When Topshop removed beloved landmark the Forsyth’s Spire from the city skyline for urgent repairs, many expected it to be back within weeks.
But 18 months on there is still no sign the three-tonne sphere is about to be returned to its traditional spot on the A-listed building.
Topshop, owned by Sir Philip Green, 61, who is worth £1.2 billion, has simply said it is looking to “restore and reinstate the spire at a future date”. But such fashionable dawdling has failed to impress council bosses – prompting them to write to the fashion giant’s owners Arcadia Group demanding its hasty return. David McLean, of the Lost Edinburgh, website, which features photographs of the Capital going back decades, described the globe’s disappearance as “embarrassing”. He said: “I’ve received numerous e-mails from folk wondering where it is. Next March it will have been two years since it was removed – yet it was originally promised to be put back in place within a few weeks.
“Arcadia Group’s lack of willingness to reinstate the sphere shows a complete shirking of responsibility and an obvious lack of respect regarding Edinburgh’s architectural heritage.”
Topshop removed the Forsyth’s Spire in March last year for emergency repairs when engineers discovered it was in danger of collapsing. It was originally estimated the repair work would be completed in six weeks and the bill picked up by Arcadia Group.
But there are claims the firm – which recently asked supermodel Kate Moss, 40, left, to design a new clothing range – is refusing to stump up the cash. City centre Councillor Alasdair Rankin said: “This is an iconic part of the Princes Street skyline. Arcadia is a successful business and I’m sure they could well afford the necessary works. It certainly seems that they are dragging their feet.
“We need to encourage businesses on Princes Street to keep their buildings in good order and it’s quite unbelievable that little or nothing has happened here. At the very least, Arcadia should be engaging with the public and interested parties to move things forward.”
It is understood Arcadia “baulked” at the “substantial costs” of refurbishing the sphere and last year approached Edinburgh World Heritage to fund the work.
The Forsyth Building, originally a department store run by RW Forsyth, was built in 1906 as Scotland’s first steel-framed structure, and the spire soon became a landmark.
Planning chief Councillor Ian Perry said: “I have written to Arcadia to urge them to replace the globe as I appreciate that its loss continues to be a subject of significant public interest, particularly from amenity groups and the local community council.”
The Forsyth’s Spire – a steel sphere flanked by cherubs – was found to have fallen into considerable disrepair during work to transform the top three floors into a Travelodge hotel.
An inspection of the structure showed crude repairs had been made some years ago, with chains installed to secure the statue. Along with work to reverse corrosion to the metal, it was intended the legs of the spire would be replated, before 23-carat gold leaf was applied.
The spire was completed by Gilbert Bayes, known for creating The Queen of Time at Selfridges in London.