Concert hall receives funding boost

A project to renovate Scotland’s oldest purpose-built concert hall has taken a step forward with an Edinburgh World Heritage grant.

The £100,000 award will help the University restore and renovate St Cecilia’s Hall - an A-listed venue and musical instrument museum, situated in Niddry Street, off the Cowgate.

This is part of an initiative to create a new centre of excellence for the study, display and enjoyment of historical musical instruments.

Historic hall

St Cecilia’s Hall was built in the 1780s and was designed by architect Robert Mylne.

The building has had many uses in the past including a Baptist church, Freemasons Hall and a school. In later years it was transformed into the Excelsior Ballroom, a popular dance hall in the 1940s and 50s.

Today the hall is owned by the University, housing its world-class collection of historical musical instruments.

Edinburgh World Heritage

Edinburgh World Heritage is a charity with the role of conserving, enhancing and promoting the city’s World Heritage Site.

St Cecilia’s Hall is one of the city’s gems and really deserves this chance to shine. Its conservation, revitalisation and the opportunity to re-present the extraordinary instrument collections will help change our perception of Niddry Street as the back of the South Bridge, and will encourage residents and visitors to further explore the city. We are thrilled to be supporting this initiative for an important and living part of this city’s musical heritage, and are excited by how it links with other initiatives to lift the Royal Mile and Old Town, such as the recent works to the Scotsman Steps and the work of the Canongate Holyrood Initiative.

Adam WilkinsonDirector of Edinburgh World Heritage

Exterior improvements

Improvements will also be carried out to the oval concert room, including tiered seating and staging platforms.

The grant will help fund conservation of the historic stonework, enhancing the historic features of the building.

It will particularly focus on the original Georgian Niddry Street exterior, which was once the main entrance to the building.

The work will also include stonework repairs, repointing in lime mortar, and replacing slating and leadwork on the roof.

This is a hugely significant grant for the St Cecilia’s Hall Project, and we are immensely grateful to Edinburgh World Heritage. Conserving this 18th century building is integral to the success of the whole Project, and it is great to have such a generous gift from EWH towards these works. We’ve also benefitted hugely from the advice and expertise offered by this supportive local trust.

Jacky MacBeathHead of Museums at the University of Edinburgh

The Heritage Lottery Fund also awarded the project £823,500 last year, as part of the £6.5million vision to transform the hall.

Work on the exterior will start next month and is due to be completed in September 2016.