Solutions sought

Holmes returns as council investigates traffic flow

Jacqui McKechnie of the Sherlock Homes Society wearing disctinctive 221B earrings (pic: Terry Murden)

Sherlock Holmes has returned to the Edinburgh birthplace of his creator as the city council aims to solve a few mysteries for motorists and others using a new road layout.

The life-size bronze sculpture of the fictional detective was removed in 2018 to allow for tramworks and a reconfiguration of Picardy Place where Arthur Conan Doyle was born at number 11.

The return of the Holmes bronze, sculpted by Gerald Ogilvie Laing, follows its restoration by Black Isle Bronze in Nairn. It has been placed near to the long-demolished house as the centrepiece of a new island which will be populated with ‘rain gardens’, trees and shrubs to be planted in the October planting season.

However, motorists have been dismayed by the new layout, including an inability to turn left into nearby London Road, forcing drivers to circle the newly-created island. Pedestrians and cyclists have complained about a confusing series of crossings and traffic signals. Far from becoming a refuge, some say it will become a no-go area.

City council transport convener Scott Arthur, who was among a party welcoming the return of the renovated Holmes statue, said a review will be undertaken in November to assess how the new layout is operating and whether any changes are required. There is already a proposal to fully pedestrianise the redesigned Elm Row.

Conan-Doyle descendant Tania Henzell designed the Holmes tartan (pic: Terry Murden)

Conan Doyle’s step-great granddaughter and designer of the Sherlock Holmes tartan, Tania Henzell, joined Councillor Arthur and Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts on the island ahead of its opening to the public next week once resurfacing of the statue’s plinth and earthworks are completed.

Councillor Arthur said: “Sherlock’s return has been the finishing touch for Picardy Place island. For so long this area has been disused and unloved, so it’s wonderful to see it brought back to life.

“Not only will it link walking and cycling routes to and from the city centre, but will provide a spot to relax, meet up and enjoy some of the fascinating cultural artefacts on display.”

However, the island has been the subject of heated debate on social media with some questioning why anyone would want to “relax” on an island surrounded by noisy traffic and likely to be more of a crossing point for cyclists. “Let’s all relax surrounded by fumes!” said one critic on Twitter.

The reconstruction of Picardy Place has been delivered as part of the Growth Accelerator Model Agreement for the St James Quarter development.

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