centre of Edinburgh through their premises on George Street, creating a vibrant forum in which to showcase their work. They have provided a different experience for visitors to the city while paying out over £4 million to artists since 2015. 

For further information visit www.scottishdesignexchange.com